1. Defence Industry is known to be a very unique and popular sector compared to other industries. What’s your view of the Defence market?
The defence market is a good market to be at since it is relatively stable, compared to other industries. However, for a small company it is somewhat hard to play, because of the long sales cycles as well as long project time scales. As a company who makes Mil-Std-1553, ARINC 429, CAN and other avionics serial protocols we actually play in various markets, including aerospace, industrial commercial and automotive. The fact that we are playing in the defence market gives us an advantage, because of the stability and long term of the defence market. Another advantage relays on our know how for product quality. The defence industry demands high quality and long lasting products. These capabilities enable us to play in other, less demanding markets, and provide very high quality at a reasonable price.
2. Can you please outline the basic structure of Sital Technology, and about its expertise for communication bus applications in the avionics, aerospace industries?
Sital's proficiency has been built up over 20+ years. The founders are veterans of the Israeli Air Force and are experts in Mil-Std 1553 and other bus applications. Working with F15 and F16 military avionics and numerous applications, Sital extended its world-class expertise to commercial and other military aircraft via myriad challenging and highly-successful projects whose results are installed and operating today on thousands of aircraft around the world. Expanding project by project, Sital took on-board additional skilled hardware and software engineers with expertise in bus applications and related disciplines. Along with the projects it was undertaking, Sital developed IP cores for FPGAs and other components and devices for state-of-the-art bus applications. When Mil-Std-1553 went into outer space with NASA, Sital extended its capabilities into aerospace applications. Today, space vehicles from North America and Europe are benefiting from the high-performance and robust hardware and software produced by the company. Working with leading automotive manufacturers, Sital has applied its avionics and aerospace expertise to the rapidly-growing automobile-bus market. CAN bus applications are making major advances based on Sital's extraordinary ability to apply its capabilities and products to the ever-increasing demands of automotive bus applications. In recent years Sital developed unique technologies and products such as detecting serial-bus faults during operation, an 8 channels PMC board which can be configured as Mil-Std-1553, H009 or PP-194 (WB-194) in any combination, a 8 single-redundant Mil-Std-1553 channels VME board, that can connect to a 300 meters cable, with special configurations like HUB, Repeater and a multi-redundant Bus Controller (up to 8x redundancy) and others.
3. What excites you most about Defence Sector and what were the most important achievements for Sital Technology in Defence Sector?
Our products are used in so many applications, from a very simple data recorder to the most sophisticated sensor for measuring the surface of the moon. The opportunity to work with customers like NASA, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, BAE, Thales and others on high visibility or top secret projects, is very exciting for us. We achieve an exciting goal every day. Our multi-standard PMC card with 8 channels which can be 1553, H009, WB194 or French Digibus without any hardware change, is surely a great technical achievement. Our systems are flying on aircrafts, controlling power plants and orbiting the earth and the moon on every single moment. I consider this as a great achievement.
4. What do you think of all the talk about India as a manufacturing hub for Defence Industry today?
Being one of the largest users of defence products, India offers many advantages like talented manpower who gained a lot of experience in developing and manufacturing defence and aerospace products. This may be a win-win situation for vendors outside of India, who will gain good quality manufacturing, at lower cost and an opportunity to market their products into India. However, I believe that manufacturing in India, or in any other off-shore location, makes sense mainly for high volume or low margins products. Therefore for small vendors like Sital it may be somewhat difficult,especially, since there is still a lot of bureaucracy that is involved. For example – just to receive a visa to enter India requires sending my passport to the Indian embassy for at least two or three weeks every time. And then the provided visa is valid only for 6 month or so. I believe that once such issues are resolved India could become a great source for the defence industry as a very reliable and high quality manufacturing hub.
5. What is the place of innovation in a company as large as Sital Technology? Is innovation a top-down or bottom-up process? What were the areas focused while designing the communication bus applications? What was the target market like?
