Major General Somboon Ket-in
Director of the Army Research and Development Office
The Army Research and Development Office (ARDO) is one of the command component under the Royal Thai Army (RTA). ARDO is responsible for planning, steering, coordinating, controlling, directing and carrying out both principle and armament research and development, including standard setting and accreditation.
Major General Somboon Ket-in, ARDO Director, said “Royal Thai Army has wide range of equipment for military use, most of them already have long service time and need regular maintenance to ensure their proper and continuous use.”
“One of the equipment of major concern is battery imported from England via marine cargo ship. The battery cannot be delivered via air cargo according to ICAO Safety Management System, resulting in the difficulty in getting new battery replacement. We need to order each lot of battery with certain minimum amount to worth the shipping cost. Long transportation time is another drawback since the battery might soon to be expired upon arrival. These problems can be solved if we can produce those batteries here for our own use.”
ARDO, RTA has foreseen ENTEC, NSTDA as a promising research partner with experienced personnel and complete infrastructure for developing replacement battery. “Battery and battery charger research project had been created since then.”
When asked about research result, Major General Ket-in said “The project was the origin of our success in implementing research work to field test. The prototype can replace previously used system called “Battery Power Management System: BPMS” with improved efficiency. Electrical capacity increased three folds, lighter weight, suitable size and functions for military mission, increased BPMS’s efficiency, comply with military standard test, low cost and save a lot of time comparing to importing from abroad.”
“ENTEC research team has completed the project’s goal regarding an innovation on battery energy, which coincides with the army’s motto : Thai made for Thai use” Major General praised. In the future, the Army has planned for another battery system for another military equipment activity or renewable energy.
Major General Ket-in shared his idea regarding problem and drawback of the research project
“Military use of research product at Defense Industry level has many concerns such as timing. Military equipment has higher standard than regular equipment. In some cases, problem solving via research work took too long and cannot meet the time required. Moreover, repeating experiments and tests to ensure that the required standards are met and research product can function equally or better than those imported would increase the cost of production.”
“Most of the research products use in security applications might not achieve economy of scale unlike those of industrial production. Import duties for raw materials and business tax for production process also add up to net production cost. Investment in production line might not be worth it or even worse, more expensive than importing cost. All of these made it difficult for any private sector to get interested enough to invest.”
“Though the tri-party cooperation between governmental organization, academic institution, and private sector in doing research and development and applying knowledge and technology to help sustain the readiness of military equipment at all time would cost a fortune, but once we get there then it will worth the effort in the long run. All the budget for personnel, experiment, test, research management, standard accreditation, and production will stay in the system. Good aftersales service is another positive factor supporting this idea.”
“Tax measures, regulations, and infrastructure supported from government should significantly reduce production cost and, consequently, the product price. This will cause industrial research for dual-use technology (S-Curve 11) to be realized according to 20-year National Strategy Plan.”
Major General Ket-in suggested that “ENTEC has good research infrastructure and capability to support and respond to the need of RTA and other organizations with good service standard, especially testing and accreditation laboratories. Some organizations might not heard about ENTEC yet so ENTEC should consider more PR in order to get more cooperation in the future. That would immensely help the development of the country.”