An industry source said Asahi Glass Philippines decided to pursue its modernization and expansion project due to competition posed by Hebei Jingniu Crystal Ball Group Company Ltd. of China.
The Chinese firm has announced plans to invest over P17 billion to establish an industrial park anchored on a proposed glass manufacturing facilities and power generating plant inside the Subic Bay Free Port and special economic zone or Bataan Techno Park.
To be competitive, the source pointed out that Asahi Glass Philippines is infusing as much as P1.7 billion to upgrade its existing production line for float glass that is expected to reach the end of its lifespan in 2006.
Another P600 million has also been earmarked to raise the capacity of its existing float glass production line to meet the increasing demand in the local market at the same time to be able to export more glass products abroad.
Asahi Glass Philippines confirmed that it is planning to repair and rehabilitate its float glass furnace starting January 2006.
The program involves state-of-the-art improvements to increase productivity, as well as capability to produce multiple product types.
Under the proposed scheduled, the modernized production facility is expected to reach its full capacity by 2007 and the expansion program would be completed by 2008. The upgraded plant would have an annual capacity of 600,000 metric tons.
If completed, this would bring to P5.5 billion the total investments of Asahi Glass in the Philippines. As of last year, the Japanese glassmaker has injected P3.2 billion worth of investments into its Philippine operations on top of the state-of-the-art technology as well, as increased export market access.
Earlier, Asahi Glass Philippines invested a little over P500 million to put up a glass production facility for solar panel applications inside the complex that is being transformed into a special economic zone.
Output of the proposed production facility for high-grade low-iron solar cover glass for flat plate solar panels would be exported to Japan.
The project would complement the operations of the P18-billion wafer fabrication plant of SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd. inside the Ayala-controlled Laguna Technopark.
The company said the modification and improvement of the furnace was completed last month and has been operating since the middle of last month. The special batch plant for solar cover glass formulation is now under construction.Asahi Glass Philippines said additional equipment for glass processing to augment the existing production capacity would arrive April next year and the production of solar cover glass would by July next year.
Last month, Jingniu Crystal Ball Group of China announced that it would establish a 130-hectare industrial park include two online float coated glass lines; two high tech rolling crystallite glass lines; one glass deep processing line and one crystallite glass deep processing line.