Radel Advanced Technology is a Bengaluru-based design and manufacturing firm with a track record...
Radel Advanced Technology is a Bengaluru-based design and manufacturing firm with a track record in the aerospace and defence electronics sectors. Among the few domestic players certified by CEMILAC (Centre for Military Airworthiness Certification—a DRDO laboratory) as a design organisation, Radel offers system design, CAD/CAM services, design and development of airborne and ground support equipment and associated services. It has worked on systems installation and integration of various aircraft and helicopters such as ALH Dhruv, LCA, Su-30 and Jaguar. According to G Raj Narayan, founder & MD, working closely with the Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA) and the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA) has helped Radel gain in-depth knowledge of the certification procedures and documentation for civil and military requirements. Excerpts from an interview with FE’s Huma Siddiqui:
What kind of opportunities are there for SMEs in the defence sector?
There are plenty of opportunities for SMEs in this sector, including that of integrating into the supply chain of a large integrator of the fighting platforms or their systems. MSMEs with core competencies in various branches of engineering such as mechanical, electrical, electronics, mechatronics, hydraulics, pneumatics, structural engineering, etc, stand a good chance here. Those with stronger domain expertise in any core areas of engineering can design as well as manufacture parts, sub-assemblies and products as part of a Design & Development Cluster of Defence Manufacturers. Over time, MSMEs can export defence related products and equipment and participate in the huge global market; they can actively participate in the MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) of both imported and indigenously manufactured equipment. MSMEs can manufacture electrical wire harnesses, design of accessories such as ground handling equipment, specialised test equipment, test fixtures, etc.
How easy or difficult it is for an MSME to get into this field, and what are the prerequisites?
What is required is an organisational culture that assures high levels of quality through a rigorous implementation of documented processes; capability to absorb new technologies and processes associated with the A&D (aerospace & defence) sector; and to withstand long gestation periods with little or no returns.
You are probably one of the growing companies in the defence and avionics space. Can you elaborate on your offerings?
Radel is an MSME group known for its innovative capabilities over the last 35 years. In keeping with this tradition, Radel has provided completely indigenous solutions in the avionics domain, to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the defence services over the last eight years. Radel Advanced Technology (P) Ltd. has been approved by CEMILAC as a ‘design organisation’ in the areas of “avionics equipment, wiring harness and installation on aircraft”. Its products and services portfolio includes airborne units of military aircraft and helicopters, custom-designed ground test jigs for airborne items, electrical wire harnesses of defence grade, repair of avionics modules, multi-layer printed circuit boards, and engineering services for installation of equipment on aircraft.
Radel indigenously developed and qualified the fully solid state Distributor, which fires the rockets carried by the Jaguar fighter of the Indian Air Force. Two similar equipment, one for the Jaguar and another for the Dornier aircraft, are in the final stages of Qualification testing. Besides these, we have designed, manufactured and supplied a number of ground test jigs to HAL for testing various airborne equipment (gyros, radio compass, fuel flowmeter, intercom, etc.) of the Dhruv helicopters, which have been operating at the bases of the IAF and the Army. We have also been working on projects of the Indian Navy on obsolescence mitigation issues of some of their equipment.
How much weightage do you give to R&D to hold on to your technology edge? What are your R&D plans for the future?
Design and R&D have been the core strength of Radel right from its inception. With its directors having strong, hands-on experience in aerospace and electronics design over the last 40 years, Radel has been able to develop highly cost-effective and reliable products for the aerospace industry. It has invested heavily in infrastructure in terms of extensive laboratory test equipment, CAD software (CATIA, CADSTAR, etc.) as well as trained engineering manpower, to create a team that has tackled challenges of designing microcontroller and DSP circuits to high voltage (18 kv) power supplies. Our company has executed about 20 indigenisation projects so far with no failures.
Do you think more opportunities will open now with PM’s ‘Make in India’ programme?
Certainly. There have already been clear signals from the new government for its preference of indigenously designed and manufactured products, (including medium transport aircraft) instead of foreign procurement. This will have a ripple effect on indigenous development of accessories, support equipment, and other services, thus creating a quantum jump in opportunities for MSMEs. However, how this translates into real business depends to a large extent on how well the MSMEs get integrated into the A&D ecosystem.