LONDON: Aerodyne Group, Malaysia’s leading drone specialist, has acquired a 60 per cent controlling stake in AtSite, a Danish forerunner in wind turbine blade inspections for the wind turbine generation industry throughout Europe.
Signing the share purchase agreement with Mads Obling Rasmussen, AtSite’s chief executive officer, Kamarul A Muhamed, CEO and founder of Aerodyne Group, said the acquisition will help it secure a stronger footing in the rapidly growing wind energy market.
“With this acquisition, it enables us to unlock the global wind turbine market. This is actually how we expand globally. In some countries we set up our own operations. But in most countries, we work with with local partners and that is the strategy that allows us to grow this fast. So it has been a very exciting journey,” said Kamarul.
Aerodyne Group started with just three people about three years ago and is now the international drone based managed solutions provider with offices in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and Denmark.
AtSite is a forerunner in wind turbine blade inspections for the wind turbine generation industry throughout Europe. Over the last year AtSite technicians have completed more than 1,000 blade inspections on both offshore and onshore wind turbines.
Aerodyne’s services are especially useful for monitoring and inspection of onshore and offshore wind turbines. It is cost effective and provides savings to wind energy operators.
Now called Aerodyne AtSite, the company brings expertise from Malaysia, and hires people in Europe to run the operation.
“The technology is from Malaysia, the solution is on the clouds, managed by our team. So we use local drone pilots. Our people are there right now training the Europeans,” said Kamarul of his team in the Billund office in Denmark.
“I think we found a niche in using drones to provide enterprise solutions and I think it is the right formula. It has enabled us to experience tremendous growth in the past three years. Now we have about 200 people in ten countries,” said Kamarul, who was happy to announce that Arodyne was rated the seventh largest drone service provider in the world.
“We received this news on Wednesday and this is a huge vote of confidence in us, this little known Malaysian company – and we have come this far,” he added.
Kamarul was speaking at an Aerodyne Day held at the Malaysian High Commission on Friday, organised jointly by Matrade and MIDA. The share purchase agreement was witnessed by Datuk Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi, the Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK & Northern Ireland.
Kamarul said Aerodyne’s main focus right now is infrastructure assets.
“To us, infrastructure assets is the biggest market in terms of drone applications. The good thing is that it can be replicated quite easily to various markets and not just limited to Malaysia,” he said.
Kamarul said besides infrastructure assets, another market ripe for optimisation using drone technology is agriculture.
“Agriculture is huge in America. Using drone in precision agriculture, you can treat your farming as if it is a digital factory. You do away with uncertainties, you do your planning with knowledge, assets and with that you can be very, very efficient,” he said, adding that Aeorydne has set its eyes on several partners in at least five countries.
Kamarul added that most of his manpower were recruited from universities all over Malaysia.
“We are collaborating with some of the universities in our R&D work, such as University Technology Malaysia and University Kebangsaan Malaysia, especially with the engineering faculties and on the development of Artificial Intelligence. To us the academia and industry collaboration is the way to go.”
Twenty two year old Thaqif Kamarul, who studied Aerospace at Sunway University, had benefitted from what initially started as an internship at Aerodyne. He is now director and Certified UAS Pilot based in Billund.
“We do wind turbine inspections and we are involved in the development of the software on the drones to get it run completely autonomous one day. For now, people still have to fly the drones to do the job, but I can see in about two years the whole process will be completely automated. We work with a team of developers in KL as well as some engineering firms in the UK to figure out the best solutions to get this to run as smoothly as possible,” said Thaqif at the event.