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Radel Readying To Tie-Up with Foreign Defense, Aerospace Firms By March 2016

It was literally in disgust that G. Raj Narayan, founder and managing director of Radel Group, quit his job as an avionics engineer in the public sector to become an entrepreneur in electronics. That was way back in 1979. Three-and-a-half decades later, in 2015, Raj Narayan’s company is now a very important supplier of test jigs and aerospace parts to Bengaluru-headquartered Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that he had left after 10 years of work to pursue his passion.

Today, his Radel Group makes key parts and sub-systems for Indian armed forces’ Russian-origin Su-30 and MiG-29 combat planes, AN-32 cargo planes and the indigenous Dhruv advanced light helicopters. After 36 years as an electronics company and 10 years after venturing into aerospace and defense sectors, Radel is now preparing to tie-up with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by the end of this financial year in March 2016 to take its business to the global market.

“Radel is not associated at the moment with any foreign OEMs, but is keenly looking for a partnership with a few. It is hopeful of closing a couple of deals during the current financial year,” Raj Narayan told Arming India in a recent interview. He, however, refused to name the foreign companies that Radel Group is talking to for a tie-up.

Radel group consists of two independent companies. Radel Electronics is the older organization and has been in the consumer electronics products that are designed, manufactured and sold by it. Radel Advanced Technology, established in 2005, focuses on the micro, small and medium enterprises opportunities in the aerospace and defense sectors. Radel Advanced Technology is approved by India’s military certification agency, CEMILAC, as a design organization and has executed over 20 projects for HAL, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy, completely designed and manufactured in-house. These include airborne as well as ground test equipment.

“A strong background in aerospace and avionics is what led to an entrepreneurial stride that combined my professional capabilities as a classical musician and an avionics engineer. The return to the Aerospace and Defense sector was made possible in 2005 when the government opened up these sectors to private sector participation.

“Since electronics lies at the core of almost every system on any military platform, and almost all of them are currently procured from abroad, there is more prospect in this area than a few creative and innovative MSMEs can actually handle. The business potential runs beyond a few thousand crores, though this needs to be tackled in a holistic and planned manner by the government and the armed services. This is where a Vision Group is crucial to creating a long-term plan of action that can ensure a win-win situation for all stakeholders,” Raj Narayan said.

Targeting 60% Growth over the Next 3 Years

Radel Advanced Technology is now aiming to ramp up its operations into the global Aerospace and Defense sector, targeting an annual growth rate of over 60 per cent for the next three years.

“The aerospace and defense industry is characterized by long gestation periods. Radel has successfully crossed this crucial milestone and is now on a high growth path. This position is further reinforced with the emphasis being placed on ‘Make in India’ and ‘Defense Indigenization’ directives of the Indian government. With a strong and proven in-house design capability, the organization is very confident of meeting the growth targets as long as the government remains focused on encouraging indigenous talent and capabilities.

“Opportunities exist in all three armed services as well as Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), but the latter need to look at Indian MSMEs as high value addition partners rather than just ‘sub-contractors’ of low value added services,” he said.

According to Raj Narayan, the Indian aerospace industry is predicted to be poised for a quantum growth over the next 10 years. “In the civil aviation sector alone, a total of around 1,300 aircraft are expected to be inducted, while in the military sector, around 400 aircraft are expected to be inducted. In addition, the current ageing fleet of the Air Force and Navy are expected to be either upgraded or fitted with indigenized equipment. All these activities are bound to result in a rapid growth of the Aerospace and Defense sector.”

Electronics content, Raj Narayan noted, constitute a significant proportion of the cost of any platform or equipment housed within a military platform. Defense electronics, being a much specialized domain with unique and stringent requirements, poses its own challenges while providing huge business opportunities.

