Mrs Anandi Ramalingam, Director Marketing, BEL

Editorial Team
Friday, July 21, 2017

BEL is foremost amongst our Defence PSUs – a reputation based on high quality and range of its products. Could you elaborate on BEL’s existing product range and its main focus areas for future production?

The Defence segment continues to be BEL’s main business and provides about 85% of its revenues. Beginning with Radio Communication products, BEL has grown into a multi-product company with strong presence in the field of Radars & Fire Control systems, Missile systems, Communication & C4I systems, Electronic Warfare & Avionics, Anti-submarine Warfare systems, Electro Optics, Tank Electronics & Gun Upgrades, Civilian products and Strategic components.

BEL is working in many new strategic areas such as AESA based modern Multi-mode Radars for Airborne applications, Next Generation Electronic Warfare suites for fighter aircraft, Integrated EW systems for various terrains / ships, AESA based Air Defence Control Radar, Tactical Communication Systems, Battlefield Management Systems, Night Vision Devices,

Multi-sensor Stabilisation Systems, Antisubmarine Warfare, Electronic suites for Gun upgrade and a new Gun programme with Target Acquisition and Fire Control capabilities.

As a diversification strategy, BEL is continuously exploring opportunities in Defence and allied non-defence areas for enhanced growth, leveraging its strengths and capabilities acquired in the Defence electronics domain. Some of the new areas of focus in the Defence segment include Cyber Security, Electronic Ammunition Fuzes, Navigational Complex Systems, Inertial Navigation Systems, etc. BEL intends to use its knowledge and experience acquired in Defence by offering spin-off technology products for civilian applications. The main areas of focus identified for the civil sector include Homeland Security, Smart City elements, Solar Power, Modern Communication Systems for Police and Paramilitary Networks.

What opportunities has the ‘Make in India’ initiative provided to our PSUs which are the initials ‘temples’ of modern India providing for indigenisation and self-reliance?  Likewise, does the ‘Strategic Partnership’ model being included in the DPP-2016 provide opportunity for BEL for technological collaboration with global leaders?

BEL has been giving thrust to indigenous manufacturing and has been striving to achieve its cherished goal of self reliance by strongly supporting and implementing the Govt’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. 

BEL has 9 manufacturing units across India with 20 SBUs, each specialised in a particular business segment of the company’s product portfolio. R&D has been the main focus area of BEL for increasing indigenisation and value addition of its products and systems. BEL has been substantially investing around 9% of its turnover on R&D annually and is planning to increase it progressively in the coming years. More than 85% of the turnover of BEL has accrued from indigenous products and systems.

Several initiatives have been taken by the company towards indigenisation, which include in-house R&D and indigenisation, increased outsourcing to Indian private industries, public private partnerships, joint ventures, capacity expansion and modernisation. BEL has recently established a Product Development & Innovation Centre for developing common subsystems and futuristic products with Chief Technology Officers for major technology segments. BEL has also launched collaborative R&D with Indian industries / academia to further augment its R&D and product design efforts. 

BEL is planning to spend around Rs.2,500 crores in the next 3-5 years as part of capacity expansion and modernisation. Some of the major such expansions include Defence Systems Integration Complex at Palasamudram, EO manufacturing facility at Nimmaluru, EW test range at Ibrahimpatnam, etc. The ‘Make in India’ initiative and the new procurement category of Buy-IDDM will encourage Indian companies including BEL to carryout indigenous design and development of products with enhanced focus.

The Government has come out with a Strategic Partnership Model to identify and develop large private sectors as Lead System Integrators at platform levels similar to DPSUs. BEL looks at the Strategic Partnership Model as an opportunity to work with the emerging platform manufacturers by offering its various electronics solutions required for the platforms.

In sectors such as aerospace, where technologies are fast developing, collaborative ventures, such as BEL has with Thales, would seem the most viable model to develop upon existing capabilities and infrastructure. Are there any more of such collaborations that BEL is considering for the future? 

The Joint Venture Company with Thales, BEL-THALES Systems Limited, is presently operational and is engaged in design, development, marketing, supply and support of civilian and select Defence Radars for Indian and global markets. The JVC has entered into a Strategic Collaboration Agreement with Thales to jointly develop multi target tracking and fire control radar for both gun and missile systems.

BEL has entered into many strategic alliances for addressing the emerging opportunities in Defence Electronics with Defence laboratories, Ordnance Factory Board and reputed Indian and global OEMs. BEL in association with DRDO labs is developing the next generation AESA based modern Radars, Quick Reaction Surface Air Missile System, Electronic Warfare suites for fighter aircraft and helicopters, Integrated EW systems for various terrains of Indian Army, Software Defined Radios for Armed forces, TI sights for Tanks and Weapons, etc.

BEL, in collaboration with Indian industry and selected foreign Defence OEMs, is participating in High Technology Complex ‘MAKE’ programmes of the Indian Army. The company is in the process of forming a Special Purpose Company with a reputed Indian Private Sector organisation to address the requirements of the Battlefield Management System programme.

