Home COVER FILE Engin AYKOL, General Manager of Nurol Makina: “We are working hard to become a technology company, going beyond an armoured vehicle producer.”

Engin AYKOL, General Manager of Nurol Makina: “We are working hard to become a technology company, going beyond an armoured vehicle producer.”

by Can Kılınç

Nurol Makina has found immense success both in Türkiye and abroad in the last 10 years, with the vehicles it developed, EJDER YALÇIN being the most prominent offering. The company has risen to a leading land platform manufacturer with its successes. Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina, has led the team that achieved so much in the last 10 years. Aykol has evaluated the past and shared the future aims of the company for MSI TDR readers.

MSI TDR: Mr. Aykol, you celebrated your 10th year at your post as the General Manager of Nurol Makina on 1 June. We want to congratulate you on this important anniversary, and we wish to begin our interview with a general overview of these 10 years. What were your goals when you commenced your duties in 2012, and how many of these goals have you achieved?

Engin AYKOL: First of all, I would like to thank you. As you have mentioned, I’ve been serving as the General Manager of Nurol Makina for over 10 years. The successes we have achieved and the contributions we have provided to the defence industry as Nurol Makina so far are the results of our efforts to create added value together with all our stakeholders, from our users to our suppliers. As the Nurol Makina family, we are working tirelessly to create lots of added value so we can serve better. We have achieved so much in the last 10 years. Currently, our products serve across the globe, from South America to Europe, Africa to the Persian Gulf, and Asia to the Far East. We are sparing no effort to ensure the sustainability of our development in today’s business world, where complexity and uncertainty are ever-increasing.

Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina

MSI TDR: What would you like to highlight on the development of Nurol Makina in these 10 years? What did Nurol Makina change in this process, and what did it achieve?

Engin AYKOL: We have reached many milestones in this process. We have made plenty of investments to enhance our production infrastructure further and for digitalisation efforts. We started using various technological systems that have yet to be used by companies that produce similar products. Cutting-edge devices like 5-axis laser cutters and 7-axis robotic welders are among them. In addition, we also invested heavily in various engineering software and the information technology field as a whole. As such, we can design and develop our products with more efficient processes. We also started offering new products to our users as a result of these investments.

We also made many upgrades for the personal development of our employees and many changes to our organisation, and we continue to do so. Product lifecycle management is essential for us. We have set up a particular facility for our Product Support Department to perform our product support activities more efficiently.

The global successes of Nurol Makina can be seen by observing its clients in different regions. Nurol Makina became a brand chosen by many security forces. Hungary, for example, is a NATO and EU member country. They are procuring 4×4 armoured vehicles that will use in network-centric future battlefields from Nurol Makina with a long-term programme as a part of “Zrínyi 2026” armed forces and defence industry modernisation project. This clearly shows how competitive Nurol Makina has become in the international arena.

Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina (second from left), Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Minister of Defence of Hungary (third from left), Viktor Mátis, Ambasaddor of Hungary to Ankara (first from right), Lieutenant General Zsolt Sándor, Deputy Commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces (first from left) and Gürol Çarmıklı, Member pf the Board at Nurol Holding (second from right)

EJDER YALÇIN Makes a Difference with NVGA and Mission Systems

MSI TDR: We think EJDER YALÇIN needs particular emphasis in this process. What kind of developments did the platform see since its first day? Can you share some general information on the latest version of EJDER YALÇIN?

Engin AYKOL: EJDER YALÇIN completed its design process in 2014 and entered service with Police Special Operations (Polis Özel Harekât / PÖH). As such, we were able to develop second and third generations of EJDER YALÇIN thanks to the feedback we received from the domestic user who used our vehicle for the first time. In addition, our vehicles serve in Gendarmerie Special Operations (Jandarma Özel Harekât / JÖH) and Turkish Air Force Command.

As time passed, our vehicle started to draw the attention of competent authorities. As you may know, we exported our first EJDER YALÇIN to Africa in 2017. This was followed by countries worldwide, and now our vehicle started to serve many countries, from Africa to Central Asia, from the Persian Gulf to Europe and finally, the Far East.

