Home COVER FILE Yücel ATALAY, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkin Defence Engineering: “We are working in three new fields; to achieve the undoable, to create the knowledge and to set the rules.”

Yücel ATALAY, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkin Defence Engineering: “We are working in three new fields; to achieve the undoable, to create the knowledge and to set the rules.”

by Şafak Kaan Oğraş

Ümit BAYRAKTAR / ubayraktar@savunmahaber.com

Berkin Defence Engineering, one of the agile actors in the sector, is preparing to advance into 2023 with its new installations, new products and new fields of activities. Yücel Atalay, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkin Defence Engineering has explained all these developments and the aims guiding said developments for MSI TDR readers.

MSI TDR: Mr. Atalay, Berkin Defence Engineering has commenced another transformation with the latest developments. Could you share the details for us?

Yücel ATALAY: As Berkin Defence Engineering, we have two mottos: “Achieving the undoable” and “The one creates the knowledge, sets the rules” and we have been working with these viewpoints since the beginning, reaching today.

Berkin Defence Engineering’s ship data distribution system solutions are also used in the vessels exported by Turkish shipyards.

As you have mentioned, we transformed our company every few years since the founding of our corporation. We established Berkin Defence Engineering in 2014 to provide services in systems engineering and software for advanced electronics. As the time passed, in line with our first motto, we started determining fields and niches that were not covered by other companies or solutions. These efforts accelerated even further as our company was incorporated in 2018. In line with our second motto, we started developing new technologies and acquiring patents for these. We developed a set of products in this process as a part of various projects and restructured to include production in our efforts as well.

We started a new phase last year as well. We continued developing in 2021 as pandemic raged across continents. We opened new R&D installations while taking on new projects. Today, as Berkin Defence Engineering, we are working in three new fields, to achieve the undoable, to create the knowledge and to set the rules. We aim to move to our new installation completely by 2023, bringing together all our departments like R&D, engineering, and serial production.

Berkin Defence Engineering’s interface unit for ship data distribution systems.

MSI TDR: What will be these new fields?

Yücel ATALAY: Optics, image processing and AI, and RF. As they are still included in our trade secrets, we will not be sharing any information on the new products we are developing in these areas before we launch them. However, I can proudly state these new products will be firsts in Türkiye.

2023 Is the Goal for the New Installation

MSI TDR: What can you share regarding your new installation?

Yücel ATALAY: Currently we are working on determining the location of the new installation. Our first choice will be building it in Ankara. We plan to commence construction sometime in the second half of this year and have it active in the next year.

We are aiming for an enclosed space of at least 3,000 square meters. This will allow 100-150 people to work there. We predict one third of these employees will be blue collar workers, while the rest will be white collar.

Berkin Defence Engineering’s data distribution systems also include solutions with smaller sizes.

MSI TDR: How large is the manpower of Berkin Defence Engineering? In the previous interviews we have had, you mentioned you were meeting your human resources demands from freshly graduated engineers by mentoring them. Do you use the same framework to enlarge your staff?

Yücel ATALAY: Currently we are about 50 people. We are strengthening our ranks in line with our new fields of activity. Of course, the most crucial matter is human resources. As you have mentioned, we developed young brains to become the company we are today. On the other hand, as we grow and determine our corporate structure, we need more experienced people as well. We are still mentoring our young colleagues, but we are now in a position to require experienced people. As with other companies in the sector, sometimes we encounter difficulties in finding experienced people.

We are determining our business development strategies or the products we will develop through R&D. We do not wait for a demand from anyone, we do what we think is best. Until our solution named “Indicator Compatible with Night Vision Goggles” we did not receive any support from other organisations either, developing all our products with our own resources. We received TÜBİTAK support for this product, a first for our company.

MSI TDR: With all you have mentioned in mind, what kind of corporate developments did Berkin Defence Engineering experience in the past few years?

Yücel ATALAY: As our staff grows, as our works expand and diversify, we are making some changes to our organisational framework. For example, we expanded our quality assurance, purchasing and accounting departments recently. As our solutions increase, we felt the need to have a business development department and we established it. Likewise, as our project numbers increased, we needed a project coordination department.

We aim to complete AS9100 quality process to achieve a certain level in our corporate structure.

In addition, we are developing our own ERP software. We aim to combine and link together all our corporate data to further advance our organizational memory management. For example, one of the subcomponents of a product we have been providing for years will have a full history, its procurement receipts, acceptance documentation, evaluation documentation from relevant subcontractor, the processes done to it, and much more will be linked together under configuration management.

