By Kamal Shah
Indian Aerospace & Defence’s Editorial Director Kamal spoke to Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Dynamics Limited, Commodore Siddharth Mishra (r) ahead of Aero India 2023 on the company’s major product offerings and highlights during the airshow.
Q. What is unique about BDL’s participation at the Aero India 2023?
Ans: BDL will be showcasing the largest-ever display of its products during Aero India – 2023 in comparison to the previous editions of Aero India. The Company will be displaying a few of its products for the first time. BDL is also planning to launch three new products during the Bandhan ceremony being held as a part of Aero India – 2023. In addition to this, BDL will be signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with various companies during the event.
Q. BDL, while fulfilling its basic role as a guided weapon system manufacturer, has built up a strong in-house R&D Division primarily focussing on Design and Engineering activities. What are the recent advancements made by the Company towards its in-house R&D activities?
Ans: BDL’s in-house R&D division is working on emerging technologies to develop futuristic weapons for the armed forces. BDL is striving to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) based products. The in-house R&D Division has recently developed the AI-enabled Counter Measure Dispensing System, which was launched last year. The Division has also developed drone-delivered missiles and bombs for the armed forces. BDL intends to increase its R&D activities to develop innovative products for its customers.
The Company strongly believes that the development of new products will enable it to diversify its offerings and mitigate product dependencies on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The Company has established the missile development group with the objective to design and develop missiles. Thrust is also being given to efforts towards the Innovation of in-house developed products. Synergy is being maintained between the industry and academia to sustain a balance between the experience and knowledge industry.
Q. How is BDL performing on the exports front?
Ans: The Government of India (GoI) has created a plethora of opportunities for exports in the defence sector. BDL is giving a lot of thrusts to export to utilise these opportunities. BDL is in regular interaction with overseas customers to expand its footprint in the international market. The Company is also entering into MoUs andTransfer of Technology (ToT) agreements with various companies to enhance the future prospects of the Company on the export front. BDL is modernising its facilities to enhance production capacity to cater to export demands.
Q. BDL is gearing itself to contribute immensely towards the realisation of ‘Atmanirbharta’ of the Indian Armed Forces. What facilities have been added during recent times in this direction?
Ans: Towards the realisation of Atmanirbharta in Defence manufacturing BDL has recently set up a state-of-the-art Warhead facility RF Seeker facility and the Central Storage facility in the Company premises.
The warhead facility, which has been set up at the Bhanur Unit of the Company, will be used both for its current as well as futuristic missiles manufactured by BDL.
The R F Seeker Facility Centre has been set up at Kanchanbagh Unit for the production and testing of RF seekers. Seeker is a critical and technology-intensive subsystem which will be used in all future Missiles for target tracking. BDL is manufacturing KU Band seekers, which is the first of its kind by BDL. The indigenous manufacturing of the seeker, which is around half the cost of the missile, is a major demonstration of Atmanirbharta and the contribution of BDL in creating a complete indigenous vendor ecosystem in India. Setting up this facility has made BDL join the elite club of select few companies across the globe to have the capability to produce the seekers.
The Central Storage facility established at BDL, Visakhapatnam is equipped with a modern storage system consisting of a vertical Carousel System, Mechanical Compactor and Motorised Compactor which can cater to the entire storage needs of the Unit. The facility has state-of-the-art features for real-time transactions of the items and Inventory monitoring.
Q. What efforts are being put towards the automation of manufacturing facilities?
Ans: BDL has constantly been upgrading its manufacturing technologies and processes to state-of-the-art including industry 4.0, Robotics operated workshops, latest Surface Mounted Devices assembly lines and maintains the highest quality standards in its products by adopting to best QA practices like AS 9100 D, Zero defect, etc. The pursuit results into a reduction in production cost, benchmarking of productivity norms and modernisation of management system and less dependence on imported technology. BDL intends to automate its production systems where feasible to increase productivity.
Q. How is the progress being made on the Indigenisation of weapon systems manufactured by BDL?
Ans: BDL has been focusing on indigenising technology for self-reliance from the day any contract is signed. In the case of Invar and Konkurs – M missiles, though technology transfer was limited, BDL took the initiative and achieved an indigenous content of 80 to 95%, respectively.
However, BDL’s major products, on average, are indigenised by more than 90%. BDL is also putting all-out efforts for further indigenisation of left over percentages in a phased manner.
Q. How is BDL fulfilling the MSME mandate issued by the Government of India?
Ans: BDL has progressively developed Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Vendors over a period and has been able to improve MSME participation quite significantly.
In order to improve procurement from MSME owned by Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (SC-ST) and women enterprises, BDL conducts a special drive for registration of the same with the active participation of organisations like the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry etc. BDL has also populated a list of items to be indigenised on the BDL portal and the Government’s Sirjan Portal. The results are encouraging. BDL goes all out to meet the stipulated targets through various initiatives and awareness programmes for MSMEs.
BDL is also offering various items for the indigenisation of various missiles to the industry, including MSMEs. The Company also offers its technical support to its vendors, including providing test facilities available with BDL.