Float Glass Industry in India is relatively new; the first float glass plant was established as recently as 15 years back. In this period India has emerged an important player in float glass production and today there are six float lines in operation and five new lines are at different stages of completion. It goes without saying that the rapid increase in demand during the late 1990s due to construction activities, in addition to provoking a cutback in exports, charmed some international firms which now are the major producers of float glass in the country.
India had been using sheet and lower quality float glass through ages. Secondary processing was negligible with the majority of glass being installed in basic, monolithic form such as casting glasses. Until 1992, only sheet glass was being manufactured in the country, with a limited quantity of float glass being imported. In 1993, the first float glass plant was set. Since then new varieties of float and sheet glass capacities have been added. Against decades of old practice of casting glass in sheets over plain surfaces, the technology of float glass had brought about a significant change in the production and use of glass. The switch from low quality sheet glass with limited range and thickness to the sophisticated float glass took place in just a decade.
Totally, the flat glass industry grew by about 90% between 2000 and 2007, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 11%. The per capita consumption of glass, which was 0.41 kg in 1999, reached 0.80% kg in 2007. The demand for flat glass in India has increased at an average rate of 12 percent to 15 percent each year for the past five years. Respective market share of float and sheet glass is 89 percent and 11 percent. However, the greater proportion of sheet and lower-quality float capacity will gradually phase out and be replaced with high-quality float. The two main consuming sectors of flat glass in India are the construction and automotive industries, both of which have been experiencing hyper growth for the last five years.
Eighty-three percent of the glass produced is used in the construction industry, 15 percent in the automotive industry and 2 percent in miscellaneous industries such as furniture and photo frames. The automobile industry, four-wheelers, has registered 18.6 percent growth between January and November 2007. The construction sector is growing around 12 percent per annum. India exports about 13,000 tons of glass per month to the Middle East, African countries, Europe and South America. The rapid increase in the demand for flat glass in the domestic market has resulted in a cutback in exports by as much as 60 percent in the last couple of years.
The major producers of float glass in India are three foreign joint ventures and an Indian company:
Asahi India Glass Ltd
Taloja, Maharashtra, Roorkee, UP; Asahi India’s two plants produce 500 tons and 750 tons per day. Asahi India Glass Ltd. It started operations in December 1994. It started off as a joint venture between the Tatas and Asahis of Japan. With the exit of the Asahis in 2003, it was taken over by Asahi India Safety, the automotive glass manufacturing company. The merged entity is known as Asahi India Glass Ltd. The company started a new float plant with a 750-ton capacity on Jan. 1, 2007 at Uttaranchal in North India.
Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd.,
Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu; Saint-Gobain’s two plants produce 550 tons and 700 tons per day. It started operations in 2000 and is India’s largest capacity float plant. It is a 100 percent subsidiary of the Saint-Gobain Group
Gujarat Guardian Ltd.,
Ankleshwar, Gujarat, Gujarat Guardian, the first company to set up float glass plant in India produces 550 tons per day; It is a joint venture between Guardian Industries International Corp. of the United States and India’s Modi Group.
in Allahabad produces 200 tons of float glass per day. It’s a mini float plant based on Chinese float-glass technology.
Other than these four established players, a few domestic companies too are venturing in Float Glass production; there float lines are at various stages of completion. All the three new players are related to glass industry.
Gold Plus Glass Limited- Gold Plus glass is a New Delhi based glass processor, and has a significant market share in processing glass industry, It’s CEO announced that it’s Roorkie based latest float glass manufacturing plant of Gold Plus, would start production in June, 2008. The furnace may be fired on any suitable day in June; 2008.The estimated cost of this project is approximately Rs.400 Crores in the first phase. The capacity of this float glass production line would be 460tonnes per day. This float glass production line will produce clear and green tinted glass from 2 to 19mm thickness. Most of the machineries for this plant are from Europe and America and Yaohua Glass Group of China.
Sejal Glass, another prominent manufacturer of value added glass, based in Mumbai ( Western Coast) has ambitious plans to set up a Float Line. The factory site is at Bharuch, for which the construction has already begun and production will commence from March 2009. The plant will undertake manufacturing of Clear and Tinted Glass
HNG Float Glass- Hindustan National Glass company, the leading manufacturer of container glass in India, made the announcement of setting its float glass plant in Dec. 2007, in Halol, Gujarat. Capacity of this line will be 600 Ton/day and is expected to be on stream by middle of 2009. In its press release the company stated that equipments would be sourced from European suppliers.
Current capacity versus demand in India
An excess capacity of raw glass in the industry was experienced in the beginning of 2006. This excess capacity could become larger in the years to come if current investment plans see the light of day. In 2007, the excess capacity was four times that of 2006, and in 2008 it could be six times that of 2006. This is assuming demand continues to grow at the current double-digit pace. It is interesting to note that the cumulative profit of flat-glass manufacturers in India is still in the red.
The construction and automotive industries are the most important consuming sectors, almost 80 million square feet of land in India is earmarked for shopping malls, taking into consideration Special Economic Zones and Corporate offices, there is an immense opportunity in Indian Glass industry. Nowadays, taking climate, safety, sound attenuation, energy conservation and aesthetics into consideration, builders are opting for more glass in their construction. The glass revolution is also taking place in the automotive industry which is predicted to grow at more than 15% till 2012.
Anyway, it isn’t all roses for Indian glass industry, problems like the overcapacity of raw glass (and a projected surplus of processed glass); Chinese competition (in spite of anti-dumping duties) and the lack of codes of standards threaten Indian glass industry. As far as overcapacity concerned, analysts say that the supply will far exceed demand at least until 2009. Excess capacity, increased competition and the development of a regulatory framework are the real future challenges for the Indian glass industry.
by Seema Gahlaut