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04-09-2015 DEFENCE NEWS

Over the last 118 years Godrej & Boyce has evolved from making locks to giving India a lock on the planet mars. Its expertise in precision engineering and precision machining has helped the company grow in tandem with the Indian space research programme.

Today, it has secured itself an immovable place in sectors like Indian defence, Indian space exploration, and Indian aerospace and is planning a Rs 150 crore capex plan to further cement its leadership position.

For CNBC-TV18’s special series “Make In India: A New Deal For Defence” Sajeet Manghat travelled to Pirojshahnagar on the outskirts of Mumbai to get a first hand look at the capabilities of this shy company.

Godrej & Boyce, the holding company of the Godrej Group, started its journey by manufacturing high quality locks in 1897. Along the way, some 30-odd years ago, this locksmith decided to help India unlock the mysteries of space. The company has 5 industrial licenses to manufacture defence products. but back in 1985, the company realized that cementing and sustaining a strong position in defence and space would mean heavy investment, for building technologies, for enhancing capabilities, for putting in place cutting-edge infrastructure and more importantly, getting specialized manpower on board.

Kaustubh Shukla, COO, Industrial Products Division, Godrej & Boyce said:: “I will put a ball park figure, for defence I could say about Rs 300 crores of investment in plant machinery, development of technology and in building capabilities and space I would add another Rs 100 cr or so.”

ISRO gave the company a further nudge when, after asking the company to participate in the Indian Space Programme, it pumped in a cool Rs 100 crore into Godrej’s facilities. This money went into bringing in new technologies and equipment – equipment that Godrej is using to this day to develop engines for ISRO.

According to SM Vaidya, EVP & Business Head, Godrej Aerospace, they identified the hidden strength within the Godrej divisions and they gave us opportunities to work on those high end alloys and very precision tolerances and moved from detailed parts to assemblies from Vikas engine to Cryogenic engines. He said: “There are three different variants of Cryogenic engines which are made by us. One of the largest boosters for 200 tones is being developed by us now.”

One of the first feathers in the company’s cap came in 1994. That’s when it delivered its first liquid propulsion engine to ISRO for ground testing. Four years later, with the successful launch of the first PSLV, Godrej had officially arrived. By then ISRO was ready to take space research to the next level, and Godrej was embroiled in a race to design and manufacture a cryogenic engine.

“In 1996 we signed the first contract for the cryogenic engine and that engine was delivered in 2002. For the ground tests and once again the tech transfer was not complete and we had lot of learning’s and we developed it along with ISRO new variants with modifications in that so that and just recently we had the second successful flight also,” said Vaidya.

The next big boost came from former president APJ Abdul Kalam but that was much before he became president.

Vaidya said, when Dr Kalam moved from ISRO to DRDO and coined the IGMT 5 missile programme, we started contributing to the riveted structures and then into the tank ages and then into the engines. For the Prithvi Missile which uses the liquid engine. We have made the quite a large contribution. More than 60 liquid engines we have made from our facilities here.

Over the years, Godrej has invested substantially in developing the Brahmos facility, nearly Rs 100 crore have gone into setting up the serial production of the missile. Today, Godrej supplies 6 assemblies for the Brahmos Missile.

Discussions with Brahmos corporation for use of a liquid engine are also on-going, and Godrej has been shortlisted to cater to this variant as well. Of course, all this will mean further expansion for Godrej & Boyce.
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