“One of the major handicaps is the lack of a component manufacturing base, with the result that Indian equipment manufacturers have to import almost all the components. This, therefore, results in additional costs of Customs duties along with associated handling expenditure and delays. The second handicap results from the fact that the armed services themselves do not have complete technical details and knowledge of the equipment that they wish to indigenize and therefore the procurement process does not lead to a successful result,” he said.

“The solution to the above problems lies in a holistic approach to be adopted by the Defense Procurement Agencies that synergies the strengths of all stakeholders, namely, Armed Services, DPSU (who possess some of the domain expertise), large private players, who have the financial clout to invest in Research and Development, and the MSMEs, who provide the best value for money with their lean organization and innovative minds.”

Economic Reforms Can Help Overcome Sector’s Multiple Challenges

The aerospace and defense sector, he said, faced multiple challenges. “First and foremost, the Indian government needs to facilitate the creation of a healthy ecosystem for the growth of this industry through the provision of incentives as well as improvement of infrastructure. Secondly, skilled technicians and engineers are not available for this specialized sector. While engineering colleges across the country churn out graduates in thousands every year, few possess any practical exposure or experience to make them industry-ready. Hence, both the central and state governments should act as facilitators for establishment of Skill Training schools within public and private industries already operating in the sector.

“Thirdly, labour reforms that constitute a major stumbling block for sustained growth of any manufacturing organization in India, need to be implemented urgently. Fourthly, the productivity and efficiency of the government departments that are involved in import and export of goods and raw material, should be improved far above the pathetic levels existing at present. Free movement of goods from one state to another within the country, through simplified VAT (GST) is also urgently required.”

Raj Narayan felt that the present Defense Procurement Procedures (DPP) failed to recognize and encourage private sector players, especially MSMEs with proven track record and talent. “There is no weightage for quality and competence of a vendor. Therefore, the process mostly fails to enable the armed services to move towards self-reliance that they have been fondly wishing for over six decades. While the DPP has some clarifications on the process of indigenization, many of the procurement agencies are unaware of the same and hence the process is poorly implemented leading to failures and shortages.”

Within the company, the acute shortage of skilled talent in the sector was overcome by a well laid out training program for new as well as existing manpower. The trainees are exposed to the critical and stringent needs of the aerospace and defense sector through live experiences on projects, Raj Narayan, who also is the chief mentor of a training school called Drona, said.

Make-in-India Should Go Beyond Rhetoric

The Radel Group chief noted that the ‘Make in India’ remained at most a “rhetoric” than any concrete progress on the ground. “However, the slogan by itself has energized not only industries, but also DPSUs and the defense procurement agencies. A distinct push for sourcing defense equipment from Indian sources is clearly evident. However, it remains to be seen how far this will result in actual growth in the manufacture of indigenous defense equipment,” he said.

“Make-in-India needs to go far beyond just manufacturing under license from a foreign OEM. Indian companies need to be incentivized and encouraged to design and develop our own products using our own technologies and this capability will then lead to self-reliance through continuous up-gradation of technology that is also developed indigenously.”

Raj Narayan was on the opinion that no foreign company would ever part with any technology or products or processes, especially relating to military and aerospace industry. “The only route to self-reliance is through hard work and indigenous R&D. From this point of view, modification or changes to the Offsets Rules and Guidelines will only have short-term gains, if any, in terms of creating low value, low technology work being outsourced by the foreign companies.”

While this could be significant for MSMEs with no design and development capabilities or domain expertise, MSMEs with proven track record and competence need to be nurtured and supported by the government as well as the armed services, financially as well as morally, he said.

“Even a small part of the R&D funds provided to Defense Research and Development Organization could yield relatively higher returns and long term gains to the stakeholders. Notwithstanding the above, it is heartening to see that many hurdles to the implementation and expansion of the Offsets program have recently been removed. It now remains to be seen how well the foreign companies respond to the amendments and actually execute their Offsets liabilities. This would be a test of their sincerity.”

The original article appeared on ArmingIndia.

