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Optimizing blade O&M: allying technology with blade expertise

Blade O&M has become a focus for BladeInsight, formerly Prodrone. André Croft de Moura, CEO and founder, spoke enthusiastically to PES, about his vison for the future of drone inspections, with added value. This blade centric company has already embraced the idea of predictive maintenance and is continuing to provide quality, agility and a focus on the customer.

PES: Hi André, it’s great to have you back with us at PES Wind. Last time we spoke, you were ProDrone and today you join us as BladeInsight. For the benefit of new readers, could you walk us through the background of your company and how you came to be BladeInsight?

André Moura: Firstly thanks for having us back. It’s great to be here under our new brand BladeInsight. I founded this company as ProDrone in 2015, based on the conviction that in order to make wind energy universal, it had to become more competitive than other carbon-intensive energy sources.

Wind turbine blades really caught my eye early on, as one of the most critical elements in wind energy infrastructure. As a key component, blades are exposed to the elements and susceptible to all types of damages, making their maintenance critical to a turbine’s mechanical and economic efficiency.

As ProDrone, we grew this idea into an autonomous drone flight inspection solution which came to market in mid 2017. Since then, we have inspected more than 11,000 blades in 16 countries through a network of licensed partners who today are able to deliver our solution in 5 continents.

With this solution we delivered best in class image resolution: on average resolution of 0.4mm/pixel, meaning you can easily identify hairline cracks on blades, and very accurate and robust data with a repeatable flight path providing consistency. Our solution provided clients with actionable insights into the state of their blades including measurement and tracking of damage over time, pushing towards data-driven decision-making in the industry. Clients who adopted this model of optimisation have reported more control and visibility over their O&M budget.

Over time though, through the close industry relationships we had developed, we wanted to expand our reach and realized that to reflect our new ambitions we needed a new name.

As BladeInsight, we commit to deliver a tailored solution to optimize blade O&M, covering the inspection and maintenance value chain over the full lifecycle of the blade. It also reflects how we integrate blade expertise into our solutions, a clear differentiating factor. Our tools are designed with experts and specifically for blades.

PES: So, the name change to the BladeInsight seems to mark a move away from being just a drone solution. Would you say it is a change in gear for your company?

AM: More than moving away from any particular solution, we are moving closer to our customers.

As ProDrone, we became a global player in autonomous drone inspections as an agile, technically robust and ambitious start-up. We provided a globally competitive solution that has delivered high quality data across the wind industry value chain, from OEMs, to wind farm owners/operators, to other third parties. As BladeInsight, we are building on this, while remaining rooted in our same values of quality, agility and a focus on the customer.

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