BEL, Smiths Detection, to build high-tech scanners within three years - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla

BEL will manage initial market requirements and support localization of projects, while Smiths Detection will provide screening technology

By Vikas Gupta

Defence News of India, 7 September 22

With India’s growing needs for large-scale digitization of containers, vehicles, critical infrastructure, stadiums and defense installations, public sector defense company Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) prepares to manufacture high-energy X-ray screening facilities in India.

To achieve this goal, BEL announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Smiths Detection India for the manufacture of technologically advanced scanners – mobile and stationary.

BEL officials say they cannot disclose specific scanner requirements and numbers, but the memorandum of understanding estimates that BEL could start producing scanners within three years.

Smiths Detection, headquartered in the UK, has been operating in India for over 20 years. In October 2021, Smiths Detection opened its new Global Technology Development Center in Bangalore. It will be a global hub for the development and delivery of new digital technologies for customers in the aviation, defence, urban security and ports and borders sectors.

Over the past 6-8 years, Smiths Detection has operated four stationary scanning systems. It 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.

Today, however, with the increase in the movement of people and goods around critical infrastructure, land borders and urban hotspots, there is a growing need for screening technologies in India. To facilitate the conduct of business and enhance security, the Indian government prioritizes port and land border security.

Additionally, the requirement for advanced X-ray scanning technology is driven by defense installations, which must monitor large volumes of vehicles entering sensitive areas.

And with New Delhi promoting cross-border vehicle trade in sensitive border locations such as Poonch in Jammu, Uri in Kashmir and Nathu La in Sikkim, there is a need for large mobile scanners to increase the throughput of these facilities.

Additionally, there is a need to be able to scan containers on a moving train, as has been implemented at JNPT.

“While defense is its mainstay, BEL is continuously exploring opportunities in allied non-defence areas, such as homeland security, network security and cybersecurity. Through this combination with Smiths Detection, BEL will seek to meet the needs of the emerging market for high-energy scanning systems, a step closer to ‘Atmanirbharta’ (self-reliant India),” said BEL’s Bhanu Prakash Srivastava.

This MoU marks Smiths Detection’s first manufacturing operation in India. BEL will manage the initial market requirements and support the localization of the projects. Smiths Detection will provide its screening technology. The MoU is for five years and can be extended by mutual consent.

Last September, the government announced that a Mobile X-Ray Container Scanning System (MXCS) had been installed at Paradeep Port, at a cost of Rs 30 crore. He said the scanner can scan up to 25 containers per hour, allowing industry to get their containers out quickly and safely.