 

rajnarayan

Unveiled! A template for self-governing townships

Electronics City Industrial Township Authority has overcome many challenges, but there are still a few left. Historically, industrial estates have been set up in suburbs and areas distant from residential populations and, therefore, have always been governed by either a municipality or a village panchayat.

The specialised needs of industries are not clearly understood by these governance bodies, thereby leading to a disorganised management, and lack of development. The lack of interest and involvement of industries too in managing their own estates has prevented their needs from being adequately addressed.

The governance of an industrial estate needs to be primarily focused on good infrastructure that includes the following: roads, stable electric power, management of water supply and sewage, cleanliness of the estate, including waste management, mass rapid transportation for employees of businesses, good communication facilities, peripheral support facilities like security, hotels and canteens, banks and shops, and security for people and common infrastructure.

All these call for long-term vision and planning as well as good execution of up keeping at minimal cost.

ECity, the forerunner
while the demand for establishment of self-governing Industrial Townships has been voiced for many years, the Electronics City (eCity) was uniquely positioned to be identified as a forerunner for this initiative. The creation of the Electronics City Industrial Township Authority (ELCITA) under the umbrella of the Karnataka Municipality Act by the Karnataka Government in 2013 was a landmark event across the country. What makes it unique is the fact that this prestigious industrial estate is home to a mix of large corporates, as well as MSMEs operating in diverse fields from IT, ITeS, electronics and mechanical hardware manufacturing, bio-technology, as well as educational institutions.

Further, the eCity has the advantage that it is a contiguous area of industries and commercial establishments with no residential properties included within its well defined boundaries.

The Township Authority comprises of ten members, five elected from among the industry representatives, and five officers nominated from the government bureaucracy. A major challenge faced by Industrial Townships would be participation by industry owners as elected representatives, as they have to take time off their busy routines. It is a challenge to attract competent, mature businessmen to devote time for a collective local governance activity. ELCITA has successfully overcome this challenge due to its existence as a close-knit industry body for over two decades. Other challenges that have been successfully overcome by ELCITA are:

Waste management: ELCITA is addressing the issue of a non-existent sewage system by setting up a cluster of sewage treatment plants (STPs). The first one has just been commissioned and the second one is under construction.

Security, law and order: While law and order within the estate is the responsibility of the jurisdictional police, ELCITA has been playing a proactive role through periodic interactions with them. ELCITA has also facilitated the installation of an e-FIR kiosk in the eCity.

Traffic management: With a high density of employees as well as vehicles of all types, traffic is managed by a dedicated team of traffic wardens with support from the Police.
Water management: ELCITA distributes both borewell and BWSSB water to all the organisations in eCity.
EGovernance: ELCITA has already put in place a transparent eGovernance mechanism that enables all transactions, including tax collections, works contracts, payments, etc. to be conducted online. ELCITA has been issuing Khatha certificates to property owners.
But there are a few challenges that still remain.
Lack of space: Since all plots in eCityhave been sold and used up by industries and businesses over time, there is hardly any space for common amenities
Provision of sewage: Drainage, treatment and disposal is expensive — both from capital investment and operating expenses perspective.

Implementation of building laws: Need a team of specialists that a local governance body does not normally possess.

As demonstrated in the eCity, the success of any industrial township stands on four pillars — cohesiveness of its constituents, transparency, unity, and a democratic approach to finding optimal solutions to the infrastructural needs of the estate.

Aerospace Skilling In India

Making in India since 1979, Raj Narayan of Radel Group

Will ‘Make in India’ remain a vision or transform Indian manufacturing? What does the government need to do to enable the manufacturing and hardware industry to turn the PM’s vision of Make in India a reality? We caught up with Raj Narayan, Managing Director of the Radel Group, who has been making in India for 35 years to understand what it takes.

Raj, who grew up in a musically inclined family, was introduced to Indian classical music quite early in his life. He not just learnt but also gave numerous performances. Passion for music led him to create electronics musical instruments after he finished his electronics engineering.

