In a strategic step towards meeting the diverse and sophisticated forging requirements of the Indian and foreign aerospace and defence entities, QuEST Global Manufacturing, an Indian aerospace engineering and precision manufacturing major, has set up SQuAD Forging India Private limited in collaboration with Aubert Duval, SA, France and Setforge Societe Nouvelle S.A.S. This facility covering an area of 50,000-sq ft and located within India’s first aerospace SEZ(Special Economic Zone) promoted by QuEST Global Manufacturing in 2009-- on the outskirts of Belgaum --will become operational in 2013.Incidentaly, QUeST Global aerospace SEZ is considered a major aeronautical hub outside Bangalore, the traditional nerve centre of Indian aerospace activities. According to Aravind Melligeri, co founder and Chairman of QuEST Global, the setting up of this state of the art forgings facility is in keeping with the vision of bringing to the Indian aerospace sector the “capabilities and expertise” that are either non existent or difficult to come by within the country. Melligeri is quick to point out that high quality forging is one of the key components of the modern aerospace industry.
Significantly, QUeST Global has pulled off the distinction of becoming the first Indian private sector player to manufacture components for direct delivery to Airbus Industries under a long term agreement. This is apart from the MOU that QuEST had earlier signed with the Belgian aerospace entity SABCA for manufacturing metallic parts and assembly work for the Airbus A-350 XWB flap track structure. QuEST Global SEZ is also into the supply chain eco-system of Boeing. Under a contract with Swedish defence and aerospace major Saab, QuEST Global, is producing machined and sheet metal parts of the cargo door of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
QuEST Global aerospace SEZ, spread over an area of 300 acres, also boasts of Aerospace Processing India(API), an independent company that QuEST Global has floated in tie up with Magelan Aerospace. API is the only facility of its kind in the Indian private sector to have built up the capability to offer high quality surface treatment facility. API is patronised by many of the privately owned Indian aerospace and defence outfits including the companies promoted by Tata Industries. API continues to not only expand the portfolio of surface treatment through the addition of new and innovative techniques but also give a “green touch” to the entire process of surface treatment. This scalable facility, which has been in operation since January 2009.like other facilities within SEZ has been approved by OEMs and Tier-1 customers.
The current strength of QuEST Global aerospace SEZ lies in aero-structures and actuation systems. Of course, as noted by Melligeri, further into the future, his aerospace SEZ will look into engineering the entire integrated assemblies for global aerospace OEMS. But then Melligeris makes it clear that as of no the focus of the aerospace SEZs would be on metallic components, thereby implying that composites are not on its radar. But he was quick to add that if some entrepreneur wants to set up a composite facility catering to the needs aerospace sector within the SEZ, he will be welcomed and provided all the support.
Melligeri states that the growth of the aerospace SEZ would be realized through the joint venture route rather than through the path of acquisition. But Melligeri also made a point that he is not averse to the process of acquisition if some good opportunities come by. In 2011,QuEST Global acquired the engineering services division of GKN Aerospace and entered into a long term agreement with the company to provide the engineering skills and resources to support GKN Aerospace’s long term growth strategy.
Melligeri is also quite bullish about the prospects of offset deals that his SEZ could reap in the wake of a series of multi billion dollar defence deals India has signed with global defence and aerospace outfits. Melligeri revealed that a few offset contracts have been signed without giving out details. In particular, Melligeri pins hope on the lucrative opportunities inherent in the US$12-billion dollar contract that India would finalize for the acquisition of 126 medium multi role combat aircraft(MMRCA).
Everything going as planned , India will seal the contract for the acquisition of 126 Rafale combat aircraft, the MMRCA contest winner, before March.2013.
In the ultimate analysis, Melligeri’s strategy is to place the aerospace SEZ as a one stop shop offering design to build services--right from the concept design to finished product—and provide a total ecosystem for the aerospace sector. According to Melligeri, the strategic advantage of having players across the value chain in the same location would be the amount of the time saved in moving parts from one location to another as well as associated cost of logistics.
Radhakrishna Rao, 1921,5th Cross,2nd Phase JP Nagar Bangalore-560078
Radhakrishna Rao in Belgaum