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Interview Home > Interview

Interview with Mr. M V Sivakumaran, Business Head, Electro Minerals, CUMI


Refwin: Thanks for accepting Refwin’s Interview. Would you please start with a brief introduction of CUMI, including main business, application sectors, and target markets?


Mr. M V Sivakumaran: Carborundum Universal Limited (CUMI) is part of the USD 5.6 billion Murugappa Group, headquartered in Chennai, India. CUMI, established as a tripartite in 1954, is a leading materials science engineering solutions provider. CUMI is a mines to market company whose integrated operations include mining, power generation, fusion, manufacturing, marketing and distribution. CUMI has over 5,000 employees worldwide who collaborate, innovate and develop high-quality material solutions and world-class services in abrasives, electro minerals, refractories and ceramics, serving customers in diverse industries including engineering, fabrication, auto and auto components, infrastructure, steel, glass, power generation and distribution, mining and aerospace. 


Refwin: In CUMI’s business structure, Abrasives account for the major share, Refractories belongs to the ceramics sector, and Electrominerals is an independent business unit. Does the way the business is structured have anything to do with the history of CUMI?


Mr. M V Sivakumaran: The strong focus on backward integration in the early years led to the acquisition of mines, setting up of hydel- and natural gas-based power generation plants. These early investments provided the impetus to meet the captive demands of Abrasives, Refractories and Ceramic divisions. Over the years, the Electro Minerals Division, beyond catering to the captive requirements, has developed a portfolio of products to cater to global customers. The pioneering efforts led to the development of materials like Sol-Gel Alumina, Alumina-Zirconia, high purity SiC, Graphene, and Graphite, which has contributed to the growth of the Electro Minerals Division. The refractories division makes Fired Refractories, precast shapes, and monolithic products. In addition, our Super Refractories division offers speciality products using High Alumina, Mullite, Zirconia-Mullite, Silicon Carbide and Nitride Bonded Silicon Carbide. 


Refwin: The year 2021 marks the 67th anniversary of CUMI. What makes CUMI stand out from its peers? What are the goals of CUMI?


Mr. M V Sivakumaran: Over the past six decades, CUMI has remained a resilient organisation built on strong fundamentals. CUMI’s focus on strong backward integration, diversity in product segments & geography, and strong people capability for innovation has made it possible to create a specialised niche for itself. All these have led to strengthening the core: Building materials of the future. The future goals of CUMI is focused on the improvement of sustainability of its operations in line with the UNSDG goals. 


Refwin: What is CUMI’s current and future global footprint and layout, especially in emerging markets?


Mr. M V Sivakumaran: CUMI has over 20,000 product varieties and a wide geographical presence spanning five continents and exports products to over 43 countries. CUMI operates out of 31 state-of-the-art facilities across five countries. Today, CUMI is the largest Electro Minerals & Abrasives player in India, one of the largest producers of Silicon Carbide grains worldwide and the third-largest manufacturer of Zirconia worldwide. We continue to focus on new minerals and market opportunities in the business segments we operate. 


Refwin: At present, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented challenges for businesses. How does CUMI achieve business stability and even growth while ensuring the safety of its employees? 


Mr. M V Sivakumaran: The impact of the global crisis has had a rippling effect. During the year, the primary focus across all businesses of CUMI was the health and safety of our employees. The financial prudence of the Group, coupled with a focus on working capital management, helped us tide over challenges posed by the global pandemic. In addition, strong people processes, well-established risk management systems, a resilient workforce, and improved operational efficiencies enabled our growth. Today, even as we see a dip in the second wave numbers, a balance of lives and livelihood continues to remain a top priority across CUMI. 


Refwin: More and more enterprises attach importance to digitalisation. What efforts and attempts has CUMI made in this respect? What are the phased achievements?


Mr. M V Sivakumaran: CUMI has developed a digital road map to incorporate many features of IIOT and systems to improve digitalisation. We have completed an ERP upgradation to provide data analytics to increase decision making agility. Smart manufacturing initiatives at the shop floor and warehouse tracking systems using RFID technologies have further speeded up digitalisation. Exclusively developed “CUMI Connect” – a mobile app system that provides multiple real-time features, including product tracking for end customers.


Refwin: What development trends, in terms of applications, can we expect for fused minerals in the next 3-5 years?


Mr. M V Sivakumaran: With increasingly conscious customers and stringent government legislations, the move towards sustainable production is inevitable. At the core of all developmental trends will be a thrust on sustainability. There will be an abundance of opportunities for new-age materials like heat containment and phase change materials. 

In India, the growing demands of infrastructure, a focus on domestic production, and continued increase in per capita income will be three significant contributory trends. 

Another major shift is the introduction and widespread acceptance of EV. This development is changing the landscape of the minerals industry too. With today and the future in sight, the Electro Minerals division has developed a new range of materials like Ultra High Purity SiC, High Purity Graphite, Silicon Nitride, Synthetic BFA, Marlin AZ40 and Graphene. 

Refwin: OK, Thank you. Look forward to a more brilliant future for CUMI!

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