Another passion that Raj was consumed by was aircraft designing. At a very young age he started designing model aircraft. Later, he went to join the designing division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL.

A few years later, he turned both his passion into a successful venture and formed the Radel Group in 1979. The Radel Group is into making indigenous design and manufacturing for aerospace and defense sectors and digital music instruments.

Raj Narayan, in this chat, talks about the importance of Make in India and also emphasizes the role of the government, and how things like labour laws need to change in order to not just encourage Indian manufacturers but also encourage investments from other countries.

Raj is also the Chief Mentor of Drona Centre for Excellence, an initiative that focuses on creating skilled manpower especially for the defense and aerospace sector. Drona was conceived out of Raj’s interest in teaching and realizing that fresh engineering graduates lack practical skills to fit into the industry. Drona has a comprehensive training programme which engineers can go through to not just add to their skills but fit in directly into the industry.

The original article appeared on yourstory.

Aerospace skilling in bangalore

Focus on design, else we may create screwdriver technicians in name of skilling

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today launch the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana to mark the World Youth Skills Day. The government has set a target of skilling 40.2 crore people by 2022, under the new National Policy for Skill Development, which will also be formally launched today.According to Union Skills Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the targeted population, 54 percent is in the agriculture sector.

The vision of the skill development policy is to create an ecosystem of empowerment by skilling on a large scale at speed with high standards and to promote a culture of innovation-based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure sustainable livelihoods for all citizens.

It has four thrust areas,and addresses key obstacles to skilling, including low aspirational value, lack of integration with formal education, lack of focus on outcomes, low quality of training infrastructure and trainers.

What really matters is how the government put this into action.

This should be a concern for all players in this area – the government, the industry, the vocational training institutions, training providers, assessment agencies, certification providers and student financiers.

What should the policy do to make the policy a success? Firstpost spoke to specialists and analysts, who while welcoming the new initiative of the government, suggested a few measures that the policy could look at and help plug loopholes at the ground level: The government is talking about manufacturing in India. Time it focused on design in India, says G Raj Narayan, Chief Mentor of DRONA and Founder & MD of Radel Group, that delivers indigenous solutions in Aerospace, Defence and Electronics.

“Design has a large and longer impact on what we are manufacturing. When you do that, you are adding in a huge way to manufacturing and using Indian talent. Manufacturing under licence get us nowhere. Then it would mean skilling 1,000 employees in screwdriver technology,” he said.

Skilling has to be at a higher level than merely creating technicians. Lack of artistic skill in design and manufacturing is a big gap in India. One of the way to get the youth to be interested in skilling is to introduce hobby courses in school at the high school or mid-level.

“Right now, marks are important for students and parents to get to engineering and medical seats. If skilling hobbies are introduced at the school level, school and college dropouts will be empowered to get a job. Academicians are needed to look at integrating this policy at the school level. All stakeholders should be involved by the government to make the policy a success,” Narayan said.

The original article appeared on FirstPost

Drona Skilling centre

A&D Sector Needs 18,000 Trained Engineers

The original article appeared on Mydigitalfc

With India aiming to be a self-reliant manufacturer and exporter of defence products, the number of required trained engineer in the aerospace and defence (A&D) sector is expected to grow at least four folds.

“Based on a very conservative figure of even three engineers per MSME (taking into account the micro as well as small units), there is an immediate need today for approximately 18,000 trained engineers in this sector. However, it is imperative that the A&D sector grows four-fold to make India not only self-reliant but an exporter of defence products. The projected requirement of trained (not just qualified) engineers would then jump to 72,000 or more over the next few years,” G Raj Narayan, founder managing director of the Bangalore-based Radel Group, told FC.

To meet this large requirement, the Bangalore-based group, whose Arm- Radel Advanced technology is a design and manufacturing company promoted by technocrats with four decades of experience in the aerospace, defence and electronics industry, has now come up with DRONA School of Engineering Practice, the first of its kind finishing school in the country focuses on creating skilled engineers, especially for the electronics, aerospace and defence sectors.

