DCM Shriram Industries is focusing on developing and manufacturing versatile drones that will be used not just in the defence sector but across the board, its Joint President Rudra Shriram has said.
The company is engaged in the businesses of sugar, chemicals and industrial fibre and has a turnover of around Rs 8,000 crore.
Entered drone market at correct time: Jt President Rudra Shriram
It had last year invested $1 million (about Rs 7 crore) to purchase 30 percent stake in Turkish drone company Zyrone Dynamics.
'Luckily, we entered the (drone) market at the correct time and we have products ready of the market,'' Shriram told PTI in an interview.
He said the idea is to manufacture drones completely in India.
''The idea is to Make in India. Even for them (Zyrone), it is expensive to manufacture there. So, they can concentrate on technology development and we can concentrate on manufacturing at scale,'' he noted.
Co has licences to manufacture defence drones
He said DCM Shriram has a research and development (R&D) facility in Delhi and it has licences to manufacture defence drones across its facilities in India.
He further said it will not take the company a long time to scale up its manufacturing capability of drones once it gets the orders.
''Currently, it (drone) is at a testing stage. So, there is no real scale right now...In the next few weeks, we will be sending our products (drones) for proper qualitative trials,'' he added.
He clarified that the company has not won any contract from the Indian defence forces as yet.
When asked what made the DCM Shriram Group interested in the drone sector, he replied, ''We basically took a view to get into defence manufacturing particularly when the Defence Procurement Procedure 2013 (DPP 2013) came out. It set a fairly level playing for manufacturing for defence sector in India.
''In armed forces, there is a requirement for equipment that they are not able to get from traditional defence public sector undertakings or other companies. So, one of the verticals we looked at then was UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles),'' he added.
The DCM Shriram Group entered the drone sector at a right time when the drone policy and other aspects were being talked about, he noted.
Govt should form a committee
He, however, said maturity in the commercial drone sector is a little far away right now and a ''committee'' should be formed by the government to take decisions regarding issues such as air traffic management.
He added that the commercial drone sector is a huge market, especially in a country like India.
In cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, where there are so many traffic issues, drones are great tools to deliver medication and emergency aid, he noted.
Company's focus to provide platform for various applications
Asked what is the focus of the DCM Shriram Group in the drone sector, he said, ''Our focus is across the board. Our focus is to provide platforms for various applications and defence and strategic use is one part of it.
''We talked about the agriculture business. Maybe that will need a sudden push, such as in pesticide spraying. We are involved in sugar business. We also give support to our farmers for development of cane crops. So, this product (drone) can be used there and we can provide that service,'' he added.
The more versatile the product, the more markets and avenues you have to access, Shriram said.
He said the drones that the company is manufacturing can be modified for multiple purposes, including agricultural uses.
(With PTI inputs)