Udayant Malhoutra: The fallback man for global aerospace companies

Udayant Malhoutra
In the 1990s, when India was struggling with issues in the hydraulic systems of its Russian built T-72 battle tanks, it looked for a solution within. The Army was battling a shortage of tanks in its fleet; spares from Russia were expensive and took time to arrive. Udayant Malhoutra, a third-generation entrepreneur from Bengaluru, took up the challenge to indigenise the hydraulic pumps for lubrication and transmission used in the Russian tanks.

As luck would have it, Malhoutra delivered on his promise and Dynamatic Technologies, a manufacturer of hydraulic pumps, got into the defence and aerospace domain. Next came the opportunity to build the hydraulic pumps for the indigenous main battle tank Arjun and Malhoutra was quick to take up the project.

As a child, Malhoutra’s hobby was to build toy planes and at 20, he joined his grand mother's company. So, when Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) looked for outside partners to help produce wings and fuselage of the pilot-less target aircraft Lakhsya, he grabbed it. Malhoutra began working on the project in a garage behind the hydraulics plant that his father had built.

Since then, Malhoutra has grown wings – building components and systems for global aerospace makers such as Boeing and Airbus. Being in Bengaluru, the country’s technology hub, he could have looked at replicating the success of the IT services model – move majority of the work offshore while hiring people on projects on site for critical work.

Malhoutra says the only way a manufacturing company can thrive is by collaborating and creating a global delivery system based on comparative and complementary advantages of each location.

In the UK, where Dynamatic has factories and access to critical material for the Flap-track-Beam assemblies it makes for Airbus, it does complex machining; in India, it uses the artisanal craftsmanship and final assembly of the system. “Without the UK leg, we wouldn’t be competitive in India and vice-versa,” says Malhoutra, who knows every individual working in his factories. As a hands-on boss, he also ensures that no individual is idle and involves them in various activities in the organisation.

Today, Dynamatic is among the world’s largest suppliers of hydraulic pumps and also supplies automobile systems for companies such as BMW and Audi, adopting the same model. Malhoutra, who bets on technology for growth, says: “IT services is so yesterday.”

It is no wonder, then, that British Prime Minister Theresa May is skipping IT services brands such as Infosys and Wipro to visit Dynamatic and learn about the future. It is in May's interest as Dynamatic is generating local jobs in her country, while expanding teams in India. “The future is competency-based, robotics, artisanal craftsmanship, digital engineering, and design married with technology,” says Malhoutra. 

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