Research and innovation in industrial automation in the automotive manufacturing and supply sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of industrial automation patent applications in the industry stood at 609 in the three months ending October – down from 1,193 over the same period last year.

Figures for patent grants related to industrial automation followed a different pattern to filings – growing from 1,020 in the three months ending October last year to 1,078 this year.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

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Industrial automation is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

Toyota Motor Corp was the top industrial automation innovator in the automotive manufacturing and supply sector in the last quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in Japan, filed 141 industrial automation related patents in the three months ending October. That was down from 279 over the same period last year.

It was followed by the United States based Ford Motor Co with 47 industrial automation patent applications, France based Valeo SA (47 applications), and Germany based Continental AG (45 applications).

Tata Motors Ltd has recently ramped up R&D in industrial automation. It saw growth of 41.7% in related patent applications in the three months ending October compared to the same period last year - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the automotive manufacturing and supply sector.