The most recent figures show that the number of industrial automation patent applications in the industry stood at 157 in the three months ending October – down from 256 over the same period last year.

Figures for patent grants related to industrial automation followed a similar pattern to filings – shrinking from 219 in the three months ending October last year to 194 this year.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, which 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.

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.

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Raytheon Technologies Corp was the top industrial automation innovator in the naval equipment and technologies sector in the last quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed 264 industrial automation-related patents in the three months ending October. That was down from 297 over the same period last year.

It was followed by France-based Safran SA with 63 industrial automation patent applications, the US-based Boeing Co (39 applications), and the Netherlands based Airbus SE (30 applications).

Northrop Grumman Corp has recently ramped up R&D in industrial automation. It saw growth of 16.7% 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 naval equipment and technologies sector.