In just three short years, Saab’s joint venture with Indian manufacturer Aequs has gone from being simply an idea to becoming an efficient and thriving manufacturing facility.
According to Aequs’s Chief Financial Officer, Rajeev Kaul, what has made the Aerostructures Assemblies India (AAI) venture so successful is that both partners have brought valuable skills to the relationship, and they share common values. “We both have similar strategies related to the target market space, and we have a similar management style,” says Kaul. “Both parties are very open to discussing and sharing things, and I think the values are the same.”
The relationship between the two companies began in 2009 when Aequs began supplying parts to Saab for use in Boeing 787 cargo doors. In 2012, the companies started to explore the possibility of a partnership. “Saab was looking for a partner in India so it could establish a base, and we were at the same time looking to get into aerostructure assembles ourselves,” says Kaul. “It became apparent there was mutual benefit.”
Progress was rapid. After just six months of talks, an agreement was signed in December 2012, and construction of a production facility began the following February. Operator training took place in June, and operations began in August 2013. The first delivery of assemblies for use in the Airbus A380 programme took place in February 2014.
Kaul says Saab has contributed expertise in areas such as engineering knowledge and project management, while Aequs has contributed manufacturing skills and knowledge of the Indian market and local supply chains.
The relationship has quickly evolved. “Initially everything was supplied by Saab, and AAI’s focus was only on production,” says Kaul. “Once that was achieved, the next step was AAI taking ownership of the supply chain. For example, one of the parts was being manufactured by a machine-part manufacturer in India and sent to Saab, who then sent it to AAI. So the logical step was for AAI to buy directly from that manufacturer.”
With production running efficiently, the partners are working together to secure further contracts. In September 2015, Saab signed a contract with Airbus for the design, development and manufacture of the Door Plug 3 and Cover Plate for the A321. Most of the development will be completed by Saab India Tech Centre in Hyderabad, with assembly being undertaken by AAI.