DRONA offers courses ranging from the flagship holistic six-month programme, Campus2Career Apprenticeship, to short three-day orientation programmes of aerospace, defence and electronics sectors.

“We are expecting a four-fold increase in the number of students over the next couple of years. We are also gearing up to team up with leading educational institutions across the country and provide customised training for industries for their new recruits,” said Narayan.

Significantly, a recent industry study suggested that even a 20 to 25 per cent reduction in imports could directly create an additional one lakh or more of highly skilled jobs in India. If the government strives to extend the indigenous content to 70 per cent in the next few years, then this figure can swell even further.

Narayan said that with the emphasis now on ‘make in India’ and with thrust on defence indigenisation, there is need for a quantum jump in the number of competent industries entering this sector. To meet the projected targets, large organisations such as the defence PSUs have no option but to create an efficient supply chain through the participation of MSMEs. MSMEs contribute significantly to employment generation. It is reported that more than 6,000 MSMEs are already integrated into the A&D sector as suppliers mainly to PSUs and this number is growing.

 

Aerospace skilling in bangalore

Why it is difficult to start a new venture in ‘Aerospace & Defence’ sector.

The original article appeared on EntrepreneurIndia.

It is not feasible for a budding entrepreneur to start a new venture in the A&D sector, for several reasons, the most important being the requirement of extensive domain knowledge & considerable work experience.

The term ‘start-up’ is a catch-phrase today. Start-ups are increasingly achieving success in every sector – be it technology, healthcare, eCommerce, services, etc. However, this is one phrase that cannot be applied to any enterprise in the A&D sector, since the long gestation period ensures that by the time the industry sees any returns, it can no more be classified as a ‘start-up’. Lack of funding, lack of trained technical manpower – right from engineers to shop floor workers, unfavourable procurement policy of government and restriction on the export of defence items etc, are some of the key challenges that discourage a new entrepreneur to step into the A&D space.

Here are four reasons highlighting the challenges faced while starting a new venture in  Aerospace and Defence:

1) Starting a new venture in A&D sector requires specialised knowledge – be it in the electronics, mechanical, hydraulic or pneumatic domain. This sector needs products with high precision, ruggedness to withstand extreme conditions, and reliability over a long period. Therefore, the enterprise should have the capability to design and manufacture these specialised products.

2) The stringent testing procedures are expensive and time consuming. The entire cycle, from understanding the RFQ and bidding, to the final testing, acceptance and receipt of payment from the defence organisation is a very long one.  The entrepreneur should be able to withstand the financial burden for a long period of time. Since it is a ‘long-gestation’ industry, finance is not as easy to obtain as in other fast-growing sectors.

3) The A&D sector is a highly demanding and specialised engineering sector. The industry needs to possess a distinct culture that lays emphasis on rigidly controlled processes, quality of output, attention to details, documentation and traceability, etc. Any industry that possesses these qualities and enjoys accepting challenges can find this sector highly rewarding and satisfying.

4) Since the A&D sector is dominantly controlled by the Government agencies, one need to be extremely patient and bear the slow decision making processes, even in cases where there is an urgent requirement.

Thus, it is not feasible for a budding entrepreneur to start a new venture in the A&D sector, as it requires extensive domain knowledge, considerable work experience and the ability to bear the financial burden for a length of time before realising any returns.

Making youth self-sufficient to take up entrepreneurship in A&D sector

In an attempt to empower fresh engineering graduates with the basic skills in design and manufacture, Raj Narayan initiated a training program named DRONA, a school of engineering practice. The program exposes fresh graduates to live projects and focuses on creating skilled engineers, especially for the Electronics and Aerospace & Defence sector. This gives them an insight into the complete design and manufacturing process of specialized defence equipment. Any engineering graduate, who opts for the DRONA training program at Radel, will be mentored by veterans of industry and well-known guest faculty.

