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IRNSS-1G being loaded into Large Space Simulation Chamber (LSSC) for thermal vacuum test

by Sajeet Manghat

India’s next navigational satellite will be assembled by a Bangalore based defence company, Alpha Design Technologies Private Ltd. The company has recently signed a contract with the Indian Space Research Organisation for assembly, integration and testing of the Indian Remote Navigational Satellite System satellites.

The IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system being developed by ISRO for India. ISRO has designed it to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1,500 kilometres from its borders.

Alpha Designs is into manufacturing of defence and paramilitary hardware. The company assembles and manufactures military technologies like night vision devices, simulators for tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles, and communications equipment for domestic and export markets.

The recent contract involves on-the-job training for nearly 70 of Alpha’s technologists by ISRO. HS Shankar, the chairman and managing director of Alpha Design Technologies told BloombergQuint on telephone that this training will be for a period of 18 months, during which ISRO will hand-hold through assembly, integration and testing of two satellites.

We have to make available 70 of our key employees to ISRO for training with respect to assembly, integration and testing of satellite. The first satellite will be tested in nine months time. The second satellite will be assembled, integrated and tested by Alpha employees at ISRO’s facility.

HS Shankar, Chairman and Managing Director, Alpha Design Technologies

The company will use this 18 month period to build up its own facility to handle future projects from the space agency. “We are taking some initiative from our own side so that we are prepared in case a larger number of satellites could be made. That larger number of satellites would be made on a competitive bidding process. It is not that we will automatically get that, we have to fight for that we have to show our capabilities and then of course we have competitive prices,” Shankar added.

The company will be investing between Rs 100-150 crore to build this facility in the next the 18 months.

In these eighteen months, we will be investing in establishing our own facilities equivalent to ISRO’s facilities for assembly, integration and testing of satellites and we will be bidding for additional satellite orders from ISRO.

HS Shankar, Chairman and Managing Director, Alpha Design Technologies

For logistical reasons Alpha is planning to set up this independent facility for the space segment close to the ISRO facility. Over the next two years, the company expects to add nearly 400 employees as it scales up its new space related business. The company is looking to tap the market in the next two years to meet capital requirements. “We hope - in the next two years - to become a public limited company,” Shankar said.

Alpha has formed a consortium for this project with five other small and medium enterprises (SMEs). These SMEs are vendors already approved by ISRO, and will support Alpha with assembly parts, specialised cables and electronic circuit boards. These consortium members are,

Vinyas Innovative Technologies Pvt Ltd.
Aidin Technologies Pvt Ltd.
Newtech Devices Pvt Ltd.
DCX Cable Assemblies Pvt Ltd.
Avantel Ltd.

The Satellite Market

Alpha says that in the next three years, ISRO will be launching close to 20-25 satellite per year, of which five to six satellites are for Indian use. The company says new facilities would be equipped to handle this requirement.

It has been indicated to us that there will be at least five to six satellites to be assembled per year. There is a larger number of satellites to be made in the years to come, which ISRO feels that it should be rightly done by the private sector.

HS Shankar, Chairman and Managing Director, Alpha Design Technologies

The contract also allows Alpha Design to tap the export market through Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO. “The space agency has said if required we can also build satellites for the export markets. The export will be through Antrix Corporation. The satellite requirement for the world markets is expected to be 100-200 per year,” Shankar said.

Alpha Design’s Financials

In the last twelve years Alpha has grown from revenues of Rs 25,000 to Rs 402 crore.

For the financial year 2015-16, revenue rose to Rs 402 crore from Rs 240 crore in the previous financial year.

The company has a profit margin of eight to ten percent, and hopes to improve this over the next few years. The company’s order book including exports stands at Rs 2,200 crore. Shankar said these will be executed over the next 5 years.


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