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R&D opens new markets for Maju Mapan's parachutes

Interview - December 9, 2013
CV Maju Mapan started as a small weaving company more than 40 years ago and now provides a broad range of military-specific woven products, and has even become the sole producer of parachutes for the Indonesian Army. On November 21, 2013, its Director, Dr. Yafet Paiman, spoke to United World about the company’s evolution, its new products under development and its thriving lines of business that are helping raise living standards for its workers
Could you tell us about the history of the company and the different lines of business that you have today?

In December 1971, I started as a small company in the weaving industry using manual loom machines. Our first products were small bags for pocket lamps, with a size of 3-5 centimeters. In 1981, we started producing tents and belts. Our first customers were the suppliers who sold our products to the military. In 1983 we started selling our products directly to the Indonesian army.
From 1983 until now we have been using modern machines to fabricate our products. These machines come from Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China, and we have: 42 units of canvas weaving machines, 52 webbing loom machines, two units of fabric coating machinery, 379 sewing machines, and 11 units of cloth cutting machines.
Today we have three main lines of products. Our first line of business is the military equipment. We fabricate different models of tents, such as: military tents, platoon tents, squad tents, hospital tents, toilet tents, refugee tents, and helicopter shelter tents. Other than tents we also produce camp beds, backpacks, different sorts of bags, different sorts of belts, ponchos, and field kitchen trailers. Our second line of production is gas cylinders of three kilograms. And thirdly, in July 2008, we started producing parachutes for the Indonesian Army. 
In 1983 we had a turnover of about $10,000. Our production kept increasing and today our earnings have grown up to $10 million. We have clients in Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Solo, Surabaya, Solo, etc.
Could you tell us more about your facilities in East Java?

Our factory is located in Tulungagung, East Java, which is where I was born. Our premises are built on a land area of more than two hectares. We use modern manufacturing machines and in 1993 we doubled our equipment to be able to increase our production. Today half of our machinery is new, while the other half is second-hand. 
Our factory is also equipped with laboratory facilities, where we regularly test the color endurance of our products, the strength of the fabrics, etc. This is important because we have to ensure that the quality of our products is reliable and sound. We also have a research and development department in charge of creating new products and customizing them in accordance to our clients’ needs. 
Maju Mapan has enabled me to bring benefits to my hometown and its community. I want to improve the wellbeing of our community and create more jobs with higher wages. 
In 2010, Maju Mapan made a breakthrough in the production by starting to manufacture parachutes. How did you come up with the parachute business?

In April 2008, I met with Mr. Joko Santoso, a general from the Indonesian Ground Force. He said he wanted me to develop a leading product for the Indonesian Army and he showed me a sample of a parachute made in America. He said that I could take this parachute home and see if I could produce something similar.
So I took the parachute to Maju Mapan and examined it with my team of technicians. The parachute had some metal parts and we realized that they were produced with a special injection machine. We did not have that kind of machine in our factory, so we were not able to reproduce that metal. We were concerned that without that metal construction, the parachute would not hold together when pulling it. So I came up with the idea to use another kind of metal, which we then cut in pieces and compressed manually to make the steel stronger. 
In 2009, we finally completed the design for the prototype our parachute, which we called Garuda 1P. It took us one year to produce the first 12 prototypes. We then cooperated with the research and development department from the Indonesian Army to test our product. The tests showed that the way we treated the metal construction of our parachutes made our product much stronger, more solid and more resistant than the American sample. This was later also confirmed by the users of our parachutes. 
The Indonesian Army was satisfied with our product and they instructed us to make 200 parachutes, which were also tested. We then decided to expand our production capacity and we bought a new machine to fabricate the metal constructions. Our production kept growing since then and today parachutes comprise 65% of our business.
With your current production capacity, are you able to fulfill the needs of the Indonesian Army in terms of parachutes?

In the past, the Indonesian Army used to import parachutes from the United States. From the moment we started producing our parachutes, they stopped importing parachutes. Today we are the only manufacturer of parachutes for the Indonesian Army. In 2013, our target is to produce 2,100 parachutes for them. We are able to manufacture 10 parachutes in one day, compared to Korea that can only make five parachutes per day. We are able to do so because we have a lot of machines and a considerable workforce. 
A parachute can be used for 10 years. Whether you use it or not, to guarantee the safety and the quality of the parachute, after 10 years it should be renewed. If you use the parachute frequently, it can be used for more or less 100 times. That is why we believe that there is an ongoing need for our parachutes and we will be able to fulfill the capacity of the Indonesian Army. 

Are you also looking at exporting your parachutes to other countries in the future?

All the parachutes we manufacture at the moment are for the Indonesian Army. There was a moment where Malaysia wanted to buy 2,000 parachutes from us. The General of the Malaysian Army even visited our factory once. However the relationship between Malaysia and Indonesia at that moment was not stable, so during negotiations the deal was canceled. 
Nevertheless, in the future, we would like to export our parachutes. In order to do so, we need to increase our production capacity, expand our facilities and buy more equipment. My vision for the future is to be able to produce five parachutes a day for exports, in addition to the 10 parachutes a day for the Indonesian Army.
The Minister of Defense has given us permission to export our parachutes. If it is possible we would like to export to the Middle East, Iran, Kuwait. Korea already requested to cooperate with us to supply parachutes for the Middle East.
Since you developed the first prototype of the Garuda 1P parachute, have you made any changes to this model?

For the time being, we have not made any changes on the Garuda 1P parachute and our customers are very happy with it. Because of the great demand for our parachutes, we have been working on developing a new model, Garuda 2P. We hope to be able to finalize the new prototype in two years. 
First we want to produce the canopy of the parachute ourselves. For the moment, we import the canopy from Korea and by producing our own canopy we would be able to reduce our cost on importation and our price. Furthermore, we want to create a new model or design of the textile. We believe that this will make a difference. We want to integrate our business with the full production chain.
What is the main difference between Garuda 1P and other parachutes?

When they jump from the plane with our parachutes, our soldiers feel safe. According to their feedback, our parachute is easy to control and when they land, they do not tumble down even when the weather conditions are not so favorable.
Our parachutes have been acknowledged by NATO, however we never received an actual certification. We have been ISO-certified since 2009. 
What other projects do you have in mind for the future of Maju Mapan?

I want to create a braking parachute, a parachute that brakes the landing of airplanes. So far, Indonesia has not been able to manufacture this kind of parachute. However, last year we already made a prototype at Maju Mapan. Normally, this type of parachutes can be used only once. But the Indonesian Army wants us to produce parachutes that can be used 20 times. So the quality of the parachute needs to be improved and tested first. We are planning to make three prototypes of these parachutes for testing.
We also want to create a shelter tent for helicopters. We started to make a prototype last year. We want to create this for the 33 helicopters the Army has at the moment. 
In your opinion, what is the key behind the success of Maju Mapan?

The key to success is to keep on learning. Our company has been successful because our research and development team of five experts has been cooperating closely with the research and development department of the Indonesian Army in designing and testing. 
Also, one has to be a risk taker. Parachutes are an expensive business, but we never shied away from investing our money and time into research and development. Manufacturing 12 parachutes costs $1.6 million. So spending money on research is a must for us to guarantee the quality of our products.