Industry Report

Machine tools to aid defence manufacturing

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An in-depth report on how machine tools manufacturer can aid defence manufacturing in India.

India has the third largest armed forces in the world. Nearly 60 per cent of defence related requirements are met by imports which offer a huge opportunity for Indian manufacturer as import substitution. This translates a great business opportunity for the sector through ‘Make in India’ improving the country’s self-reliance in defence production. Reduction in import will create need for advanced manufacturing systems including mother machineries. The defence procurement policy or DPP aiming priority to indigenously made defence products and boosts the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Machine tools are considered a strategic industry segment and backbone of entire manufacturing sector impacting on high-end manufacturing including defence, with the latest technology and sophistication. Indian machine tool sector has proved to be capable of world-class manufacturing and excellence with cost-effective technological solution. Here we present an in-depth analysis on how machine tools manufacturer can aid defence manufacturing in India.

Contribution seeks to bridge technology gap
Hemant Kumar, Sr. Vice President, Jyoti CNC Automation Ltd, says, “Indian machine tool manufacturers can offer best possible application and post-sales support which would be distinct advantage. Challenging demand of defence production system will bring out hidden strength of Indian design, innovation and manufacturing excellency to standout globally. Immense contribution of Indian machine tool manufacturers for defence manufacturing will bridge the technological gap and soar new height of success and growth.”

Gain a competitive edge
Jyoti has stated delivering in government defence sector since 2008 through tender business opportunities. They have wide spread successful instalment among major government arm factories and research laboratories across the country. He adds, “Defence sector opportunities have given us the competitive edge and extended boundaries in self-development. Some of the projects with leading educational institutes are aiming developing and building competitive edge manufacturing technology which would dedicatedly focus on defence manufacturing system.”

Implementing ISMS can help defence production confidentiality
Nitin Wakode, Associate Vice President PSG, Onward Technologies Ltd, says, “Make in India campaign launched recently had helped Indian companies to work as a partner of exporter in better way. Earlier these companies were used to do something for name sake just to show offsets.” He feels it is for sure private players can deliver the quality, timely delivery and cost completive equipment’s. Definitely govt. can monitor such R&D as well as manufacturing facilities for security reasons.

He adds, “But now if companies can work on Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) in ISO 2700 environment surely similar norms can help defence production confidentiality. But Govt. needs to come up with good incentive structure for private participation in manufacturing.”

Machine tool industry is backbone for any metal parts manufacturing. In recent past most of the DRDO labs, BEL labs, ISRO labs, HAL etc are getting well equipped with CNC machines for their part productions. Multi- axis machines i.e. Shaublin, DMG, Mazak, Makino, are being purchased along with highly advanced CAM software like Mastercam, NX, Hypermill etc. These shops are able to produce quality products with shortest cycle time. Machine tool industry has helped them almost modernise their capabilities and capacity is increased multifold.

Industry 4.0 can bring a big change
He explains, “We are recently witnessing involvement of private industries in defence manufacturing to some extent.” He believes Industry 4.0 can bring a big change in this. Once the Industry 4.0 is implemented every equipment will be sharing the real-time data and every minute detail can be captured from a manufacturing shop. This will build the required confidence in Government and bigger companies.

Wakode informs, “Another aspect of defence manufacturing is out of the box thinking on innovative products. Today entire world is working on UAV, many other defence systems for powerful attacks or surgical attacks etc; which is need of the hour considering the proxy wars or act of terrorism etc. If all IIT’s and similar premium institutions are given projects to develop altogether new systems which work with intelligent systems and logics can help the forces in a great way. Once the prototypes are approved it can be manufactured in small and medium scale industries as well. If an institute like COEP can develop an indigenous satellite and launched same successfully with the help of ISRO such initiatives can be of great value to boost domestic production and R&D.”

DPP – A game changer
Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd, informs, “Recently launched Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) is seen as a game changer to ensure faster pace in procurement, especially through newly introduced categories under indigenously designed, developed and manufactured (IDDM) provisions. Following the central government’s footsteps and recognising the huge potential from the defence sector, several states are also offering incentives and concessions in the form of aerospace clusters or Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for developing an ecosystem where all core and ancillary activities related to defence manufacturing can co-exist.”

