In an effort to develop new technologies and products for both defence and civilian applications, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), the Bengaluru-based defence electronics company, has drawn up a three-year research and development (R&D) plan. The company aims to spend an average 10% of its annual turnover on R&D activities, a top company official said.
“The inputs to prepare three year R&D plans comes from three different sources such as marketing needs, technology gap analysis and strategic requirements. We are into so many segments and need to prioritise based on market needs,” Ajit Kalaghatagi, BEL’s director, R&D told FE.
He said the company would spend 10% of its annual turnover on R&D over the next three years. For example, it spent R704 crore on R&D in FY16, which is 9.3% of the turnover. “Last year, we spent 9% of our turnover on R&D and this will go up to 10% at least going forward,” Kalaghatagi said.
Currently, BEL is working on 450 projects which are live at various R&D divisions and Central Research Laboratories at Bengaluru and Ghaziabad. The company plans to complete 250 projects this year and it will add more in the next three years, he said.
He said the company has secured seven patents out of 31 applications filed in the recent years. During the last fiscal, it filed 12 new applications. It has employed 2,400 engineers in its R&D units, which is half of its total engineering workforce.
S K Sharma, chairman and managing director, BEL said the company generates 86% of its turnover from indigenous technology and it aims to increase it further with several new products getting developed at its in-house R&D unit. The company will address missile electronics business through its R&D unit. It has formed a Control Electronics R&D group for this purpose, he said.
He said the company will set up a new manufacturing plant at Ananthpur in Andhra Pradesh to manufacture wide range of missiles for defence applications. The new Defence Systems Integration Complex will be spread over 900 acres and see an investment of R450 crore over the next three years.
BEL is also venturing into new business areas like solar energy. The company is setting up solar power generating stations to produce 150 MW power in collaboration with other defence PSUs. It would invest R600 crore on this business, which will have power stations at various places. The company will supply power to other PSUs apart from using for its own internal consumption.
Sharma said the company’s civilian products unit has developed a micro ATM for banking applications, which is ready for commercial use. It will be introduced very soon, he added.