Innovation Exchange challenge: Avoiding Injury due to Manual Handling during Bolt Installation

G+ are seeking solutions to improve health and safety in heavy lifting and manual handling for bolt fixing activities in offshore wind.

Opportunity Details


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Opportunity to present solution to industry; possible further activities such as product trials; support from Innovate UK Business Connect; potential business collaborations and investor introductions.

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The Innovation Exchange is supporting G+, the global health and safety organisation for the offshore wind industry, to find solutions for the industry’s lifting and manual handling challenge. G+ and its members wish to engage innovators to find a solutions to mitigate potential health and safety incidents due to heavy lifting and manual handling challenges associated with bolt fixing activities in offshore wind.

The costs associated with offshore wind farm installation are high, with jack up vessel chart rates costing up to £250k per day. Any delays during installation can cause large budget overruns. Equally, any efficiencies gained in the installation process can create large savings for an offshore wind farm developer.

Who can apply

Entrants to this competition must be established businesses, academic institutions, start-ups, SMEs, or individual entrepreneurs, who are UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base.

The challenge

Installation technicians manually lift and mount M48 and M72 bolts (weighing up to 15kg, and up to 450mm long) during offshore wind turbine assembly and it is a major cause of manual handling incidents. The installation often requires all parts to be carried from the point of access in the turbine through challenging pathways to the point of use. Pathways can include short ladders to pass over rotating objects. Tensioning or torquing is completed using a heavy powered device, which is also a potential cause of manual handling incidents.

The main joints that require offshore bolt procedures during installation are the blade to rotor hub fixing and tower to tower or tower to foundation joints. Each joint could have ~150 bolts that require fitting. The size of the bolts can make them difficult to hold and rotate, which is required prior to starting the tooling for tightening.

The Challenge holder is looking for solutions to make the task easier or to reduce the risk of technicians having manual handling incidents while carrying or installing components.

Whilst not limiting the technologies from solution providers (although the solution must not include the use of Davit cranes), it is expected that applicants would consider innovations from some of the following areas:

  • Lifting and manual handling
  • Self-lifting and heavy-lifting technology
  • Robotics and mechatronics
  • Bio-enhancements or exoskeletal suits
  • Naval architecture
  • Aerospace engineering and manufacturing
  • Heavy engineering and manufacturing
  • Smart autonomous systems
  • High accuracy positioning systems
  • Large air carriers
  • Existing offshore wind farm O&M industry (new ideas)
  • Collaborations between service and technology providers

A manual handling solution for bolt fitting should:

  • Be capable of supporting a technician to lift or remove the need for a technician to lift:
    – Equipment with a mass of up to 25Kg.
    – Bolts up to 450mm in length and 13-15kg in mass (M72 bolt)
    – Bolts or bolt equipment above, below or to the side of the technician (fitting of blade to hub would require the circumference of the joint to be perpendicular to the technician, rather than a tower-to-tower flange which would be lateral).

To meet the desired timescale and risks, it is preferred that the proposed solution, or the key part(s) of the solution, has been commercially proven in other sectors. As a guideline, solutions should be TRL 5+ or deployable for field tests within one years of competition closure.

For further details of functional and technical requirements, visit the Innovation Exchange website.


Selected solution provider(s) may have the opportunity to present their solution to industry at the G+ Global Offshore Wind Health and Safety Organisation Board meeting in September 2024. It is also possible that further activities may be undertaken by members of the G+, such as product trials. The solution has potential to be deployed across offshore wind farm sites in development, globally. Selected providers will also receive support from Innovate UK Business Connect.

Related programme

Innovation Exchange

Innovation Exchange

Innovate UK Innovation Exchange is a cross-sector programme supporting innovation transfer by matching industry challenges to innovative companies from other sectors. It does this by putting large businesses with technical needs in contact with companies who have the right innovative solutions, for faster development of novel solutions.


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