In October 2017, the Basalt.Today portal published an interview with Alexey Udivanov, General Director of Russian Basalt LLC, one of the leading manufacturers of continuous basalt fiber in Russia. The Russian Basalt plant, located in Chelyabinsk (Russia), has been operating since 2011 and produces basalt roving and chopped fiber under the Meltrock trademark, which has gained wide popularity not only in Russia but also abroad.
After almost 2.5 years, we again contacted Aleksey Udivanov and asked him to tell us what changes occurred in Russian Basalt, how the company feels in the difficult times of the global coronavirus pandemic and the impending economic recession, what changes await the company in this situation.
The first question, of course, how have those 2.5 years passed since the publication of our first interview?
It was a good 2.5 years, we worked at full capacity, our products remained in high demand, and sometimes we could not even satisfy all incoming requests. The CBF market showed good growth and dynamics, which also affected a slight increase in product prices and allowed manufacturers to accumulate opportunities and resources for further development and expansion.
What changes have occurred in Russian Basalt?
On March 2, 2020, we launched a new production (photo from the opening) of the final basalt composite products, such as composite polymer building nets with a core diameter of 2 to 6 mm and standard mesh sizes of 50×50, 100×100, 150×150 mm. Also on our equipment we can produce composite reinforcement with sand sprinkling and flexible connections. Basically, we plan to produce products on our own production of basalt roving, but if there is demand, we can also manufacture high-quality glass composite products.
Very interesting! And what dictated the decision to start producing final products?
There are no secrets here, and everyone understands that it is more cost-effective to produce final products, with their own raw materials. In addition, it is also an expansion of the sales market, and diversification. The demand for composite reinforcing materials for construction is steadily growing, taking into account accepted standards around the world and the emergence of an increasing number of successful cases of replacing metal reinforcement with composites.
Please tell us more about the new product – what are its distinctive characteristics and advantages.
Distinctive characteristics and advantages – it is certainly that we control the quality of products at all stages, starting with the production of raw materials (roving), therefore we can guarantee extremely high rates of strength, durability and reliability. It is no secret that more than 90% of the composite products presenting as basalt on the market are painted glass composites. As a result, the buyer receives low-quality products that do not meet the characteristics inherent in basalt composites. We want to offer the market 100% quality products, we constantly monitor the quality of raw materials, basalt roving, in our own laboratory. After the launch of the pultrusion line and the debugging of technological processes, we entered into an agreement with an independent testing laboratory, which is now testing samples, and soon we will receive an independent opinion confirming the physical and mechanical characteristics of our products as declared in TU parameters.
Another point that I would like to note in the current situation of economic instability of the exchange rate is our relative independence from fluctuations in exchange rates. Our company operates on Russian-made equipment, mainly on Russian raw materials, so we have the opportunity to maintain stable prices even with sharp changes in the ruble against the euro or dollar.
How do you sell basalt composite products?
We take orders directly to the factory and ship products from our warehouse in Chelyabinsk, this is the shortest and most economical way for the buyer. Of course, we are interested in cooperation with regional dealers, and also consider future access to the international market.
How has the situation with the coronavirus pandemic affected you?
At the moment, the plant continues to operate in 24-hour mode, and office employees are transferred to remote work from home. Unfortunately, our plans to participate in exhibition events were disrupted, such as the largest world composite exhibition JEC World 2020, where for two years in a row we were active participants and exhibited our products, held a large number of meetings and negotiations with partners and customers.
Do you already think of any measures to preserve business in the context of an impending economic recession?
Of course, it would be foolish to pretend that “everything is fine” or to hide your head in the sand. In this situation, you just need to remain active, attentive and rely on your “business instinct”. The global economy is in decline, but I am still inclined to believe that the composite market will stay afloat and will develop, albeit at a slower pace.
We are not going to rest on our laurels, we have plans to expand production and expand the construction composite polymer materials market, we now have one pultruded line on which we are improving technological processes, entering a new market for us, by the end of the year we plan run the second line. We also plan to double the capacity of the main production of basalt roving, this is a fairly complex and resource-intensive task, therefore, we invite interested partners for cooperation.
In conditions of travel restrictions and personal meetings, you need to switch to a new format and “digitalize”, stay in the public eye, develop your brand recognition, be an active participant in the business community. I am glad that we have such an Internet platform as Basalt.Today, which supports the participants in the composite industry.
Alexey Vladimirovich, thanks for the kind words addressed to us. We hope that the new tools of our portal will help your company develop even in difficult times. Thank you for the interview and wish Russian Basalt success!
Companies: Russian Basalt (Meltrock)
Persons: Aleksey Udivanov
Technologies: Basalt fiber technology