EJDER YALÇIN utilises NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture (NGVA), and as such, its users can integrate diverse subsystems into the vehicle quickly and easily. Currently, EJDER YALÇIN can be equipped with many different subsystems and weapon systems as the user needs. The integration of these systems, including a variety of electronic systems and 120 mm mortar, is done by us.

Vice Admiral Rommel Anthony Santo Domingo Reyes, The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina

MSI TDR: What do you think about the current status of Nurol Makina in both internal and international markets?

Engin AYKOL: The global successes of Nurol Makina can be seen by observing its clients in different regions. Nurol Makina became a brand chosen by many security forces. Hungary, for example, is a NATO and EU member country. They are procuring 4×4 armoured vehicles that will use in network-centric future battlefields from Nurol Makina with a long-term programme as a part of “Zrínyi 2026” armed forces and defence industry modernisation project. This clearly shows how competitive Nurol Makina has become in the international arena.

European countries behave very selectively in this kind of procurement processes. Our EJDER YALÇIN and NMS 4×4 vehicles were subject to intense tests and passed them with flying colours before they were chosen.

In general, I can say what sets us apart is that our products are indigenous designs, our creative engineering capabilities, the fact that we can deliver our products to many users around the world with differing needs, our vehicles have many configurations on one platform to meet user demands, and last but not least Nurol Holding’s support during all these processes.

Currently, we have signed multiple contracts with almost all of our users. 10 countries around the world is using our EJDER YALÇIN right now. Our NMS 4×4 vehicle drew attention from all over the world the day after its design was completed and we signed contracts with 4 countries for this vehicle. Some of our other vehicles, like ILGAZ II and TOMA serve in many foreign countries as well.

NMS 4×4 has different configurations, like an armoured fighting vehicle (up) and twin cabin pick-up (down).

Industrial Property Rights: Indicator of Know-How

MSI TDR: Could you make some numerical comparisons between Nurol Makina in 2012 and Nurol Makina in 2022?

Engin AYKOL: Ten years ago, we set out to be a leading defence industry company as our vision, and today we made this vision a reality. Nurol Makina is led by values like “following cutting-edge technology relevant to the platforms the company indigenously develops” and “funnelling new technologies and applications to R&D efforts”.

An indicator of the emphasis on R&D and intellectual capital, “Industrial Property Rights Management” is being run under Nurol Makina’s “R&D Department”. Nurol Makina’s industrial rights portfolio ranked 26th on the “2021 Top 50 List” in the Number of National Patents category, with the data for this list being compiled from the top 500 exporters of Türkiye and companies with R&D centres.

Nurol Makina is setting its Industrial Rights Strategy correctly and increasing the effectiveness of its portfolio, maturing its processes on both its technical and legal capabilities. Thus, the company aims to create a cost-effective portfolio with solid protection. 46 headings are in the company’s patent portfolio. 16 of them have already received patents or finished the documentation process.

As for facilities, Nurol Makina has two different campuses, with a total of 70,000 square metres of open space and 34,000 square metres of enclosed space. Nurol Makina facilities also include a vehicle testing track that ensures tests like trench and obstacle crossing, side slope and regular gradient climbing, fording and rough terrain crossings can be performed.

Nurol Makina has the technological infrastructure to achieve high production volumes, like 5-axis laser cutters and 7-axis robotic welding machines for processing armour steel, eccentric hydraulic presses, laser scanning measurement systems, and painting units.

Nurol Makina invested in sub-component welding robots, rotators, perforated flexible fixturing, and spectrometers in line with its continuous improvement and innovation principles.

Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger and Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina

MSI TDR: When you look at the last 10 years, what were your most significant challenges? How did you overcome them?

Engin AYKOL: We believe in our products and tirelessly work every day for our country’s prestige. However, due to the nature of business, we may sometimes encounter challenges we did not ask for, or factors external to the sector can affect us negatively. One of the most significant examples of these setbacks is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic created challenges for the management of our processes. However, we were able to quickly adapt our operations to the pandemic conditions and overcome these challenges. We also keep in touch with our users in these challenging times. We meet the needs of our users successfully. I also see that we have established a resilient supply chain and worked in coordination with our suppliers.

