The modern Indian glass industry is around 100 years old. In the first half of the last century the industry was rather primitive, melting the glass in pot furnaces and small tank furnaces that were fuelled by either coal or gas–although some furnaces at the coastal cities used furnace oil. From the early 1950s the glass industry started manufacturing using modern equipment, both for melting and production. Collaboration with multinational companies gave a boost to the industry.
It was in the lost decade of the twentieth century that the Indian glass industry started to seriously compete globally, installing improved furnaces to conserve energy and therefore reduce the cost of production. The cheaper availability of natural gas in some parts of the country also enabled the industry to reduce energy costs to some extent, and the flat glass industry upgraded to the float process. India now has four float glass plants, although there are still a few sheet glass manufacturing units in operation using both the Fourcault and PPG processes.
The manufacture of figured glass is well established in India. Container glass production has benefited from the addition of higher capacity manufacturing units during the past decade, and this part of the industry is doing fairly well. The flask linings sector has earned a niche in the export market, as well as meeting the domestic requirement. The manufacture of glass bangles has moved to the semi automatic process and India has its own technology in the bangle and glass bead sector.
Research is currently being undertaken for the technological improvement of the finishing process. There has been a quantum leap in glass fibre manufacture with new multinational entrants and a substantial growth in exports. The tableware industry was badly hit with imports and is slowly recovering, acquiring modern equipment to upgrade the sector. There is potential for foreign collaboration here. Ophthalmic glass is still being imported into India and there is scope for putting modern manufacturing units in place.
The industry is progressing steadily and will hopefully reach global standards in the weaker sectors as well as in those that are currently strong. Indian glass industry overview. http://www. allbusiness. com/nonmetallic-mineral/glass-glass-manufacturing/85938 9-1. html Date: Tuesday, November 1 2005 At the 61st annual session of the All India Glass Manufacturers' Federation, held in New Delhi last September, retiring President, Sanjay Somany reviewed key issues facing the local glass industry, in the presence of Dr Ajay Dua, Secretary (IPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India.
A summary of Sanjay Somany's presentation is given below, together with details of the federation's newly elected officers. Despite the uncertainties associated with two consecutive coalition governments, the Indian economy has undergone rapid and all-encompassing change, clearly indicating the strengths of Indian democracy. Economic policy changes have eased out Indian enterprise from governmental control towards globalisation of the economy. These measures have borne fruit and the economy is on a steady progressive path.
In spite of petroleum price hikes, inflation is under control and the national economy is expected to grow by around 7%. The balance of payments continues to be favourable and India has comfortable foreign exchange reserves. Promoting the industry Since its inception in 1944, the All India Glass Manufacturers' Federation has been promoting the cause of all segments of the local glass industry. Sustained efforts are being made by members of the federation to promote the industry's growth and development.
Diversified capabilities The Indian glass industry has a rich history. From mouth blown and hand working processes, it has taken to automation in a big way, although traditional manufacturing processes have not been abandoned. Mouth blown and handcrafted glassware have a dominant role in decorative and table glassware, products which are exported in large quantities. The majority of raw materials required by the industry are available locally, providing excellent scope for growth and development. Flat glass
Despite the closure of certain sheet glass manufacturing units, total flat glass production has increased via the establishment of new float lines. There has been an increase in demand for float glass as a result of increased investment from the construction and automotive sectors. Float glass manufacturers are gearing up to meet this demand and are planning to increase their installed capacities. Containers Glass container production has more than doubled from approximately 800,000 tonnes in 1997-98 to some 1. 7 million tonnes in 2004-05.
This is despite the stiff competition faced from alternative packaging materials. Production levels increased by 5% in the last 12 months, emphasising the continued importance of the material as a preferred packing material in view of its transparency, chemical inertness, impermeability and ability to maintain the optimum freshness of its contents. Tableware The massive surge of imports, especially from China, continues to impact the local glass tableware industry, with large quantities of opal and crystal ware being dumped in the market.
The price at which these items are being sold shows that either all or most goods have reached the market by avoiding customs duty payments. This has resulted in the underutilisation of installed capacity and is adversely affecting the profitability of local manufacturers. Exports Dramatically increased Levels of glass and glassware exports have been recorded in recent years, from US$35 million in 1993-94 to US$200 million in 2002-03 and US$227 million in 2003-04 (all figures ore approximate currency conversions : Ed).
In the last 12 months, increasing production costs have slowed the rate of growth, however, to a level of US$234 million. Products to achieve strong export growth in 2004-05 were glass fibre, ophthalmic Lenses, glass lampware, containers, bangles, table/ kitchenware, mirrors, glass beads and false pearls. Export shortfalls were recorded for vacuum flasks and refills, unworked sheet glass, VIALS, float glass and scientific glassware.