Glass Technology: business situation could be better

Although most of the companies belonging to the glass technology industry, which are organized in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), are content with their current business situation, their mood is subdued.

This was to be noted at the annual members’ meeting, held at Grenzebach Machinenbau GmbH in Hamlar in October 2013, where 30 companies participated.    

Only rather slowly incoming orders in the second half of 2013 as well as the difficult situation the photovoltaics industry currently finds itself in – with a worldwide excess capacity of flat and solar glass – are reasons for this dull mood. In addition, there is a strong competitive pressure deriving from China, which applies particularly when technologically simple assignments of tasks are required.

With regard to the special and hollow glass industry, the demand is currently rather good. Many German companies operating in this field are therefore concentrating on offering special applications and solutions for technologically demanding tasks. Also the engineering of customer specific machines and plants as well as their customer services are being seen as promising business fields. However, the hollow glass industry is the only to expect new investments in 2014. “We are therefore looking forward to the glasstec year 2014 with guarded optimism”, is Dr Bernd Holger Zippe’s, chairman of the VDMA Forum Glass Technology, summary of the current mood the industry is in.

Brazil – a major focus of market development in 2014 

The companies expect Europe to also be their most important market in 2014, with impetus coming particularly from East Europe. Asia will be nearly the same, particularly China. Taking a worldwide perspective, the industry sees an increasing business potential in Brazil. This was lately also to be noted, among other things, from companies’ stronger interest in the fair Glass South America which will be held in Sao Paulo from May 21st to 24th, 2014. “Due to budget cuts by the German Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWI), however, the German common booth, which the VDMA was in favour of, will have to be cancelled”, Timo Feuerbach who is in charge of the Forum Glass Technology regrets this development very much. However, there will still be a sponsored trip on the occasion of this fair in 2014, allowing a market survey on the glass technology industry’s situation in Brazil.

“We want to be able to establish contacts to representatives of the glass melting and glass treating industry in the country and learn more about their special requirements in those technologies”, Feuerbach explains the aim of the journey. The exact details of the programme will be determined as of the beginning of 2014. However, interested companies are welcome to contact the VDMA Forum Glass Technology already from now on. The VDMA office in Brazil, which was only recently founded, will support the activities locally.

There are 61 small and middle-sized companies working in the German glass machinery and glass engineering industry that are members of VDMA. These make a turnover of 850 million EUR per year. Two thirds of these derive from exportation activities. The industry has nearly 5,000 employees. In total, there are about 150 VDMA member companies that work with glass or on glass related topics.

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