e at Godrej manufacture a wide range of products – from locks to liquid fuel propulsion rocket engines. Our unique contribution in the field of successful technology absorption for import substitution is well known and widely acknowledged worldwide.
A hydroclave is a complex engineering system essentially used for curing components fabricated from advanced composites under conditions of high pressure and temperature. During the entire curing cycle, high pressure and temperature are not only to be maintained but are also to be monitored closely for obtaining the required characteristics in the components being cured. The emitting resin vapors are sucked out of the hydroclave by a vacuum system monitored and controlled by an advanced electronic system. To withstand the high pressures and temperatures characteristic of this complex system called a hydroclave, several complex subsystems, processes and components are required to be developed. These are lip type pressure sealing systems, coatings of corrosion resistant thermal paint, flexible stainless steel, vacuum hoses, etc. Developing these complex engineering sub systems is indeed an arduous task.
A few years ago, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram (VSSC) had asked Godrej to undertake the revamp of their then two-decades old, two meter diameter hydroclave of foreign origin. We at Godrej accepted this challenge and two of our divisions, Process Equipment Divison (PED) and Electrical & Electronic Services (E&ES) worked cohesively with a common sense of purpose to successfully complete the revamp. One of the major reasons we accepted the revamp challenge was to enhance our capabilities to handle the complex engineering that goes into the making of a robust, reliable hydroclave. We also put into practice teamwork, project management and the concept of “shared vision”.
To cater to the needs of our nation’s ambitious space program, ISRO was working on plans to enhance the capacity of their hydroclaving operations. Bids for the project were invited globally and many firms, both Indian and foreign had submitted their offers. A bid jointly submitted by Godrej PED and E&ES was accepted by ISRO and we were awarded the contract. ISRO was impressed by our learning and insight into the finer aspects of hydroclaves.
Projecting ourselves as capable enough to indigenously develop ISRO’s hydroclaving capacity was indeed a bold step forward and no one in India had attempted to undertake such a multi-disciplinary project involving several not-fully-known technologies.
From the word ‘GO’, we decided to work closely with the team from ISRO. The integration of various sub systems, including instrumentation and control testing of process parameters in manual, semi-automatic and automatic mode of operation and proving of liner curing were undertaken and completed with great precision. All this was achieved within a record time of 14 months.
Complete indigenisation of hydroclave technology is a major landmark in the pursuit of indigenising of advanced technologies for which India is usually dependant on countries abroad. It is for the first time that we built a full plant on a lump sum turnkey basis. Further, when VSSC required some reputed Indian firm who could maintain and operate the entire hydroclaving plant, our E&ES division once again rose to the challenge of operating and maintaining the entire plant.
The support and guidance received by the Godrej team at site from ISRO officials has been invaluable. The teams at site had to work untiringly with a great deal of dedication to successfully realize the total system in a record time.
This unprecedented feat of engineering and project management has been achieved as a result of the encouragement and support received from Mr. Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO and Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman and MD, G & B Mfg. Co. Ltd.
Contributed by Mr. N.P. Mani,