CIO Insider

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Systems Aids: Indigenizing Electronic Equipment in Defense & Aerospace Industry

K Venkatasubramanian,CEO

Four decades ago, at a time when almost all the small-scale industries in India were in the business of either manufacturing consumable products or sub-contracting them, Systems Aids, in the year 1982, pioneered high tech-products development for high-end, complex defense & aerospace applications in the country. The company started developing ground based electronic equipment, particularly when the country was up against the hurdles of importing parts from developed countries; not to mention the exorbitant price tags of foreign products and prolonged delivery period. Systems Aids is one among a handful of small-scale industries in the country to venture into this niche area, thanks to the national laboratory, where the promoter of the company gained knowledge, which in turn encouraged the indigenization and import substitution product development. CIO Insider engages in an exclusive chat session with the company’s CEO, K Venkatasubramanian.

In conversation with K Venkatasubramanian, CEO, Systems Aids

As a legacy organization, where is Systems Aids positioned in today’s Defense & Aerospace industry as an electronics solutions provider? What are the areas that your company focuses on?
Our legacy spreads over the past four decades and a strong portfolio of indigenous embedded products & solutions developed using state-of-the-art technologies. We take pride in the fact that we have been able to carry out the substitution of import-products, constant feature upgrades, cost optimization, and much more in the defense & aerospace industry.

We, at Systems Aids, focus on design, development, and manufacture of Line Replaceable Units (LRU’s) for airborne applications – either Fit-Form-Function indigenous replacements of existing units or units with new functionality. The development of ground equipment for testing, diagnostics, maintenance, etc. such as Automated Test Equipment (ATE), Data Replay Units, Simulators, and Manipulators, is also our forte.

What makes Systems Aids a unique provider in the industry? Also, while catering to such a quality sensitive industry, how do you ensure the intact quality of your deliverables?

Winding back four decades, while the small-scale industries were generally into developing and manufacturing consumable products or subcontract work/services to ensure regular flow of funds, Systems Aids pioneered high-tech product development for high-end complex applications with stringent specifications & compliance requirements. Something really rare then, it took a few professionals who were passionate about contributing to nation building in their own small way. They developed technologies locally and enthused youngsters towards this goal. Systems Aids was willing to take up the ‘one-of-its-kind development job’ that required special dedicated skill-set as a part of import substitution.

Systems Aids pioneered high-tech product development for high-end complex applications with stringent specifications & compliance requirements

Many industries were reluctant to take up the job due to the lack of continued production orders and the need for retaining skilled-workforce till the completion of the project; to say nothing of the complex, stringent compliance requirements that took hand holding from defense PSUs, dedicated government R&D labs, and testing facilities across the country. A lot of passion, skill and persistence were the cost of our success!

Sundar Raman, COO

Today, with close to four decades of experience, we are an ISO9001:2015 certified boutique design house (CEMILAC) that develops products/solutions in the areas of electronics, embedded, electro-mechanical, software, and offers full lifecycle support. We are specialists who take up challenging developments with brief/sketchy requirement specifications and work with customers to realize their needs. Furthermore, we effectively use the eco-system within the region, including test facilities & labs, consultants, etc.

Tell us about your Solutions. What are the kind of technology capabilities that we are talking about?
Our portfolio of products spans across everything from Excitation & Demodulation Unit to Multi-Input Audio Warning System, Master Blinker Unit,

Automatic Test Equipment and many others. In most of the cases, the customer provides only the overall specifications with input/output requirements. We have to deduce from that and work out the design which will go through a number of iterations before taking the final shape as products.

It is a long drawn, time consuming process. In most of the cases, the bare products given for indigenization will be decades old, which, in fact, is very common among defense related products. The obsolescence management is really a huge predicament. We are abreast with the latest technologies and implement the same using recently released parts so that the longevity of the end products is taken care of, which is a prerequisite in defense/aerospace fields.

Ramandeep Singh, Head - Innovation & Strategy

Could you share with us a case study of one of your successful deployments? What were the initial challenges faced by the client and how did your solution make a difference?
We have a number of indigenously developed products which are unique in nature like the MIG21 simulator hardware, automated FDR test equipment for Tejas aircraft, and avionics air borne Line Replaceable Units (LRU) for Jaguar aircraft. Many of them have been flying almost for two decades satisfactorily. Thus, understanding the nitty-gritty requirements and choosing the right components, parts, and material were herculean tasks. To bring up a functionally working unit to Military qualified standards was an ordeal. The approval of the basic design at different stages, inspection at various levels, quality acceptance plan, type tests, safety of operation in the flying conditions were also really challenging.

What are the opportunities that you foresee in the post-covid-19 era? What’s Systems Aids’ future roadmap?
With the government’s initiative of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the industries are looking at local development & manufacturing and possible export opportunities. Moreover, our experience in the defense arena over close to four decades will enable us without any entry barriers to explore new areas. Going forward, we continue to get actively involved in indigenization programs in the aerospace/defense sector – both on the MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul) front as well as the manufacturing side.

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