Cover Story

Sky is the Limit


An in-depth analysis on the opportunities for Indian CNC machining sector in aerospace industry

More than a decade or so, several areas of the economy have been considered to be sunrise sectors. Today, aerospace manufacturing is one such sector which demands such attention. Indian aviation market is estimated to become the world’s third largest by 2025 with more demand for new commercial aircrafts. Indian Government, by introducing the much awaited strategic partnership model, has allowed domestic aerospace firms to enter into tie-ups with foreign companies and open doors to explore joint ventures with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). A strong collaboration between public and private sectors is expected to bridge the gap between India and the west in aerospace manufacturing.

CNC machines will be in demand
V. Anbu, Director General & CEO, IMTMA, informs, “Companies in aerospace industry rely on CNC milling and CNC turning machines to deliver tight tolerance parts. Manufacturers need both horizontal and vertical CNC machining centres with 4-axis capabilities and multi-function turning centres to meet aerospace quality standards. CNC machines will be in demand for machining structural parts, engine components, landing gear or systems control from titanium, aluminium, etc.”

He adds, “India’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for aerospace sector was set at Belgaum in Karnataka. Branded as ‘Aequs’, SEZ provides an ecosystem for OEMs, their suppliers and ancillaries with a thrust on precision manufacturing. Telangana recently set up a SEZ in Adilabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad for aerospace products. Tata Advance Systems Ltd will set up a manufacturing facility there. With sustained government support for developing critical mass, skills and R&D, we could see Indian aerospace industry achieving its full potential.”

Growing in good phase
Sunil Mujumdar, Director, Okuma India, says, “Indian machine tool industry is growing in good phase and has been taking big challenges on various applications and one of them is machining centres.”

Since then, Indian manufacturers have started to do the aerospace components. Initially, they started with the imported machining centres specialised in aerospace to gain the confidence. To make components in reasonable rates and to cut the competition, Indian manufacturers started looking for domestic solutions of the machining centres. India is the hub of technology which are completely into the engineering designs for multi complex fixtures and jigs. By making the combination of good quality fixtures, the path ahead for the jig and Indian machines is now wide open to expand with the growth of civil aviation in country.

Mujumdar states, “I will not be surprised to see Indian machines being used by other countries to make good quality aerospace components in the coming years.”

Huge opportunities for manufacturing of aero components
Mihir Baxi, President – Global Sales, Jyoti CNC Automation Ltd, says, “India’s civil and defence aerospace market growth is projected to exceed US $ 23 billion in next 5 years. India is rapidly building its capabilities to emerge as the preferred destination to support the global aerospace and defence supply network also.”

India is among the top ten civil aviation markets in the world and is projected to be among the top five largest by 2020. Rapid increase in domestic passenger traffic during the recent years has put tremendous pressure on the existing aviation infrastructure in the country and as of now, almost all Indian airlines are focussed on increasing their capacities. There are huge opportunities for manufacturing aero components; Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities for civil and military aviation sectors. But unlike automobile industry, aviation-based manufacturing has lagged woefully behind. By providing standardised platform, CNC machining answers to the demand of aircraft component manufacturing and its assembly technologies.

He adds, “With capacity to build 5-axis multitasking CNC machines, Jyoti-Huron is one of the leading players to take up the opportunity to cater to the need of aerospace industries. India, being global manufacturing hub, can provide most economical and feasible ground for aerospace component manufacturing through advanced CNC machining. CNC machine market will see a steep growth with the growth in domestic aerospace and defence industry.”

Aerospace industry at its par to global counterpart
Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd, says, “If today, the world has been becoming one global village; a majority of the credit goes to the rise of aerospace industry. This industry is the sum of the most advanced industrial technologies available to the world.”

However, its process involves huge complexity with regard to both production and the supply chain. Though every industry has its own set of shortcomings, but in case of aerospace, certain limitations tend to intensify severely. It is the interdependencies over other ancillary industries. The aerospace industry is the best illustration of the dense interweaving of business, economic, political and military networks and interdependencies than the aerospace industry. Patel observes, “Indian aerospace industry has been coping up with many elements such as raw material shortages, changing legal norms, protectionist barriers, geopolitical and ecological threats, planning uncertainties and financial instability. Though many of these barriers are getting eliminated year-on-year, we are yet to see the broad daylight. When those turbulent elements will be eradicated substantially, Indian aerospace industry will be at par to its global counterpart.”

In the upcoming decades, India undoubtedly has the potential to become one of the key players at the international stage. And fundamental global economic and political decisions hinge on how far India has progressed and how quickly this highly complex country can become a global powerhouse.