We have seen a quick growth in both our revenue and staff size ever since we were founded. We almost doubled ourselves every year. We are maturing as a company, and we will be keeping this growth in a manageable level for our corporate structure.

Experience and Knowledge Makes a Difference

MSI TDR: You have summarised your transformation and corporate developments, along with the works behind these, with your mottos. How does Berkin Defence Engineering achieve the undoable, with its projects and products?

Yücel ATALAY: We have experience and knowledge supporting us. If I may speak a little bit about myself, as a former member of Turkish Naval Forces Command, I was a user for older versions of the systems we are developing for vessels. My experience also included maintenance, repair, and tactical usage of these systems. Then I became a designer for MİLGEM project, taking on managerial duties in various headquarters missions after. With a title of Chief Engineer, I ran modernisation, repair, and maintenance activities. As such, I have personally taken part in all life cycle operations of systems, like procurement, integration, usage, and maintenance. With this experience I have, I can see quite clearly what is needed and what is lacking. Our employees, with their varying levels of experience and knowledge, also bring fresh ideas.

After determining what is needed and what is lacking, we are establishing our projects to produce results with our technical knowledge and experience. We also take some risks, showing our adventurer spirit. This results in our renowned products.  

Berkin Defence Engineering’s indicator solution compatible with night vision devices.

MSI TDR: With what you have mentioned so far, it can be seen that you start product development without a procurement project. Could you explain how you look at business development?

Yücel ATALAY: We are determining our business development strategies or the products we will develop through R&D. We do not wait for a demand from anyone, we do what we think is best. Until our solution named “Indicator Compatible with Night Vision Goggles” we did not receive any support from other organisations either, developing all our products with our own resources. We received TÜBİTAK support for this product, a first for our company.

Of course, we are working on projects that will pay off in the end, projects that will provide added value. We do not have the luxury to throw away investments; however, all our decisions paid off until now.

Our Products Are the Best Until We Can Do Better

MSI TDR: What are the defining features of your products, other than being the first to cover a niche?

Yücel ATALAY: Many of the products we are working on have dominant design principles over the years. For example, almost all automobiles have four wheels, but various car manufacturers have their own solutions and technologies. Likewise, our products have been shaped with dominant designs in their field while implementing our indigenous technologies. I can give ship data distribution systems as an example. These have the same working principles for more than 60 years. Our solution uses these principles, while incorporating our patented technologies, giving it advantages compared to its peers. For example, you can connect new units without undergoing hardware changes.

Many of our products are used in the field, both in Türkiye and abroad. We have products that have been in use 24/7, 365 days a year, for 3 years without encountering any issues. We are designing our products by forecasting potential problems that might occur through the life cycle of the product utilising our experience and as such, we are providing highly reliable products. I can say our products that serve in the field are the best until we can do better. We are applying Failure Mode and Effect Analyses (FMEA) in every stage.

Many of our products are used in the field, both in Türkiye and abroad. We have products that have been in use 24/7, 365 days a year, for 3 years without encountering any issues. We are designing our products by forecasting potential problems that might occur through the life cycle of the product utilising our experience and as such, we are providing highly reliable products. I can say our products that serve in the field are the best until we can do better.

MSI TDR: Where does Berkin Defence Engineering see itself in the sector?

Yücel ATALAY: We do not have a set position for ourselves. We can be the main contractor for some projects, main subcontractor for others, or a regular subcontractor for the rest. We can work with integrator companies or end-users. We can take part in all projects where the best, most cost-effective solution is needed. We are more than satisfied to do what is required from us or to achieve our goals. We have always done our work with plenty of enthusiasm, and we plan to continue that way.

Aiming for 50 Percent Export Revenue

MSI TDR: Can you give information about export activities?

Yücel ATALAY: Until now, we have only exported our products indirectly. Our solutions have been a part of platforms or systems that are exported by other companies.

We plan to do direct exports in the future. We have been in talks around the world, and some of them have matured, like Bangladesh, Italy, Pakistan, some African countries, and some countries around the Caspian Sea. We are starting to attend international fairs. We plan to attend fairs in Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Indonesia, and we also plan to take part in Euronaval with our indigenous products. Our aim is to achieve 50 percent of our total revenue from exports, compared to 30 right now.

We would like to thank Yücel ATALAY, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkin Defence Engineering for taking the time to answer our questions, and for providing us with such valuable information.

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