BEL, Smiths Detection, to build high-tech scanners within three years - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 6 September 2022

BEL, Smiths Detection, to build high-tech scanners within three years


BEL will handle front-end market requirements and support localisation of projects, while Smiths Detection will provide screening technology


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 7th Sept 22


With India’s growing requirement for large scale scanning of containers, vehicles, critical infrastructure, stadiums and defence facilities, defence public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is readying to manufacture high-energy X-ray screening facilities in India.


Towards this objective, BEL has announced the inking a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Smiths Detection India for manufacturing technologically advanced scanners -- mobile as well as stationary.

BEL officials say they cannot divulge specific scanner requirements and numbers, but the MoU estimates that BEL could begin producing scanners within three years. 

UK-headquartered Smiths Detection has been operating in India for over 20 years. In October 2021, Smiths Detection opened its new Global Technology Development Centre in Bangalore. This will be a global hub for developing and delivering new digital technologies for customers across the aviation, defence, urban security, and ports and borders industries. 

Over the last 6-8 years, Smiths Detection has operated four stationary scanning systems. It has also operated eight mobile scanners in six port locations – Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (three scanners), Paradip, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kamaraj Port Trust and New Mangalore Port Trust.

Now, however, with increased movement of people and goods around critical infrastructure, land borders and urban sensitive points, there is a growing requirement for screening technologies in India. To facilitate ease of doing business and to enhance safety, the Indian government is prioritising port and land border security. 


Moreover, the requirement for advanced X-ray scanning technology is being driven by defence facilities, which need to screen large volumes of vehicles entering sensitive areas. 


And with New Delhi promoting vehicular cross-border trade at sensitive border locations such as Poonch in Jammu, Uri in Kashmir and Nathu La in Sikkim, there is a requirement for large, mobile scanners to increase the throughput of these facilities.


In addition, there is a requirement for being able to scan containers on a moving train, as has been implemented at JNPT.


“Though defence is its mainstay, BEL has been continuously exploring opportunities in allied non-defence areas like homeland security and network and cyber security. Through this tie-up with Smiths Detection, BEL will look at catering to the emerging market for high-energy scanning systems, yet another step in the direction of “Atmanirbharta” (self-reliant India),” said Bhanu Prakash Srivastava of BEL.


This MoU marks Smiths Detection’s first manufacturing operation in India. BEL will handle front end requirements in the market and support the localisation of projects. Smiths Detection will provide its screening technology. The MoU is for five years and can be extended further by mutual consent. 


Last September, the government had announced that a Mobile X-Ray Container Scanning System (MXCS) had been installed at Paradeep Port, at a cost of Rs 30 crore. It said the scanner could scan up to 25 containers per hour, enabling industry to move out their containers quickly and securely.

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