Aerospace industry expects multi-fold growth in near-time
The rapid growth observed in aerospace industry as there is a big push for development in civil aviation and defence aerospace. According to a joint report by India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), the market for India’s aerospace and defence sector is projected to reach US$ 70 billion from its present size of just US$ 1.7 billion over the next 10-12 years. Sanjib Chakraborty, Managing Director, Hurco India Pvt Ltd, states, “Aerospace component manufacturing companies will be the major contributor in growth mission. The industry will grow multi-fold in coming years. Most of the aerospace manufacturing companies in India are over booked. The need of latest technology in CNC machining is on high demand considering stiff global competition. There will not be any look back for CNC machining sector in coming years.”

Solutions for aerospace industry
Various solutions for aerospace segment
Aerospace manufacturing is regarded as a high-tech industry with complete emphasis on exotic material machining, very tight tolerances, light weight components and complex geometry makes it very critical in nature. Baxi from Jyoti CNC Automation, explains, “Jyoti and Huron Graffenstaden SAS, France (100 per cent owned subsidiary of Jyoti CNC Automation Ltd) has developed various 3- axis, 5-axis and multitasking solutions to offer to the aerospace and defence industry to meet the need of accuracy, speed, size, precision and complexity. K Mill Series, EX Series, KX Large Series, KX Five Series, U Mill Series, MX Series and MTX 300 are the solution to offer to the aerospace part manufacturing industry.”

Laser cutting and welding solutions
Patel from Sahajanand, says, “With the legacy of decades, we have been actively contributing to aerospace industry for many years. That includes outstanding experience working with ISRO for Chandrayan mission. Given that much to the industry has certainly enhanced our gauge towards what current advancement is going on, what is in demand for different kinds of technologies.”
Talking about one such necessity which has been generating a lot of demand is traceability and the company has introduced numerous solutions considering this requirement. That includes Laser marking systems for sustainable traceability. Besides, aerospace industry utilises various kinds of special metals and alloys. He adds, “We have engineered laser cutting and welding solutions to process on titanium, nickel and special purpose alloy. These solutions are designed to comply with aerospace industry standards.”

3-axis, 4- axis and 5-axis machine
Hurco is having strong foot hold in global aerospace sector. Aerospace machining sector needs unique machining features to handle material with lower machinability, accuracies with close tolerance, challenging cycle time, fastest set-up change over time etc. Hurco has series of 3-axis, 4- axis and 5-axis machine specially designed for aerospace sector. The MAX-5 controller with patented software like Ultimotion, 10000 block look ahead feature, high processing speed help customers to be competitive globally. Most of its customers using 5-axis machines are from aerospace sector.

Chakraborty from Hurco, informs, “We are one of few machine tool companies in world having all types of 5-axis machine (trunnion, swivel head, rotary torque table, column moving, cantilever etc) which help us to offer total solution to our aerospace customers. The patented conversational programming software is proved as fastest programming system for 2D programme used for structural component in aerospace sector. Hurco technology caters in India (Pune, Chennai, and Coimbatore) are doing regular test cut for aerospace customers to develop globally competitive machining process.”

AeroDef Group: Serving the needs of aerospace production units
IMTMA has formed a group of manufacturers as part of its AeroDef Group who are capable of serving the needs of aerospace production units be they in government or private sector. Metalworking machine tools and manufacturing technologies required by aerospace sector are specialised, larger in size and require a very different approach in the entire process of design-to-delivery. This includes a unique set of knowledge, skills, precision and technology-intensive focus. Indian Machine Tool Industry has some players with some encouragement and support that satisfy these specialised requirements. Anbu says, “IMTMA is working to familiarise them to the advance and hi-technology developments at leading global aerospace institutions as well as sensitise key parameters on aerospace manufacturing. The AeroDef Group also works to explore possible business alliances with machine manufacturers so as to jointly exploit market opportunities in Indian aerospace industries and plan to develop an ecosystem which would enable the Indian Machine Tool Industry value chain to meet expectations of the aerospace sector as a whole.”

CNC machines will be in demand for machining structural parts, engine components, landing gear or systems control from titanium, aluminium, etc.
V. Anbu, Director General & CEO, IMTMA

I will not be surprised to see Indian machines power other countries making good quality aerospace components in coming years.
Sunil Mujumdar, Director, Okuma India

CNC machine market will see a steep growth with the growth in domestic aerospace and defence industry.
Mihir Baxi, President – Global Sales, Jyoti CNC Automation Ltd

Indian aerospace industry has been coping up with many elements such as raw material shortages, changing legal norms, protectionist barriers.
Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd

Aerospace component manufacturing companies will be the major contributor in growth mission.
Sanjib Chakraborty, Managing Director, Hurco India Pvt Ltd

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