As a part of digital transformation of manufacturing, company to use robotics in Hyderabad facility. There will be a lot of interest globally in Indian defence procurement, with the government speeding up reforms

Hyderabad: TATA Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Ltd, a joint venture between TATA Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Lockheed Martin, is seeing growth opportunities through its operations in Hyderabad, at a time when Central government is bringing defence reforms in terms of defence procurement, pushing indigenous manufacturing and increasing foreign direct investment (FDI).

Sharing the near-term outlook, Abhay Paranjape, chief operating officer, TATA Lockheed Martin Aerostructures, told Telangana Today, “We are already engaged in additional manufacturing for fighters and helicopters in Hyderabad. This will accelerate more by the end of 2020. Once the new defence procurement procedure (DPP) is finalised, there will be more clarity on investment opportunities.”

“As a company, we are going to see disruptive innovations in our operations through Industry 4.0. We are going to use robotics in our Hyderabad facility for things that were done manually, earlier. This will provide leverage in competing worldwide with companies that require the precision,” he added.

The company is also developing F-16 wings at its F-16 wings unit. It expects a capacity to make 3-4 wings a month in the steady state.

Advantage Telangana

Talking about the ecosystem in the State, Paranjape said, Telangana has an advantage as it has a right mix of private industry in Adibatla cluster and in the GMR Aerospace Park, as well as the presence of public sector units and research labs headed by the DRDO and Midhani.

There is a significant layer of MSMEs in the State, which will be benefited from the recent packages announced by the Finance Ministry, in terms of loans, equity and investments.

Also, Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH) is looking to help MSMEs in the aerospace and defence sector with new capabilities so that they can get loans and equity and enter into new markets.

“Possibilities for Telangana are vast and the challenges can be turned into opportunities. The State is rightly poised to reap opportunities both in the manufacturing and research and development,” he noted.

Defence Reforms

Paranjape observes that the recent DPP aims at time-bound procurement. Delays in procurement have been plaguing the Indian defence procurement system for years and that has been one of the major hurdles for industry to go and participate in the procurement process. With the time-bound procurement process, there will be a lot of interest in the industry, globally, to try and see how they can participate in the defence procurement.

The second major change that is coming through is the preference for the indigenous. Since 2012, the government has progressively added the ‘Make in India’ concept but now it is really going to take off, with the Finance Minister announcing specific packages for defence sector and how certain platforms and products that will be procured only from India, he said at a recent CII webinar.

There will also be another trend, ‘buy global but make in India’, which will make global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to look at setting up their manufacturing base in India. These developments will open up new doors for the indigenous industry in the country.

Additionally, the government’s focus on indigenous has also resulted in increase in foreign direct investment (FDI), taking the ceiling in automatic route from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, and up to 100 per cent in some cases. This allows funding to come from outside and also gives an incentive to the OEMs worldwide to come and manufacture or develop something in India because they can protect their intellectual property.

If they hold a significant share in their business, they can make sure that the processes and systems are followed according to their international standards. As a result, MSMEs will also be benefited with the presence of these OEMs.

Technology Adoption

From the technology point of view, he said, “New materials are coming in for all sorts of platforms and products. Composites are getting more and more prevalent in structures. Smart structures are coming through that give stealth to aircraft. The man-machine interface is going through radical changes. Unmanned aircraft systems are being increasingly used. India is poised to take advantage of all these developments.”

Smart network systems are also offering new ways of operations, both in terms of on-ground as well as the systems in air. Machine learning, artificial intelligence and networking are going to make a significant impact. Industry 4.0 will bring a new change in defence manufacturing, Paranjape noted.