One of our goals has been setting up production facilities in various countries, and we took a step towards this goal with Nurol Makina Hungary. We plan to establish similar examples in other countries as well. We want to realise projects like this with other European countries and expand our presence in the European market. As you may know, the European market is a challenging one. It is a market with only the best of the best establishing a presence and a market with intense competition. However, as Nurol Makina, we have shown we can penetrate this market.

EJDER YALÇIN is also chosen for UN missions.

Exports are Always a Focus

MSI TDR: Nurol Makina has been transformed from a company focusing on domestic projects to a company focusing on external ones in the past 10 years. What fuelled this transformation, and how did it happen?

Engin AYKOL: Actually, as Nurol Makina, we had exported to various countries in the past. I can give the export project to Georgia in the 1990s as an example or our TOMA vehicles finding buyers in many countries as another one.

In the ten years I have led the company, our priorities have been meeting the needs of Turkish security forces and external markets. EJDER YALÇIN’s field success after entering service strengthened us to meet external demands for which we always set our sights. This process transformed Nurol Makina into an export-oriented company with its products and services. Sales of our EJDER YALÇIN platform increased as well, both in Türkiye and abroad.

Currently, we have signed multiple contracts with almost all of our users. 10 countries around the world is using our EJDER YALÇIN right now. Our NMS 4×4 vehicle drew attention from all over the world the day after its design was completed and we signed contracts with 4 countries for this vehicle. Some of our other vehicles, like ILGAZ II and TOMA serve in many foreign countries as well.

Nurol Makina made significant investments in developing its production infrastructure.

MSI TDR: The presence of Nurol Makina abroad has started to transform with company formations like Nurol Makina Hungary. Can you share the outlook of your company on cooperation with allied and friendly countries?

Engin AYKOL: One of our goals has been setting up production facilities in various countries, and we took a step towards this goal with Nurol Makina Hungary. We plan to establish similar examples in other countries as well. We want to realise projects like this with other European countries and expand our presence in the European market. As you may know, the European market is a challenging one. It is a market with only the best of the best establishing a presence and a market with intense competition. However, as Nurol Makina, we have shown we can penetrate this market. I want to add that we will be making a strong showing in the Far Eastern market, where a similar intense competition exists.

EJDER TOMA is among the export success stories for Nurol Makina.

Relationships with Users Are the Key to Sustainability

MSI TDR: What kind of groundwork have your successes in the last 10 years laid for your future sustainability?

Engin AYKOL: Being sustainable is directly affected by what kind of relationships you have with your users. Undoubtedly, successfully continuing the integrated logistics support for our vehicles will create new opportunities for us in the future. We are already seeing examples of this. We are aware that another critical factor for sustainability is ensuring employee satisfaction. As such, we provide every means to ensure our employees can accomplish their tasks successfully.

MSI TDR: In the context of our last question, what kind of future does Nurol Makina have?

Engin AYKOL: I can say both our revenue and exports will drastically rise, with vehicle upgrades, new product development, and increased cooperation with sector companies, in line with the “5-year Strategic Plan” we have established. We are working hard to become a technology company, going beyond an armoured vehicle producer. We will continue to offer solutions that make a difference with our new projects, from indigenous design processes to after-sales support, as we always have done, and to show that we are a company that can compete internationally.

ILGAZ II enjoyed export successes as well.

MSI TDR: How will this 10-year journey get reflected at your IDEF 2023 booth?

Engin AYKOL: We always have presented various versions of our current line-up in previous IDEF events. IDEF 2023 will be the stage we will be showing some new works. We will see what the future holds for us together.

We would like to thank Engin Aykol, General Manager of Nurol Makina, for taking the time to answer our questions and providing us with such valuable information.

EJDER YALÇIN can be equipped with weapon systems like a mortar (up) and ATGMs (down).
Nurol Makina has the infrastructure to achieve significant production runs.

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