DRONA attempts to address all the key issues associated in imparting skills to the engineers. The trainee goes through a complete transformation of the thought process, by which the critical, analytical and innovative skills blossom. At the same time, the graduate is trained in systematic quality analysis and documentation processes.

A major weakness among the engineers lies in communication skills. The Drona program provides training in written and oral communication skills, business etiquette and time management too. Drona offers courses ranging from 3-day orientation to a complete 6-month program.

Over the years, the program has transformed more than 150 such engineers. Radel has launched Drona as an initiative focusing on producing skilled engineers so that they cannot only ‘Make in India’, but ‘Create in India’, ‘Design in India’ and ‘Innovate in India’.

Drona

Shortage of Skilled Engineers Threatens to Ground Make In India flight.

The recent launch of Drona, School of Engineering Practice, included a lively panel discussion on the issue of skilling engineers for ‘Make in India. This was reported in OneIndia. Here is an extract: While launching the Drona School of Engineering Practice, spearheaded by aerospace veteran G Raj Narayan of Radel Group in Bengaluru recently, experts shared some crucial facts.

Some of the facts have been mentioned here:

  • About 1.5 million engineers graduated from more than 3500 engineering colleges across India in 2014.
  • Only 4 to 7 per cent of engineers are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors.
  • Graduates seem to lack higher-order thinking skills, analyzing, evaluating and creating.
  • Huge demand from core engineering industries for practical engineers with hands on experience.
  • Sunrise industries of Aerospace, Defence and Electronics need thousands of skilled engineers for design as well as manufacturing.
  • Very few training schools for engineers in core engineering disciplines, especially electronics and aerospace engineering design.
  • None possesses robust processes, documentation and project management.

Practicing engineers need of the hour

Drona

Speaking to One India on the occasion, Narayan said that Drona is a logical solution to his four-decade-plus experience as an entrepreneur. “What we need today is practicing engineers. We are offering a holistic exposure to engineering.

In the aerospace and defence sector, there are very few schools in India to prepare engineers to get ready for the opportunity of Make in India,” Narayan said. Cleared by the Centre for Military Airworthiness Certification (CEMILAC), Radel has been offering system design, CAD/CAM services, design and development of airborne and ground support equipment, documentation support, development of LRUs, ground test equipment and obsolescence management for aerospace, defense and related OEM industries.

The delivering unit that fires rockets on Jaguar fighter is one of the many projects the company has executed. It has also contributed for programmes like the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Sukhoi (Su-30 MKI). “The Make in India vision of Prime Minister Modi is a welcome move and it will re-write the research, development and manufacturing concepts in the country. But for Make in India’s success, we need skilled and smart engineers.

A holistic exposure to engineering is the key,” says Raj Narayan. Skill the nation and not kill the nation: Vidyashankar M N Vidyashankar, President, India Electronics & Semiconductor Association (IESA), said that India will have to create over 120 million jobs in the near future. “Make in India is the key, but adding engineers into the market without empowering them is dangerous.

If we don’t skill the nation, we are going to kill the nation,” Vidyashankar, a retired IAS officer who had served with the Karnataka government said. Citing a global study, Vidyashankar said that by 2020, if India’s doesn’t take care of the echo system in the electronic segment, then it would overtake the crude oil import.

Unique features of Mission Drona

  • Promises to create skilled engineers in the fields of electronics, aviation, and aerospace and defence sectors.
  • Offers a unique Apprenternship (Apprentice-Intern) programme providing fresh engineers with training in design and manufacturing, with mentoring from veterans from the industry.
  • Trainees are provided with hands-on work experience and exposure to live projects.
  • A six-month project related ‘Campus2Career’ holistic programme includes training in soft skills.
  • Other courses offered are a short 3-week course and 3-day introductory workshops on current technology topics.
Drona

Adani Group Wants to Capitalise on ‘Booming’ Indian Aerospace and Defence Sector; But Do We Have the Skills?

