A look at the Research and Development Establishment (Engineers), Pune, of the DRDO.
Continuing research and development of weaponry and equipment in tune with the emerging trends in cutting-edge technology forms the foundation of effective national Defence. Modern warfare is a technological exercise as well.
Among the various laboratories under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), a unit in Pune has a significant role in goal-oriented research for strengthening the muscles of our armed forces: Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) – RDE(E), Alandi Road, Dighi, Pune – 411 015;
It has a grand vision of evolving itself as a world-class structural and mechanical systems engineering establishment through research, innovation, acquisition of state-of-the-art technology, collaborative engineering and continuous improvement. Its objectives include the development of two important systems: mobility and counter mobility systems for combat engineering and launching systems for all combat platforms and related technologies.
The RDE(E) had its beginning in Kolkata during World War II as an institution for quality control on stores in the Services. This was amalgamated with the Chief Inspectorate of Mechanisation at Chakala in Pakistan in 1946.
After Partition, this inspectorate moved to Ahmednagar. The need for a separate establishment for design and development of equipment for the Corps of Engineers was felt and RDE(E) was established in Pune in 1962.
When we trace the history of the establishment, the most significant fact that appeals to us is that it has successfully made substantial efforts in providing self-sufficiency in indigenous development of combat engineering equipment. It has acquired expertise in ground system engineering for all major weapon programmes.
Areas of work
The major areas of work are indicated below:
Design and analysis of large structures and mechanisms.
Synthesis, analysis, and design of drives and mechanisms.
Design of high-pressure hydraulic actuators, circuits and high-pressure compressors.
Mobile power sources, high-frequency tools, non-conventional power sources.
Thermal conditioning and mobile cooling system, pressure vessel technology, environmental and climatic test facility.
Use of light-weight structural material, polymer matrix composites for combat engineering equipment and weapon launcher, high-precision large ferrous and non-ferrous structures, metrological and testing facilities.
Computer-aided engineering design and development.
Hydraulic servo drives: controls and mechanism.
Electric servo drives: drives, controls, actuators and mechanisms.
Robotics: detection and control.
Mobile bridging systems: design and development.
Design and development of mine laying and detection systems.
Weapon launch system: platform-independent technology.
Large structures in laminated composite material.
High-pressure pneumatic system: design and development.
Although the fruits of research are basically for the use of armed forces, many of the technologies are transferred to the civilian sector for the benefit of our society in general. A few such items are shown below.
Bullet-proof podium and lectern.
Collective protection shelter.
Emergency light-weight bridges.
Fibre-reinforced plastic sleepers for railways.
Flexible rubberised water storage tanks.
Habitats and temporary structure.
High-frequency generators and tools.
Mobile power source.
Simulation chambers for training of air crew and divers.
Water cannon for riot control.
Water purification equipment.
Infrastructure for research.
The RDE(E) is endowed with rich infrastructure sufficient to meet the diverse needs of research in different fields of engineering and technology. Let us look at a cross-section of the equipment that offers fine facilities for research scholars in their innovative exercises.
3D coordinate measuring machine for measuring three dimensional parameters of gauges, fixtures and other engineering components with a resolution of 0.00l mm.
Climatic test facility for performance evaluation of engines, generating sets, electrical and electronic equipment under simulated conditions of required altitude, temperature and humidity for defence applications.
Component test bench for performance testing of hydraulic valves.
Electrical equipment test facility for performance evaluation of electrical equipment.
Environmental test facility: chambers for humidity, low temperature, rain, altitude test, mould growth, tropical exposure and fine mist and drip proof test apparatus, colour fastness to sunshine test machine and topple test platform.
Hose impulse and flex test rig for impulse and flex testing of hydraulic hoses and hose assemblies.
Materials testing machines (tension, compression, hardness, fatigue, etc.).
Optical measurement system — theodolite-based portable measurement system for precision measurements and inspection.
Interaction with other laboratories.
The establishment maintains continuous links with prominent academic and research institutions for studies in specific areas of their special competence. The Indian Institutes of Technology, the National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore, SPIC Foundation, Chennai, and Structural Engineering Research Centre, Chennai, are some of them.