With the Defence Ministry’s intention of procuring about US$10 billion worth of defence products per year in the next 5 to 10 years, and the government undertaking several initiatives and reforms, there is a sea of opportunity available for all stakeholders in the sector. For instance OEMs as well as SMEs in the defence manufacturing sector are focussing on moving from a buyer-seller to a co-developer and co-manufacturer relationship. They have not only come together and formed strategic partnerships to support the development of a sustainable supplier base for the defence sector, but have also moulded themselves quickly to foster a culture of innovation and R&D. So far, they have demonstrated a huge amount of potential and capability to deliver on this assurance.
Defence and aerospace
Sahajanand’s laser machines are specially designed to make the defence as well as aerospace equipment. He opines, “As the government of India has incorporated indigenisation, we are looking forward to making the best use of it. Essentially our laser solutions execute manufacturing processes like cutting, marking, micromachining, hardening, cladding the metals utilised in defence tools and machinery. Besides, with our consistent R&D efforts, we have been facilitating prototyping services. We have collaboration with multiple government agencies for providing defence grade manufacturing.”

The next era of global growth
Keshav Khurana, Executive Director, Wohlhaupter India Pvt Ltd, says, “Machine tool manufacturers have appreciated the Make in India initiative by the government. It has resulted in more investments by the manufacturers in bringing international level tool engineering for aiding the demanding defence sector. Our defence sector in India is now growing at a rapid pace and we want to have the best defence infrastructure.”

He observes, “The Indian government is taking all steps to ensure highest quality defence artillery. Digital tools, high temperature working tools, special coatings suited to the defence materials etc are all in use for the defence industry.” He adds, “We are in touch with the defence manufacturers to understand their precision requirements and working together for the best solution. Efforts are made continuously by the tool manufacturers to take care of the special requirements of the defence industry.”

Defence sector: An important focus
Wohlhaupter have an international history of developing tools for the defence manufacturing. Supplies in USA and Germany for the defence industry for the past almost 90 years has given the company the rich experience and believes in innovating and bringing industry first and advanced tools. Indian defence sector is now using Wohlhaupter’s precision tools since more than 40 years now. The company is working together with them at various locations to supply the latest technology. Khurana states, “Our legendary boring and facing head is in use in these companies for more than 40 years and we are serving them with latest tools like digital boring heads, deep drills, big diameter drills. Defence sector is an important focus for us.”

Investing in R&D, innovation makes a competitive difference
V. Anbu, Director General & CEO, IMTMA, says, “Indigenous production of defence equipment would open up many opportunities for various manufacturing solution providers in the country. Indian machine tool manufacturers have been supplying technology and solutions to defence production for a long period of time albeit in a small way.”

Since the government has opened investment opportunities with 100 per cent FDI in defence equipment manufacturing through collaboration and joint ventures, many off-shore defence equipment manufacturers are setting up their base in India in collaboration with Indian industries.

He believes this is going to give a push for Indian machine tool industries to revisit their capabilities by adding new products and solutions to match the demand that is going to get created in the next decade. It will also give a boost not only for existing products but also for new and futuristic products. He informs, “The obvious challenge for industries is to invest more towards R&D, innovation and develop more sophisticated and high precision technology to match global standards so that it meets the future requirements of Indian defence
industry.”

About machine tool sector
Lastly Anbu, comments, “Machine tool industry has been developing new indigenous technology and supplying machines to Ordnance Factories, BEML, DRDO, and few other private companies that are in the fray of developing defence equipment. Many Indian companies have also developed multi-axis machines and SPMs which are already being supplied to defence organisations such as HAL, Ordnance Factories, etc.”

Hemant Kumar, Sr. Vice President, Jyoti CNC Automation Ltd

Nitin Wakode, Associate Vice President PSG, Onward Technologies Ltd

Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd

Keshav Khurana, Executive Director, Wohlhaupter India Pvt Ltd

V. Anbu, Director General & CEO, IMTMA

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