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Dr. Krishnamurthy, Mahindra Systech, "Growth in India-based Space-Launch and Satellite Development Programmes will Greatly Boost Composite Consumption"

Mahindra Systech, started in 2004 as an automotive component supplier, consists of 3 core divisions: Mahindra Engineering Services (MES), Sourcing Unit and the Manufacturing Unit. MES has been providing design and delivery services to the global automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing industry. The aerospace manufacturing division has been involved in tool design/development and prototyping/manufacturing of jigs & fixtures, metal, composite components and assemblies. The Aerospace Division is an AS9100 Rev. B certified design organization embodying decades of experience in global aerospace design and development programs.

In 2006, M&M also acquired an aerospace engineering firm Plexion Technologies. Mahindra Defence Systems has traditionally been providing solutions for the light combat / armored vehicles for defence forces. Chief Technology Officer, Mahindra Aerospace, Dr.  Karthik Krishnamurthy shares his companies experience with Lucintel. Excerpts:

1. What are the key drivers for composite consumption in Aerospace industry?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: The global trend in aero-structures for both civil and defense applications is very well-established in favour of high-technology composites.

2. Key challenges faced by composite end-users in India?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: Restricted availability of aerospace-grade raw materials is a challenge for local manufactures that is not easily overcome. Developing the capability to cost-effectively manufacture this material domestically is an immense challenge. Small domestic consumption volumes make it unattractive for global material manufacturers to pay much attention to this market.

3. Tell us about the impact of government policies on aerospace industry?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: The offset policy encourages global aerospace OEMs to procure high-technology components from India, and defense aero-structures are largely composite-based. Labour cost arbitrage encourages manufacture of any labour-intensive parts and assemblies in India.

4. Do you see high-potential for composites in the Indian market? If yes, what are some of reasons for the same?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: Potential growth in India-based space-launch and satellite development (under the ISRO umbrella) as a commercial service to other nations is also a driver for domestic production of high-technology products using composites.

5. Steps required in making India an export hub for Aerospace components?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: For us to be an export hub we need to be globally competitive on quality, cost and consistency. Bilateral equivalencies between our Government with regulatory agencies such as EASA and FAA are vital to relieve the individual industries from chasing regulatory certification on their own resources.

6. Steps required to be taken by aerospace industry to be able to compete with more developed industries in the west?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: The global aero manufacturing industry is characterized by certifications (customer-specific + industry-specific + regulatory), and Indian private industry has not been widely exposed to the expectations of the global aerospace OEMs.

Our industry has to ramp up to meet global quality and certification expectations, managing rejection rates and costs of manufacture to stay ahead of other nations. This propagates back to the availability of world-class training to produce world-class skill sets at all stages of the manufacturing chain.

7. Government support and policies change that is required to encourage exports of composite components?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: With all major aerospace OEMs being located in the West, we have a geographic disadvantage compared to other low-cost countries (such as Brazil and Mexico), which increases pressure on cost-competition. Government policies that boost our global cost-competitiveness are critically important.

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