MKU, setup in 1985, has pioneered the advent of light weight armouring solutions in India and has provided protective gears to over 1.5 million soldiers and over 1,500 platforms, including land vehicles, aircraft and naval vessels. It has also developed over 1,000 solutions, used by 230 armed forces in more than 100 countries. In an interview, Neeraj Gupta, MD & CEO, MKU (P) Ltd, tells FE’s Huma Siddiqui about the company’s offerings and the road ahead. Excerpts:
What are the key strengths of MKU?
MKU’s infrastructure spans two units in India and one in Germany. Together, these units have a capacity to produce over 200,000 helmets, 150,000 ballistic jackets and 300,000 armour inserts for defence and security personnel. We can manufacture 72,000 sq m of armour panels annually for platforms. MKU is a registered NATO supplier and has certified quality management systems conforming to ISO 9001-2008 and AS-9100-2009. MKU, thanks to its global exposure, has acquired a keen understanding of the ground situations, environmental conditions and threat scenarios faced by soldiers and law enforcement personnel. This enables us to offer custom solutions. We offer various ballistic packages, including soft and hard armour that is NIJ 0101.06 certified by the National Institute of Justice, US. This kind of certification is issued only after stringent testing.
What kind of opportunities are there for MSMEs in the defence sector?
MSMEs can play an important role in the defence sector. They can complement the large industries by providing them a host of supplementary products and even critical technological components. We have the experience of the auto industry in India
and how from being ancillaries to the auto manufacturers, the auto component manufacturers have today carved out a place for themselves in the global market.
How easy or difficult is it for an SME to get into this field ?
It is not easy for an SME to get into this sector. Their biggest barrier is technology. The lack of infrastructure for R&D and a less than proactive government policy act as major impediments. The initiative, drive and competence are certainly there, and given a reasonable government support SMEs would certainly make a mark for themselves in this field. Indian enterprise has always faced up to the challenges and this is no exception.
How much weightage do you give to R&D in your company?
R&D plays a very important part in keeping the company technologically ahead of the curve. It is very important