Nurol Makina was founded in 1976 to provide turnkey industrial services. After establishing the Presidency of the Defence Industry (SSB) in Turkey, Nurol Makina started its activities in the defence industry. The company aims to expand its business in both domestic and foreign markets. ESD had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Engin Akyol, CEO of Nurol Makina.
ESD: Nurol Makina is a manufacturer of armoured vehicles, with the EJDER YALCIN 4×4 and NMS 4×4 models being particularly noteworthy. What are the differences between the two models and between them and their competitors?
Akyol: Both the EJDER YALCIN 4×4 and the NMS 4×4 vehicles differ significantly from the competition and offer users unique advantages. The main difference is that they are both multi-purpose vehicles and offer an excellent combination of protection and mobility in a sustainable way due to their high reliability and low cost. Allow me to clarify this statement.
As multi-purpose vehicles they can be used for various missions such as combat, air defence, command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, forward observation, personnel transport, EOD, medicine, etc. The use of a single vehicle for such a large number of missions significantly reduces maintenance costs for users. Please note that these two vehicles are proprietary Nurol Makina designs and we have all the design, development and production expertise to adapt vehicles with shorter lead times and development costs to the individual needs of users.
Their proven status underlines the high reliability of these vehicles in their segments. In the event of a conflict, even a slightly improved detail in the ergonomics, reliability or functionality of the vehicle can save your life. In designing these vehicles, we have taken into account the experience of the armed forces and security forces in various combat zones. EJDER YALCIN 4×4 was put into service in 2014 based on feedback from users, we have continuously improved the vehicle. The current version of EJDER YALCIN is actually called Block IV. And NMS 4×4, a lighter and more agile version of EJDER YALCIN, is also being developed taking into account all the design, development and field experience of EJDER YALCIN.
Let me also clarify what I mean by a better combination of protection and mobility. EJDER YALCIN offers the highest mine, IED and ballistic protection achievable in this segment, i.e. a level of protection almost like a MRAP vehicle. There are some other armoured vehicles that offer a high level of protection like MRAPs, but they are not as good in terms of mobility characteristics and are mostly used as troop transporters. In contrast, EJDER YALCIN has extremely good off-road performance. EJDER YALCIN has been tested in 11 countries under very different and demanding environmental and geographical conditions and has achieved excellent results in all these tests. This makes EJDER YALCIN a proven all-weather all-terrain vehicle.
ESD: The NMS 4×4 strikes an intelligent balance between protection and range through additional armouring. Depending on the application, ballistic security levels from 1 to 4 can be achieved. So how will you handle this tension between protection and weight in the future?
Akyol: In fact, the NMS 4×4 brings a new level of mobility and protection. As you mentioned earlier, it is possible to balance mobility and protection. We manage this trade-off by applying a scalable armament system to NMS that gives users the flexibility to adapt the ballistic protection level to the threat at different times and occasions. Users do not need to wear additional armour plates at all times to protect them from kinetic attacks during a conflict. It is only when the vehicle is on a mission with a risk of conflict that additional armour plates can be mounted on the vehicle in accordance with the threat level. Compared to EJDER YALCIN, NMS is a lighter vehicle and offers even higher speeds and agile on- and off-road performance.
ESD: At our last meeting in 2017, Nurol Makina had a strategic plan for sustainable growth from 2018 to 2022. One of the goals was to invest more in technology than in production, but today you are producing more than before. Production Lifecycle Management was also on your agenda. How do you deal with the complex value chain and suppliers?
Akyol: I prepared the first strategic plan for 2012 right after I started at Nurol Makina and we have constantly revised it to reflect the changing global and industrial dynamics. As you have already indicated, our strategy is strongly based on investing in technology, not only in our products and services, but also in our building infrastructure. Although our production rates are significantly higher than a few years ago, there is no change in this policy. The increase in the production rate is an inevitable result of the increased expectations of customers. However, I must stress that every year we outsource more and more by building long-term strategic suppliers. We focus on design, development, testing and assembly. For manufacturing, we rely mainly on our suppliers. In Turkey there are competitive and efficient suppliers who meet our requirements. In addition, we also cooperate with local manufacturers in our customer countries. Currently we are even working on setting up an assembly and testing facility in a European country where we will use manufacturers from this country and some neighbouring countries.
Furthermore, we have been constantly investing in new technologies like new ERP and PLM software as well as in hardware to increase automation like robotic welding machines, highly precise CNC controlled laser cutting machines.
In this highly competitive and connected business environment, efficiently managing an international supply chain requires special attention indeed. Thus, we have a well-organised multi-disciplinary supply chain management team, composed of highly experienced and talented staff.
ESD: Nurol Makina has set itself the target of exporting US$100M each year as of 2023, the year in which the Republic of Turkey celebrates its centenary. Given the current order backlog, can we expect you to reach your 2023 targets ahead of time? What is the ratio of export strength to domestic turnover? Are there any new markets you would like to enter?
Akyol: Years ago we set ourselves an export target of 100 million dollars, and I am proud that we reached this level a few years earlier. Export accounts for most of our sales, which is a prerequisite for corporate sustainability. And I can tell you it keeps our organization fit. That is, to meet the expectations of different customers with different threats, geographic conditions, and military security infrastructure, we need to conduct agile business development activities with users who are strongly supported by organisational functions back in our facility.
We are definitely targeting new markets, but unfortunately I can’t name them. However, I can tell you that these potential countries are not only in conflict zones, although we offer battle-proven, highly protected vehicles. You can imagine our vehicles as a 30-year insurance policy, just as we need insurance because we have accidents every day. We can have an accident once in a few years, but it is nice to know that we have an insurance policy at hand. In such a fast and chaotic changing world, even countries with less risk-related conflicts are now interested in our vehicles for future uncertainties. As you know, these are not small investments and lead times are relatively long, so you need to plan for acquisitions with foresight.
ESD: Which current trends will you take into account in the future development of military vehicles?
Akyol: First of all, I would like to say that I am proud that we have saved so many lives of armed and security forces so far. That is the most valuable part of our business and indeed defines our mission. However, there is no saturation point in offering best solution in terms of protection, as new threats and technologies evolve and emerge. Therefore, we continue investing in increasing protection features of our vehicles. This involves reliability improvements as well as including new technologies to our vehicles like active protection systems. Increasing vehicle agility is another crucial issue against evolving threats. We work with best in class suppliers in the world for engine, transmission and axles, and making extensive development and improvement studies with them. Our passion as Nurol Makina is to offer highly reliable armoured vehicles with unmatched features. It is obvious that integrated warfare will dominate battle field thus all platforms will be communicating with each other at very high rates. Thus one of our focuses is the interoperability with various platforms, where again we work with global OEMs for various payloads and platforms. Since we have already all digital infrastructure in our vehicles, this interoperability studies brings no big vehicle related development issues. For example, we have demonstrated a remote-controlled version of our vehicle in 2016, where we can remotely control not only the vehicle but also the payload, such as a robotic arm or remote weapon stations. We will continue in investing improvements in interoperability and high valued payload integration activities.
This interview was conducted by Korhan Özkilinc.