The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by sustainability, ease of storage, convenience, light weight, and protection from light, and growing importance of technologies such as internet of things (IoT), blockchain, augmented reality, and circular economy. In the last three years alone, there have been over 427,000 patents filed and granted in the packaging industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in packaging: intelligent sorting systems. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 77,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the packaging industry, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Intelligent sorting systems is a key innovation area in robotics

Intelligent sorting systems are automated systems that use advanced technologies such as robotics and machine learning to sort and classify various materials or products. These systems can sort based on a variety of characteristics such as size, shape, weight, and color. They improve sorting accuracy, efficiency, and reduce human error and operating costs.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30 companies, spanning technology vendors, established packaging companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of intelligent sorting systems.

Key players in intelligent sorting systems – a disruptive innovation in the packaging industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to intelligent sorting systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Walmart 102 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 58 Unlock Company Profile
ZenRobotics, 41 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS 10 Unlock Company Profile
Gree Electric Appliances 10 Unlock Company Profile
Fanuc 10 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment 6 Unlock Company Profile
Changzhou Aishangxue Education Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
Material Handling Systems 4 Unlock Company Profile
Fujian South Highway Machinery 4 Unlock Company Profile
World Precision Manufacturing (Dongguan) 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nanjing Ruiyi Electronic Technology 3 Unlock Company Profile
Siasun Robot & Automation 2 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Lxd Robotics 1 Unlock Company Profile
Zhang Mei 1 Unlock Company Profile
Nantong shennan circuits 1 Unlock Company Profile
Wuhan Cobot Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
GuangDong Zhengye Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
China FAW Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Lens Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile 1 Unlock Company Profile
Aviation Industry Corp of China 1 Unlock Company Profile
Xiamen Topstar Lighting 1 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 1 Unlock Company Profile
Yantai Dongfang Wisdom Electric 1 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 1 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid 1 Unlock Company Profile
CHS 1 Unlock Company Profile
Lingyi iTech Guangdong 1 Unlock Company Profile
TianJinDetong Electric 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Walmart is one of the leading patent filers in intelligent sorting systems. Some other key patent filers in the packaging industry include SoftBank Group, ZenRobotics, Gree Electric Appliances, Fanuc, and ENEOS. SoftBank recently partnered with Berkshire Grey, which offers picking, packing, and sortation systems for warehouses. With this deal, both companies aim to improve operational efficiency with the integration of AI robotics-based technologies.

In terms of application diversity, Walmart leads the pack, while SoftBank Group and World Precision Manufacturing (Dongguan) stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, SoftBank Group held the top position, followed by Walmart and ENEOS.

Intelligent sorting systems will gain traction, thanks to significant advancement in technologies and increasing need for efficient and sustainable solutions. Their ability to improve efficiency, accuracy, and sustainability positions them ahead in an evolving market landscape.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the packaging industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Packaging.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.