Indra, one of the leading global technology and consulting companies, has strengthened its position in the radar manufacturing field with the opening of a one-of-a-kind factory in Spain where equipment for both civil and military use will be produced.
“The new Indra radar production facility in San Fernando de Henares represents a clear commitment of the company for the design and production of such systems, in which Indra is one of the global leaders, mostly thanks to the 3D technology for civil as well as military use,” says Jorge Estévez, director of Transportation and Defence Operation at Indra. It comes as no surprise that Indra has been awarded all of the 3D radar tenders by NATO since 2005, and has supplied 40 units in different configurations world-wide: long-range, fixed or non-fixed, medium-range, high-mobility tactical configuration and naval radars. The order book is extensive. Indra radars have the most advanced digital signal processing technologies (Digital Beam Forming) and add improvements to enhance their operational flexibility and reliability throughout their life cycle.
Indra has concentrated the manufacturing of all its radar systems on a single 7000-square -meter factory. Nearly 200 professionals, many of them with a level of experience that is hard to find in Europe, are working together to cover the entire radar manufacturing cycle, from the production of the electronic cards to the actual assembly. Most of these next-generation radars will be exported to countries all over the world.
Jorge Estévez emphasizes the competitiveness and innovation that characterizes the factory: “The capacity of this factory will allow us to absorb the sales growth that we anticipate for the coming years in the domestic and international markets. This factory integrates from the manufacturing processes of highly complex electronic boards to the final tests, and has allowed us to make substantial improvements in the production processes, embodying lean manufacturing and automation elements.”
Military technology that transfers to the civil arena
No factory in Spain - and very few in Europe - can match the diversity of radars with proprietary technology that the San Fernando factory can boast of. The catalogue includes fixed, tactical and mobile radars and also airborne and naval radars, radars for drone detection and components for space exploration. Moreover, innovation projects on Lanza radars are being developed in this new factory, together with Torrejón.
The company started manufacturing radars in the 80’s. Today, Indra is regarded as a world-class supplier, thanks to its proprietary production of cutting-edge radars. The growth outlook in this sector is very positive.
The company is present in five continents thanks to the technological superiority of radars such as the MSSR for air traffic control and the new developments, such as those used in frigates. Radars and radio aids are exported to more than 60 countries: from the United Kingdom to Australia, through Sweden, Denmark, Uruguay, Ecuador, India, Thailand, Azerbaijan and Oman, among others.
Clients in this market are both civil as well as military, which has enabled technology transfer from the former to the latter. Such is the case of the emblematic Lanza 3D radar which, although originally created for military use, is now very popular in the civil field and will soon make a significant technological leap with the new generation of LTR-25 tactical radar for NATO and other European customers. In the civil sector, the main mission of most radar systems is to optimally manage air traffic and to ensure the safety of passengers travelling by air.
One of the most sophisticated Indra radars is designed for spatial surveillance and has its origin in military technology. Another civil application of equipment produced in San Fernando is closely linked to the sustainability and the protection of the environment: the detection of oil spills in hydrocarbon extraction and handling environments using low-range radars.
Resolute commitment to innovation and sustainable production
According to the latest EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard ranking, which has just been published by the European Commission, Indra is one of the Spanish companies and one of the companies of its sector in Europe that invests the most in research and development, with €210 million and a 6.8% of sales invested in 2018 alone. In the last six years, Indra has invested over €1.1 billion in R&D.
Besides allocating important sums to R&D, Indra has a global innovation model that aims for excellence and continuous improvement in this field. This model has recently renewed the certifications for its R&D management to the Spanish quality standards: “UNE 166002: RDI Management”, and European standards: “CEN/TS 16555-1: Innovation Management System”, via Aenor.
These certifications prove that Indra continues working to ensure optimal innovation management that contributes to value creation, so that its products and services aim to meet the new needs of customers as well as of society. They also entail an element that adds value and differentiates them from the competition.
The new factory is an integral part of the company's digital and cultural transformation. The professionals of the new San Fernando factory operate according to the “lean manufacturing” philosophy, which not only aims for excellence thanks to the removal of processes that do not add value, but also minimizes waste, which means a reduction in the use of raw materials and other materials. The aim: to minimize the environmental impact and to ensure a sustainable production of radar systems.
In 2019, the Spanish Government appointed Indra as the national industrial coordinator of the European FCAS (Future Combat Air System) Defence program, the largest joint European defence.
FCAS is a critical program for Spain with regard to its sovereignty and technological and industrial development and the creation of highly-skilled employment.
Fernando Abril-Martorell, Indra’s Chairman, with part of the radar factory team