Front Technologies

Using engineering excellence to transform wind turbine inspections

Published 9 January 2024 Last updated 9 January 2024

Front Technologies is developing an inspection tool tailored for on-site wind turbine blade inspections. The new robotic maintenance system differs from current techniques used to inspect wind turbines and it will deliver improved efficiency, reliability, safety, and applicability across both onshore and offshore wind farms.


About Front Technologies

Founded in 2020, Front Technologies is a research and development company that specialises in inspection solutions for the offshore wind sector.

With an experienced team that offers engineering solutions for the wind energy sector, Front Technologies, which is based in Loughton, is currently developing an advanced inspection tool tailored to on-site wind turbine blade inspections. Initial results established that the inspection technology can identify potential subsurface defects that cannot be detected by conventional visual inspection techniques, including drone-based inspections.

The technology

Front Technologies is dedicated to inspecting, testing, and measuring the structural integrity of engineering components and structures, as well as biomedical engineering of medical devices.

In addition to developing its wind turbine inspection solution, Front Technologies is also planning a new robotic deployment system. This promises to be a significant shift from existing approaches that can achieve efficiency, reliability and fail-safe at the same time, both for onshore and offshore wind. It is based on an innovative combination of drone and rope control techniques, with new patent applications filed recently to protect the IPs. By integrating relevant inspection and repair tools, it is expected to form a complete robotic maintenance system to help wind farm owners or operators maintain optimal performance of wind turbines, reduce down-time, and minimise health & safety risks associated with wind turbine blade maintenance.

The company’s technology involves shearography and thermography techniques to pinpoint defects in materials used in wind turbines. Shearography is used to detect imperfections by analysing how materials respond to applied stress or pressure, making it especially effective at identifying structural or surface issues in turbine components. Thermography is where infrared cameras are used to capture variations in temperature on the turbine’s surfaces, helping identify issues within the materials. Controlled laser heating is also used to induce thermal stress in the materials and make defects more visible.

This enables ‘lock-in’ and other active techniques to be implemented, which is where specific signals or measurements are applied so the way the material responds to them can be analysed. This enhances the accuracy of defect detection.

Support received from Launch Academy East of England

Front Technologies has participated in various sessions including marketing, finance and IP protection provided by Launch Academy East of England and has gained a wealth of invaluable insight and knowledge relevant to the offshore wind energy sector.

Front Technologies is now focused on securing the necessary funding to transform its new robotic deployment system into a working prototype and commercialising its products and services.


Jianxin Gao, Director and Founder of Front Technologies, said: “Our ambition is to develop a novel robotic maintenance system for the wind sector both on and offshore. We have received tailored business support through the Launch Academy East of England programme, which will accelerate our journey and help turn our dreams into a reality.

“We are confident that the support provided by ORE Catapult will enhance our prospects to secure funding from both public and private investors. This will enable us to turn our concept into an operational robotic deployment system prototype and further develop it for commercialisation.”

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Imogen Stevenson

Innovation Manager - East of England

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