Ordnance Factories Board (OFB), consisting of the Indian Ordnance Factories (Hindi: भारतीय आयुध निर्माणियाँ), is an industrial setup functioning under the Department of Defence Production of Ministry of Defence, Government of India. It is engaged in production, testing, logistics, research, development and marketing of a comprehensive product range in the areas of land, air and sea systems. Headquartered at Ayudh Bhawan, Kolkata, it consists of forty-one Factories, nine Training Institutes, three Regional Marketing Centres and four Regional Controllerates of Safety.
OFB is the world's largest government operated production organisation and the oldest industrial setup run by the Government of India. It has a total workforce of about 164,000. It is often called the "Fourth Arm of Defence" and the "Force Behind the Armed Forces" of India. It is also amongst the top 100 arms manufacturers in the world and was ranked at 48 in the list released by disarmament watchdog SIPRI for 2011, down from 45 in 2010. Its total sales were at $2.655 billion, with arms sales bringing in about 80 percent of its revenue. Every year, 18 March is celebrated as the Ordnance Factories' Day in India.
The history and development of Indian ordnance factories is directly linked with the British reign in India. The East India Company considered military hardware to be a vital element for securing their economic interest in India and increasing their political power. In 1775 British authorities accepted the establishment of the Board of Ordnance at Fort William, Calcutta. This marks the official beginning of the Army Ordnance in India.
In 1787 a gunpowder factory was established at Ichapore; it began production in 1791, and the site was later used as a rifle factory beginning in 1904. In 1801, Gun Carriage Agency (now known as Gun & Shell Factory, Cossipore) was established at Cossipore, Calcutta, and production began on 18 March 1802. This is the oldest ordnance factory in India still in existence.
Stamp issued by Department of Posts, India on the bicentenary anniversary of the Indian Ordnance Factories
The growth of the Ordnance Factories Board leading to its present setup has been continuous but sporadic. There were eighteen ordnance factories before India became independent in 1947 and twenty-three factories have been established after independence, mostly in the wake of defence preparedness imperatives brought about by the three major wars fought by the Indian Armed forces.
1801 - Establishment of Gun Carriage Agency at Cossipore, Kolkata.
1802 - Production begins at Cossipore on 18 March.
1906 - The Administration of Indian Ordnance Factories comes under a separate charge as "IG of Ordnance Factories".
1933 - Charged to "Director of Ordnance Factories".
1948 - Placed under direct control of Ministry of Defence.
1962 - Department of Defence Production was set up at Ministry of Defence.
1979 - Ordnance Factories Board is established on 2 April.
The Apex Board is headed by the Director General of Ordnance Factories (DGOF), who acts as the Chairman of the Board (equivalent to Secretary, Government of India) and consists of nine other members, who each hold the rank of Additional DGOF. Ordnance Factories are divided into 5 operating divisions, depending upon the type of the main products/technologies employed. These are :
Ammunition and Explosives (A&E)
Weapons, Vehicles & Equipment (WV&E)
Materials and Components (M&C)
Armoured Vehicle (AV)
Ordnance Equipment Group of Factories (OEF)
Each of the above group of factories is headed by a Member/Additional DGOF. The four remaining Members are responsible for staff functions, viz Personnel (Per), Finance (Fin), Planning & Material Management (P&MM), Technical Services (TS) and they operate from Kolkata.
Each factory is headed by a General Manager (equivalent to Additional Secretary, Government of India). The factories, mostly situated in remote areas, stretch from hundreds to a few thousand acres of land and are all essentially self-sufficient townships having their own residential bungalows, quarters, schools, hospitals, water pump houses, treatment plants and storage tanks, electrical sub-stations, post offices, telephone exchanges, banks, ATMs, transport facilities, general stores, shopping complexes, grocery shops, utility shops, canteens, places of worship, family welfare centres, inspection bungalows, guest houses, community halls, mess, clubs, parks, sports and recreational facilities.
OFB provides twenty-five factory hospitals, thirty-nine factory health clinics, sixty-eight estate health clinics and seventeen family welfare centres. With most of the factories located in areas away from city and town centres, the education of the children of their employees has been a major problem. To address this, the Board today runs twenty-four schools, including eleven high schools, six higher secondary schools, and the rest are primary schools, and thirty-four Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools). Sporting infrastructure is maintained by the Sports Control Board, which also organises sporting events and tournaments.
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Ambajhari (OFILAJ)
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Ambernath (OFILAM)
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Avadi (OFILAV)
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Dehradun (OFILDD)
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Ishapore (OFILIS)
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Khamaria (OFILKH)
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Kanpur (OFILKN)
Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning Medak (OFILMK)
Each institute is headed by a Principal Director. NADP provides training to Group "A" officers whilst the other eight institutes impart training to Group "B" & Group "C" officers of the ordnance factories. Each institute has its own teaching complex housing the library, lecture halls, labs, hostels, mess, sports and recreational facilities. These institutes provide training to the employees on the topics of engineering, management, production, human relations, computer skills, organisational behaviour, CNC operation, personal and environmental safety, provide knowledge of Government rules and regulations as short term, induction, refresher and re-orientation courses.
IOFS is a multi-disciplinary composite cadre consisting of technical - Engineers (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics), Technologists (Chemical, Metallurgical, Textile, Leather) and non technical (Science, Law, Commerce, Management and Arts streams). Technical posts comprise about 87% of the total cadre. IOFS officers are group "A" Defence civilian officers under the Ministry of Defence. They are responsible for the management of ordnance factories, which provide the sinews of self-reliant, indigenous, defence production capabilities of the nation.
Civilians are required to hold Arms License (issued only for non-prohibited bore category weapons) in order to buy firearms in India. The following products of the Indian Ordnance Factories Board are available for civilians:
Despite of highly skilled manpower, latest technologies and huge investments, the Ordnance Factories and their management have often been criticised for their inefficiency, delay in supplies, obsolete and substandard products of much higher costs than those manufactured by their foreign competitors, corruption at all levels including top management and a small volume of exports. The ministerial and bureaucratic hassles, lack of decision making and accountability of the people concerned are often blamed. To counter the above, talks were held in the past to privatise the Ordnance Factories after witnessing the turnaround of other Indian companies which were converted into PSUs, but the Ministry of Defence has always ruled out such a possibility since the Ordnance Factories are the backbone of the Indian Armed Forces and should be controlled solely by the Government of India. Efforts are now being made by the Ordnance Factories to run the factories at their full capacities, employ and train skilled manpower, efficient usage of the available resources, update and induct new products, provide more sophisticated products, increase and diversify product categories, supply them to the forces on time, stringent quality assurance, JV with foreign and other domestic manufacturers and to increase their overseas presence and exports.