Defence component maker, Nibe, opens Pune facililty - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 20 February 2024

Defence component maker, Nibe, opens Pune facililty

These new weapons have been designed by DRDO, with large private firms, such as the Tatas, L&T or Kalyani as production partners. Each of these have co-opted dozens of smaller firms


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 20 Feb 24


Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt inaugurated a production facility for a defence component manufacturer called Nibe In Pune on Monday. This 250,000 square foot shop floor will produce components for a new generation of Indian weaponry – Pinaka rocket launchers and Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (MR-SAMs).


These new weapons systems have been designed by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), with large private companies such as the Tata Group, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) or the Kalyani Group as production partners. 


Each of these big manufacturers have co-opted dozens of smaller firms to feed into the final production line.


Nibe has grown quickly and is seeking a leadership role in organising micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the industrial zones around Pune. 


“We have been appointed knowledge partners to the defence exposition (DefExpo) being organised by the Maharashtra government for MSMEs,” says Balakrishnan Swamy, chief technical officer of Nibe.


The smaller production units do not confine themselves to manufacturing for one or two big firms. Instead, they feed into multiple production lines, maximising their output.


When Larsen & Toubro won the contract to build 100 K-9 Vajra self propelled howitzers for the Indian Army, Nibe pitched to build the Vajra’s hull and turret. “Having begun as a Tier-2 company for L&T, we are in a position today to function as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for many technologies,” says Swamy.


Encashing its close relationship with L&T, Nibe began fabricating large components for the modular bridges that are built by combat engineering units to cross canals and rivers on the battlefield. 


The Swatantra bridge was developed by the DRDO’s Pune-based laboratory, Research and Development (Engineers). They gave L&T the production order and Nibe won an order that essentially made it a feeder shop to L&T. 


“We do much of the contract manufacturing and heavy engineering fabrication for L&T.  That is how we started our journey,” says Swamy


Meanwhile, the firm won a contract to build fuel storage tanks for Canada.


The Nibe facility inaugurated on Monday is in discussion with US small arms (rifles, carbines, light machine guns) manufacturer, Sig Sauer, for setting up a production line for supplying to the Indian Army.


“We are dedicating 40,000 square feet of space to manufacturing Sig Sauer small arms, and another possible 20,000 square feet of mezzanine space. We have applied to the Ministry of Home Affairs for permission to assemble small arms and expect it to be granted soon,” says Swamy.


The company is a debt-free organisation already and has a market capitalisation of about Rs 1,200 crore. In the last fiscal, Nibe posted a turnover of Rs 100 crore, which Swamy says is likely to triple this year to Rs 300 crore. The company hopes to exceed that rate of growth in FY 2024-25 by posting a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore.


“If you take any ministry of defence project, Nibe is up there, getting orders. Having the right resources, having qualified welders, having competitive team, that is what gives us an edge. I already have 475 qualified welders in house. So when any project comes up, I'm up there and ready. I have my machines ready – three-axis, five-axis machines, says Swamy. 

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