Innovation is a key factor for Sital’s success. All our products and technologies started as an idea in someone’s head and later became a successful product. Sital offers patented technologies to the market in the fields of bus testing, bus reliability, multi-protocol and multi-channel cards. We are now opened to additional markets thanks to innovative ideas we had. For example – in 2009 we filed for a patent in the area of detecting wire faults during standard operation of the system. This became a product that is now used in aerospace and automotive markets for wires fault detection during flight, manufacturing of vehicles and maintenance of aircrafts. This is a good example for an idea of one engineer, which was embraced by the management and is now a key factor for our future success. We started the design of the Mil-Std-1553 Intellectual Property (IP) core for FPGA as a response to customer’s demand for an alternative to the DDC components, which had very minor flexibility and became very expensive. Very quickly we noticed that there is a strong demand for such IP cores, not only because of the lower costs, but mainly because of the flexibility that it offers. Users can now design a single board for any purpose or protocol, without having to re-design the board for additional channels or different interfaces. The flexibility which the programmable components offer is tremendous. A customer can now make a single board for any configuration – Mil-Std-1553, WB-194, H009 or French DigiBus. Just change the file you load into the programmable component (FPGA) and you are done. The use of IPs also offers flexibility in operations. No need for stocking, shipping or making commitments for obsolescence of components. Our IP is written in VHDL, so that it can be compiled to any FPGA, now and in the future. So there are no issues of obsolescence.
6. Sital Technology has grown fast across the globe in over the last few years. How do you see things going forward in Asian region? What else is driving Sital Technology’s growth?
Our main markets in Asia are India and South Korea. Our main growth in the past year or two is actually spread between the US, India, Israel and Europe. Our growth is driven by various factors: - More use of FPGAs and Intellectual Property for Mil-Std-1553 around the world. - Additional products which we introduced in the past two or three years, like our PC104, PMC and Compact PCI cards, additional protocols which we support, like WB194, H009, DigiBus, CAN, ARINC 429 and others. - Introduction of our new technology for detecting wire faults has opened a whole new sector for us. - We hired very talented and highly skilled engineers, who are totally committed to innovation, high quality and team work. We have grown into a new market for us – Automotive, where we expect a tremendous growth in the next few years. We are also involved in several space projects in Israel, US and Europe. So the bottom line is that we expand our capabilities, products, technologies and markets.
7. Everyone talks about effective customer service, ensuring Customer Delight. How do you ensure this at Sital Technology?
First – we consider our customers as partners of Sital. As such, we are fully committed to their success. Therefore I believe that customers view us almost as part of their team. Sital’s Customer Service department is very dedicated to all our customers no matter how big or small. Customer satisfaction and excellence of Customer Service are part of our motto in all our interactions with our customers. Thanks to that we take pride in our long lasting relationships with most of our customers.
8. How can you create product differentiation by using IT? What makes you so different from your competitors in terms of developing these products?
Our differentiation is not driven by using IT.but by innovative and high quality products and technologies, talented engineers and excellent service and support. We provide solutions which most other vendors do not. For example – solutions for protocols that are not commonly used, like H009, WB-194, DigiBus, etc.. We provide flexibility which cannot be achieved from other vendors. We provide support that is very effective and help our customers reach their targets. We provide technologies which are unique and serve as solutions to real problems our customers face. One key differentiator is the fact that we play in various markets at the same time. We learn from each market and implement this knowledge in our products.
9. What do you see as the single biggest challenge for the Defence Industry in 2013? What are some of the newer, exciting technologies or products that Sital Technology is working on?
I think that the main challenge is to maintain the development budgets for existing and new projects. The threat on countries is not getting smaller when the economy is on crises, on the contrary. Therefore the investment on defence must be at least kept, or even grow. Sital Technology is currently working on various technologies and products. Some of them are related to the automotive market and some for defence. The knowhow we gain by working with these various market sectors enables us to implement the best of both into our products. We will release some of these new products in the next few months.
10. Defence-industries are a connecting point for buyers and suppliers across the global defence industry. Used daily as means of creating partnerships and as a point of reference by professionals within the defence industry, this comprehensive resource supplies the latest news releases, detailed information on industry projects, event information and careful segregation of products and services. What do you think about our website which promotes & brands defence industry today on such a wide scale?
I think such a website is essential for the entire defence professional. It is an appreciated arena that promotes partnerships and ideas exchange. I am totally in favor of such initiatives.