Aeroflex Incorporated manufactures a diverse range of microelectronic and test and measurement products. Aeroflex targets the aerospace, defense cellular and broadband communications markets. The company’s diverse technologies allow it to design, develop, manufacture and market a broad range of test, measurement and microelectronic products. The company recently opened a new office in Bengaluru to achieve its strategic regional goal of strengthening its presence in India. As part of our series titled ‘Global Trade Opportunities’ where we feature global brands who are eager to do business in India, Anurag Gaur from EFYTimes spoke to Stephen Hire, general manager- Aeroflex Asia.
Q. Tell us more about your Bengaluru office.
A. Recognising the tremendous potential of the Indian market, Aeroflex opened a new office in Bengaluru in 2011. This office is the country’s nucleus for Aeroflex’s sales, service, and application support for Aeroflex’s T&M products and systems. The Bengaluru office will help the company to achieve a strategic regional goal of strengthening its presence and response time in India. With a current strength of 12 people, Aeroflex is looking to rapidly expand its footprint and sales across all sectors of the India market.
The new office is also instrumental in driving the new product launches in India. Recent additions to the Aeroflex test portfolio include LTE device test, TETRA radio test and microwave components test. All these are of particular relevance to the Indian market as they closely track important developments in Indian consumer, government and defence markets.
Q. Can you share details about your products and services?
A. Our products and services first and foremost include Wireless Testing. Wireless test equipment is used by wireless service providers and equipment manufacturers to test wireless handsets and base stations. Aeroflex products address infrastructure and mobile handset testing and support at all stages of mobile phone and radio access network equipment development, manufacturing and deployment.
Aeroflex offers a wide selection of tests across an array of wireless technologies, standards and communication frequencies, including WLAN, WiMAX, 2G and 3G, with particular capability in EDGE protocols, and the new 4G LTE/LTE-A protocols. Tests also support FDD and TDD technology modes. Taking LTE as an example, products include a broad range of system, protocol, physical layer and parametric test solutions, such as the 7100 LTE Test Set for devices, TM500 LTE Test Mobile for eNode Bs, as well as signal generators and analysers for general purpose and manufacturing applications.
Aeroflex’s market leading product, the TM500, emulates a single or multihandset environment and is used by all major global infrastructure development organisations.
Our second broad offering is Defence, Radio and Avionics Testing. Aeroflex offers a full range of test solutions covering the needs of civil and defence communications. Its solutions cover both general purpose and specialty test equipment for use in research and development, manufacturing, service and field testing. Aeroflex’s radio test equipment is used by radio manufacturers and military, police, fire and emergency response units to test hand-held radio units.
Aeroflex provides TErrestrial Trunked RAdio, or TETRA, and Project 25, or P25, radio test equipment, addressing both mobile and repeater test applications. TETRA is a global standard for private mobile radio, or PMR, systems used by emergency services, public transport and utilities. P25 is a standard for digital radio communications for use by federal, state, private, and local public safety agencies in North America. Aeroflex military communications testing systems are primarily used by the U.S. military to test complex voice and data frequency hopping radios and accessories.
Avionics test equipment is used in the design, manufacture, test and maintenance of commercial, civil and military airborne electronic systems, or avionics. Aeroflex equipment provides the stimulus and signals necessary for certification, verification, fault finding and diagnosis of airborne systems on the ground. For civil and commercial aviation, Aeroflex has test solutions for various transponder modes, communications frequencies, emergency locator transmitters, weather radars and GPS systems. For military aviation, Aeroflex has test solutions for microwave landing systems, tactical air navigation, enhanced traffic alert and collision avoidance systems, various identification friend or foe, or IFF, transponder/interrogator modes and IFF monopulse antenna simulation. Aeroflex also provides customized avionics test solutions to support manual and automatic test equipment for manufacturing, repair and ground support operations.
Aeroflex regards itself as the market leader for specialty two-way radio and avionics test equipment. Aeroflex test equipment is used by the majority of the world’s leading suppliers of communications and avionics systems.