The original article appeared on IBTimes

Indian multinational conglomerate Adani Group is reportedly soon expected to make an entry into the growing Indian Aerospace and Defence sector. The Gujarat-based MNC “is quietly evaluating a foray into defence and aerospace production.”

The report suggested that the Adani group could venture into helicopter manufacturing sector. ET reported that Adani executives led by Karan Adani, the elder son of billionaire group chairman Gautam Adani, have met with representatives of large overseas defence companies to explore tie-ups for manufacturing a range of defence equipment.

The Adani Group is the latest among large Indian MNCs to set foot into the defence and aerospace sector. Under the Modi government, with a view that the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector will note a phenomenal growth, several companies have recently entered the rising market.Recently reports had emerged that the Reliance Group is planning to enter the defence and aerospace sector. Similarly there also have been reports that Tatas, Mahindra & Mahindra and Larsen & Toubro are also expected to beef up their presence in the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector.

Drona

While the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector is expected to grow at a phenomenal rate, industry experts have raised concerns on the acute lack of skilled professionals for the sector. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State for skill development and entrepreneurship, back in February had observed that the Indian aerospace sector would need at least one million skilled workmen in next 10 years.

But the biggest drawback according to Aspiring Minds Report 2014 is that “Only a shocking 4 to 7% of engineers are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors”.

G Raj Narayan, Founder & MD of the Radel Group and Chief Mentor of DRONA – a finishing school for engineers — is of the opinion that engineering students, who wish to enter the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector must be given more practical training.

“Aerospace & Defence sector in India is likely to grow ten folds by 2025 opening up diverse career opportunities. But the drawback is not many engineers in the country has the requisite skills or a prior hands on training,” Narayan noted.

“It is imperative that the educational institutes expose students to practical training during the course module on global lines making them competent enough to handle the challenges later,” he added.

 

Drona Skilling centre

Job-Ready From Day One

The original article appeared in The Statesman

About 1.5 million engineers graduated from more than 3,500 engineering colleges across India in 2014, but how many of them are really employable in the core industries?

One of the studies (Aspiring Minds, Report 2014) says that only a shocking four to seven per cent of them are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors. An earlier study by the World Bank (2010) showed that employers were not satisfied with the fresh engineering graduates they recruited. Graduates seemed to lack higher order thinking skills: analysing, evaluating and creating.

It is this gap between the existing education system and the actual industry requirement that needs to be met. The sunrise industries of aerospace, defence and electronics need thousands of skilled engineers for design as well as manufacture. Today, while we find many training institutes for software, even computer hardware and networking, there are very few training schools for engineers in core disciplines, especially electronics and aerospace engineering design, and none that include robust processes, documentation and project management.

Currently, the Radel Group has embarked on a novel initiative for the engineering fraternity aimed at mentoring and training them in a real industrial environment on live projects to make them industry-ready. The Drona School of Engineering Practice is a timely and unique initiative that focuses on creating skilled engineers, especially for the electronics, aerospace and defence sectors.

There are several areas where the “Apprenternship” programme offered by Drona differs from other training programmes. The most important one is the mentorship provided by veterans of industry and personal guidance from one of the most respected inventors of India. Another key differentiator is the hands-on work experience and exposure to live projects. The student gets an insight into the design and development cycle of defence and aerospace systems that meet global industry standards of performance, reliability and efficiency. The graduate is trained in systematic quality analysis and documentation processes that are essential for a manufacturing industry, especially in the A&D sector.

 The “Apprentern” is provided soft-skills training and a working knowledge of how an industry operates. A fresh engineering graduate who opts for the Drona programme at Radel goes through a complete transformation of his/her thought process, through which critical, analytical and innovative skills blossom.

