The Indian Government has identified the aerospace & defence industry as one of the key growth sectors and is working towards furthering various schemes such as Make in India to promote modernization and indigenisation. With India encouraging the participation of private and foreign players in the industry, the sector is expecting significant growth through long term opportunities and partnerships. During an interaction with Nitisha; Sunil Motwani, Country Manager – Sales & Services, MathWorks India talks about the modernisation in the aerospace & defence sectors, the role of emerging technologies such as AI in revamping the sectors, state of digital transformation in these sectors, and technologies used by key companies in the industry for design and simulation of mission-critical systems.
Could you give us an overview on the aerospace & defence industry in India?
In India, the aerospace industry is growing significantly with the rising activities from both the defence and civil aviation sector. Similarly, as India’s defence capital expenditure spending is continuously growing, there are also many opportunities in defence aerospace. This offers opportunities for start-ups as well as further expansion for existing players. The Indian aerospace & defence (A&D) market is projected to reach ~US$ 70 billion by 2030, driven by the burgeoning demand for advanced infrastructure and government thrust.
Could you highlight the role of emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning in the industry?
Artificial intelligence has played a major role in developing the aerospace industry by providing valuable information that might otherwise be difficult to be obtained via conventional methods. Artificial intelligence plays a significant role in cutting costs, reducing the design cycle time, simulation, prototyping, optimization, maintenance, manufacturing and updating products and is all set to drive many developments in the aerospace sector in the next 15 years. Advances in AI could help aerospace companies optimize their manufacturing processes. However, there is limited adoption of machine learning techniques in the aviation industry and the main reason for this is the lack of access to high-quality data, increased dependability on simple models as compared to complex models and a lack of skilled workforce and partners to implement it effectively. But with the right partner, AI can be a disruptive technology that will impact the efficiency, productivity as well as the speed and innovation of the aerospace companies.
What are some of the trends expected in this industry in 2022?
In 2022, the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry is expected to focus on innovation to develop new technologies and solutions, create new markets, and expand growth opportunities. Digital thread and smart factory could move into the mainstream of A&D company operating systems in 2022
To improve the customer experience, aerospace companies could invest in digital platforms in 2022 to enhance customers’ visibility to production and material systems, integrate applications across platforms, and improve linkage to engineering data. Moreover, many companies will likely leverage digital technologies to offer proactive and predictive maintenance capabilities as these digital service offerings could help them gain a competitive edge and provide an enhanced customer experience. In 2022, developments along three key areas—the launch industry, satellite trends, and new technology—could drive growth in space-based services to offer tangible value for businesses, society, and consumers.
AAM is gaining increased momentum and gradually becoming mainstream, especially as companies developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft continue to receive substantial investment from sources ranging from traditional aerospace companies to private equity investors.
What impact of technology do you think is transforming the Government’s Make in India scheme?
Govt of India’s Make in India initiative has a strong thrust on defence and aerospace. The focus is on enhancing the potential of domestic manufacturing. The defence ministry’s ambitious target of having a significant self-reliance in defense by 2027 is slated to open up opportunities for the industry players. In addition to the policies under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Scheme, the government looks invested in helping startups and MSMEs that shall eventually help them integrated into the global supply chains.
According to you, what are the impacts of Budget 2022 announcements on the industry?
The aerospace and Defence industry has been one of the priority industries for the Government of India over many years. The highest ever defence budget of INR5.25lakh crores was allocated in the union budget 2022. The Government has committed to increase the domestic procurement to 68% (from 58% last year), which is aligned with the vision of AatmaNirbhar Bharat. Another major announcement is the opening of defence R&D for private industry, startups and academia by allocating 25% of defence R&D budget to them. This would give boost to the domestic industry to develop indigenous capabilities and enable more deeper inclusion of global large aerospace OEMs in India-based research ecosystem. In addition, the budget explicitly called Space sector as ‘sunrise opportunity’. Recent reforms in Space sector to encourage participation by private players would propel the growth of this sector.
How are MathWorks’ tools are used in major programs?
Aerospace and defense companies worldwide rely on MATLAB® and Simulink® across all technology readiness levels, from prototypes to their most important safety and mission critical systems. Lockheed Martin engineers developed a sophisticated Simulink model to reduce life-cycle costs and increased the mission readiness of their major programs by minimizing downtime. Model-Based Design has deep roots into the complex programs developed by major organizations like Boeing, Airbus, NASA, ISRO, DRDO, BEL etc.
How MathWorks tools can be used to accelerate research and development in areas like autonomous systems, hypersonics, advanced wireless systems, and hybridization and electrification of aircraft?
The development of state-of-the-art aerospace programs is challenging and demands strong collaboration among interdisciplinary teams involved in the program. I would say that working in silos is tribal in today’s world. Model-Based Design framework encourages seamless collaboration among all the teams. Interdisciplinary teams use MATLAB® and Simulink® as a common working environment for multi-domain modelling in newer technology areas like autonomous or hypersonic systems, 5G/6G communication systems or electrical aircraft. From systems engineering to platform modeling, environment simulation, and autonomy algorithm design, Model-Based Design helps to reduce risk and build confidence in system performance early in the life cycle.
What do you think are some of the major challenges that industries are facing since the pandemic?
We should start looking at some of the challenges as opportunities now. As in many other areas, digital transformation and its adoption has been a challenge and opportunity. The pandemic has accelerated the pace at which organizations are embracing digitization. Aerospace industry has also been impacted. The obvious challenges offered by the pandemic-induced limitations have forced most organizations to look at ways to automate more and looking at supply chain resiliency.
How was business in the year 2020-2021 and what will be the future marketing strategy for MathWorks?
MathWorks has been always focused on serving our customers. When the pandemic hit, one of the biggest challenges were to help our customers have continued access to the software and tools, while working out of their homes. We worked with the customers – students, startups, academicians, corporates to help them. We continued our technical support and sharing of resources that help them continue their learning curve while addressing the business challenges. We enabled virtual labs for researchers and students and academicians while extending usage of licenses through various modes to our customers. It was natural to see disturbance in businesses for all of us during a pandemic. However, we continued listening to our customers and supported them. Our main event MATLAB EXPO went virtual for the first time in 2021 and it ended up being the largest event for us, ever. We had great participation from India across the cross section of our customers. The global content was well received. The live virtual sessions continued to impart knowledge on various technologies including AI, Wireless, Electrification amongst others. We continue to have the same focus and approach in 2022.
Any upcoming project launch for MathWorks in the next few months?
MathWorks follows a twice-yearly general release schedule, with one release in the March timeframe and a second in the September timeframe. Each general release synchronizes the full MATLAB® and Simulink® product families, delivering new features and bug fixes for existing products and, when available, new products.
A twice-yearly release delivery model offers several benefits:
- Rapid response to your requests for specific features due to frequent releases
- High quality and improved backward compatibility, resulting from incremental development of new features to reduce the risk of introducing incompatibilities, combined with faster delivery of bug fixes
- Easy and efficient upgrades, since the predictable schedule enables you to plan how and when to evaluate, test, and install new releases for yourself or your organization