Q. How do you see India as a market for your products (or services)?
A. There is limited data on the exact size of the T&M market in India, however, we see growth potential across the telecommunications and defence/aviation sectors. It would be great if someone did more research on T&M sector in India.
Companies working for Indian armed forces continue to invest in upgrading equipment and deploying newer and more sophisticated systems for communications, surveillance and defence. The balance between manpower and technology is also shifting with technology and electronic warfare solutions playing a greater role in India’s defence and aviation portfolio.
Aeroflex also provides wireless testing solutions for the telecommunication industry. The Indian IT and telecommunications sectors are going from strength to strength with multinational companies outsourcing ever increasing amounts of value-added work to their Indian subsidiaries and partners. India is taking a leadership position on TD-LTE and that will further drive development of the industry.
These trends require greater R&D, manufacturing and maintenance capabilities. Not surprisingly, as systems become more sophisticated, the test equipment required at all stages must also become more sophisticated.
Q. Which products or services do you expect to sell more in a country like India?
A. We are seeing growth across the entire market range. With the ever increasing sophistication of products being developed in India, both commercial and defence, this initially drives demand for more advanced R&D tools, which then progresses through manufacturing and into service/deployment.
As an example, the demands placed on radar systems to track multiple potential threats or targets put significant demands on the test equipment needed for manufacturing because in order to achieve performance goals, tens of thousands of measurements need to be made in order to correctly calibrate over power, phase and frequency ranges. And of course, this must all be done in tight timescales.
Aeroflex has pioneered the development of synthetic test systems, which allow radar and satellite payload manufacturers to carry out huge numbers of high accuracy microwave measurements in a fraction of the time of traditional “rack and stack” systems.
Q. What is your current strategy with respect to the Indian market?
A. Important new opportunities in India have been created by the awarding of the TD-LTE broadband wireless access licenses, the increasing presence of major R&D facilities, and the warming of defense ties between the United States and India. Aeroflex is a very strong player in these markets, making it the perfect time to increase its footprint in India.
As in other countries, our Indian customers expect the highest level of service and support from their suppliers. Therefore, a key part of the development of the India subsidiary has been the investment in pre- and post-sales technical support; service capabilities and spares holdings to ensure that our customers receive the quality of customer care that they expect.
Q. Besides the Bengaluru office, do you have any partners in India?
A. Aeroflex has a long-standing distributor, Blue Star Limited, who provides additional sales and support for test and measurement customers. As part of their customer care, they have also invested in setting up an NABL accredited calibration facility. Blue Star has test and measurement offices in Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
To get in touch with us directly, you can contact our Bengaluru office at [email protected].
Q. Are you looking for partners, such as distributors, system integrators, etc. for India?
A. Aeroflex engages with a wide variety of business partners around the world. In India, we already have a very successful partnership with Blue Star Limited who provide sales and support plus manage relationships with systems integrators. We also have a number of partnerships with companies providing R&D services.
Q. What are the challenges you foresee or have experienced while dealing with India?
A. Aeroflex is known for being the first to market with new technology. In many cases, we need to deliver test capability in parallel with when the major equipment vendors and chipset developers are delivering theirs. Being first with new technology is always a challenge as we are often the first in our industry that is grappling with understanding the standards and then correctly implementing them.
Fortunately, we have some very talented engineers in both our Indian development centers who have very deep understanding of the 3G and LTE standards.
Another challenge is the import/export time for equipment. It generally takes 1-2 weeks to clear equipment, which means that we need to look at different models for post-sales support compared to other countries. To overcome this, we have made a larger investment in local repair/calibration facilities and spare parts so that we can offer competitive turnaround times on the majority of products.
Q. Have you ever engaged in any marketing activity to generate business from India?
A. Aeroflex has carried out a number of marketing activities including exhibitions (most recently, the avionics-focused MRO India show in Mumbai) as well as advertising online and in print. We’ve generally been pleased with the results obtained from these activities.
Q. What is your annual turnover as per the latest available financial report?
A. For the last financial year to 30 June 2012, Aeroflex’s turnover was $673m.