Training is provided in written and oral communication skills, business etiquette and time management. The engineer emerges at the end of the course as a confident and competent young and dynamic professional, with enhanced communication skills — in effect, industry-ready. Every industrialist is aware of the time, cost and effort of training fresh engineers. In most organisations, the first few months are spent in training new recruits, with literally no output. The Drona programme takes on the initial training effort of the industry and provides the employer with a trained engineer, ready for the job, so that the employer gets productivity from the new engineer right from day one.

The intensive six-month holistic programme, “Campus2Career”, offers several skilling programmes in embedded systems, avionics, electronics design and related domains comprising all aspects that are required to make a fresh engineer job-ready. The aspiring trainee can select from a variety of subject modules that have combinations of embedded software, embedded electronics design, avionics, mechanical Cad and PCB designs, technical documentation and project management, apart from a basic introduction to various facets of industry (production, planning, admin, HR, etc) and, importantly, soft skills such as verbal and written communication, time management and business etiquette.

The first session of Drona’s “Campus2Career” starts from 1 July 2015.

Digital veena inventor who beefed up IAF’s firepower

An entrepreneur who has won a patent for a digital veena, and also designed a mechanism that fires rockets at a command from a computer aboard the Indian Air Force’s Jaguar aircraft? Incongruous but true. The entrepreneurial career of G Raj Narayan, 66, founder and managing director of Bengaluru’s Radel Group, has been guided by his twin passions – aerospace and music.

He spent 10 years as a design engineer at the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) before disillusionment turned the thoughts of this post-graduate from IIT Madras towards entrepreneurship. He finally left HAL in mid-1979.

Within three months he was sub-contracting for Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, supplying electrical coils after investing his savings of Rs 10,000 in a coil winding machine. Together, the group’s two companies – Radel Electronics Pvt. Ltd. (which makes security systems and musical instruments and accounts for 90 per cent of group revenues) and Radel Advanced Technology Pvt. Ltd. (the aerospace business) – employ 80 people and have sales revenues of Rs 10 crore.

Aero India 2015

Radel is still a small enterprise. But Raj Narayan is working with the aviation wing of the Indian Navy, and hopes to get business from the Army too, since Radel is one of the few Indian players to be certified by the Centre for Military Airworthiness Certification – a Defence Research and Development Organisation lab. “I am looking at 100 per cent growth in the next two years, possibly even 150 per cent, if ‘Make in India’ takes off.” Raj Narayan concedes that for nearly 10 years after he started in business, he continued with his “garage mindset”, and it was only when he won an award for electronics in 1987 that he thought, “I must shift to an industrial estate in order to become a bigger player.”

He has taken care to ensure that R&D is Radel’s core strength. “The R&D team gradually grew, but took a quantum jump when the company set up its facility in Electronics City in 1995. The team now has about 16 engineers who design the electronic circuits, the software, the printed circuit boards, the mechanical housings and structures, the plastic cabinets and everything else that contributes to complete product design,” he says.

The disadvantages of being small are repeatedly felt. Though his aerospace company alone has orders in hand worth Rs 1 crore, working capital is hard to get from public sector banks. However, Raj Narayan turned one such disadvantage into a business opportunity. He found it hard to recruit engineering talent. Moreover, new recruits, once trained, would soon depart for greener pastures. So he set up the Drona Centre for Excellence as a division of Radel, “primarily to produce trained and productive engineers out of fresh graduates”.

Since Radel also possesses core aerospace domain expertise, “Drona also offers training courses in avionics systems, besides electronic product design. This allows the trainees and engineers a hands-on exposure to live projects that they can also see physically implemented for a real client,” says Raj Narayan.

This finishing school is the group’s third revenue stream, and so far it has taken in two batches of 30 students each and trained them, after which they were free to leave and join other companies. The centre also holds short-term courses for engineering students during their holidays.
Though in his mid-sixties, Raj Narayan intends to continue at the helm of Radel for six or seven years more. “I am in the process of grooming a second line of leadership, who can take over when I retire,” he explains.

The original article appeared on Business-Standard