With India’s growing need for large-scale scanning of containers, vehicles, critical infrastructure, stadiums and defenses, public defense contractor Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is preparing to manufacture high-energy X-ray screening equipment in India.
With this goal in mind, BEL has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Smiths Detection India to manufacture technologically advanced scanners – both mobile and fixed.
BEL officials say they can’t reveal specific requirements and numbers for scanners, but the MoU estimates BEL could start producing scanners within three years.
Headquartered in the UK, Smiths Detection has been operating in India for over 20 years. In October 2021, Smiths Detection opened its new Global Technology Development Center in Bengaluru. This will be a global center for the development and delivery of new digital technologies for customers in the aerospace, defence, urban security and ports and borders sectors.
Smiths Detection has operated four stationary scanning systems over the last 6-8 years. It has also operated eight mobile scanners at six port locations – Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (three scanners), Paradip, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kamaraj Port Trust and New Mangalore Port Trust.
However, due to the increasing movement of people and goods around critical infrastructure, land borders and urban sensitive points, there is a growing need for screening technologies in India. In order to facilitate business transactions and enhance security, the Government of India prioritizes port and land border security.
Additionally, the need for advanced X-ray scanning technology is being driven by defense facilities that need to screen large numbers of vehicles entering sensitive areas.
And with New Delhi encouraging cross-border vehicular traffic at sensitive border locations like Poonch in Jammu, Uri in Kashmir and Nathu La in Sikkim, there is a need for large, mobile scanners to increase throughput at these facilities.
There is also a requirement to be able to scan containers on a moving train, as implemented at JNPT.
“Although defense is its main pillar, BEL has continually explored opportunities in allied non-defense areas such as homeland security, and network and cyber security. Through this association with Smiths Detection, BEL will seek to serve the emerging market for high-energy scanning systems, another step towards ‘Atmanirbharta’ (self-sufficient India),” said BEL’s Bhanu Prakash Srivastava.
This MoU marks Smiths Detection’s first manufacturing operation in India. BEL takes on the front-end needs of the market and supports the localization of projects. Smiths Detection provides its screening technology. The MoU has a term of five years and can be further extended by mutual agreement.
Last September, the government announced that a Mobile X-Ray Container Scanning System (MXCS) had been installed in the Port of Paradeep at a cost of Rs 30 crore. The scanner can scan up to 25 containers per hour, enabling the industry to outsource their containers quickly and safely.