Some of the other programmes that are being pursued in partnership with Indian / foreign partners include Air Defence Radars, Sonar Systems, Inertial Navigation Systems, Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Electronic Ammunition Fuses, Satcom Terminals, etc.  GE BE Pvt Limited (GEBEL) is another Joint venture, between BEL and General Electric Medical Systems, which manufactures CT Max and other state-of-the-art X-Ray Tubes.

BEL has long been known as a vital supporter of MSMEs who it has hand-held and nourished to mutual advantage.  How much do you trust the capabilities of our MSMEs and support their encouragement? What opportunities do you visualise for MSMEs for associating with the BEL in future?

The Indian MSME sector has emerged as a highly vibrant and dynamic sector of the Indian economy acting complementary to the large industries as ancillary units. The sector has the potential to spread industrial growth across the country and can be a major partner in the process of inclusive growth. The

‘Make-in-India’ campaign adds a new dimension to the indigenisation programmes in Indian Defence sector and increases the relevance of MSMEs manifold.

In line with the Government policies and to complement the strengths of the private sector to build a strong industrial base, BEL has taken several initiatives to handhold and encourage the MSMEs in India. Major initiatives include formulation of a long-term Outsourcing and Vendor Development Policy, opening up of its test facilities for use by the private entities, procurement level of more than 20 % from MSMEs, nomination of nodal officers across its Units to promote “Make in India”, addition of several new indigenous vendors in its approved vendor base, implementation of online vendor registration and e-procurement processes and preference to IDDM in the procurement policy of the company.

BEL has initiated collaborative R&D with niche technology companies which include several MSMEs. BEL has developed successfully several technology modules / sub-systems with the help of MSMEs. About 120 projects have already been identified for collaborative R&D and 193 partners including 85 MSMEs are empanelled.

With an order book of over Rs. 40,000 crores as on 1st April 2017 and also good order inflow projections, BEL is expecting to outsource sizeable business to the Indian private sector, including MSMEs.

A major plank of our defence policy is to become a ‘net exporter’ of defence products. What are BEL’s ambitions for exports of its products and technologies towards meeting the nation’s aspirations?

The present Government is encouraging Defence exports through many policy initiatives. The Government aims to achieve US$ 2 Billion exports by 2019. Realising the need for exploring options to ensure sustenance and growth of the company under the changing competitive Defence business environment, BEL has identified Exports & Offsets as one of its thrust areas.

BEL achieved an export sale of US$ 65.5 Million in the year 2016-17. The export order book as on 1st April 2017 is about US$ 85 Million. Currently, BEL is pursuing opportunities worth about US$ 1.0 Billion for the next 4-5 years. The major products exported recently include Coastal Surveillance System, Stabilised EO payload for Helicopters, VHF Radio Bharti, Advanced Composite Communication System, Naval Surveillance Radar, Ship Borne EW System, Electro Optic Fire Control System, etc.

BEL is pursuing avenues to export products and systems to friendly countries with the approval of MoD. Currently, the Coastal Surveillance Systems, Akash Missile Systems, Naval Air Surveillance Radars, Sonars, Night Vision Devices, Electronic Voting Machines, etc, are being promoted to South East Asian, Middle East and African countries. BEL is also focusing on opportunities in the areas of Offset obligations of foreign vendors in various RFPs of the Ministry of Defence. The focus is on ‘Build to Print’, ‘Build to Spec’ and ‘Buyer Nominated Equipment’.

A word from the Director Marketing about BEL’s superb performance in the previous financial year and vision for the future.

BEL has achieved a turnover of INR 8,825 Crs during 2016-17 against Rs.7,541 Crs in 2015-16, registering a significant growth of 17%, with an export sale of US$ 65.5 Million. With an order book of over Rs. 40,000 Crs as on 1st April 2017 and good order inflow projections, BEL is targeting a healthy growth of 12-15% during 2017-18.

BEL is continuously exploring opportunities in Defence and allied non-defence areas for enhanced growth, leveraging its strengths and capabilities acquired in the Defence electronics domain. BEL will continue to pursue various strategic initiatives, which include diversification / new business development initiatives, thrust on exports and offsets, strategic partnerships / joint ventures and increase the customer base to sustain & enhance the growth of the company.

Segments like Radar and Missile systems, Communication and Network Centric Systems, Tank Electronics, Gun upgrades, Electro Optic systems and Electronic Warfare & Avionics systems will continue to drive the Company’s growth in the coming years. In the civil segment BEL is pursuing business in the field of Solar Energy, Homeland Security, Smart City elements, Smart Cards, Cyber Security and Telecom.

BEL looks forward to work closely with our esteemed customers to address their requirements. BEL will strive to retain its leadership position in defence electronics segment and be a total solution provider, by closely working with the customer right from conceptualization of the solution to commissioning and life cycle support.

At present, the Indian Defence market is undergoing several fundamental changes with the Government setting a firm platform for the private sector to play a major role in the Indian Defence industry. BEL is poised to face increased challenges due to competition from private sector.

The total Defence electronics market up for grabs for the next 10-12 years is to the tune of over Rs. 6 Lakh crores. BEL is aiming to capture a substantial portion of the market and aiming to grow at a rate of 12-15% in the next 5-7 years. The company plans to achieve a turnover of about Rs. 30,000 crores by 2030.