Stephan Meindl (pictured), the Executive Chairman of Horn Glass Industries, speaks about recent developments in the glass industry and how Horn plans to react to them.
Two main pillars: Float glass and container glass
The future prospects of the industry look good, as the global demand for glass is set to increase. In 2013 approximately 177 million tonnes of glass were produced globally, and by 2016 a demand of 200 million tonnes is predicted, corresponding to an annual increase in production of about 4.5%.
In the container glass industry in Germany, sales of beverage bottles increased by about 4.4 % in the first three quarters of 2014 (source: BV Glas), with the domestic market growing marginally more (4.4%) than international sales, which increased by 4.2%.
Container glass packaging for food is currently facing a ‘trend reversal’, with values such as quality and pleasure coming to the fore and replacing the hunt for the lowest price.
This change of consumer attitude brings about a major change for companies in the food sector: In the future, they will offer more premium quality products.
The packaging is important here, and so it does not come as a surprise that companies are rediscovering glass. There is hardly any other packaging material that conveys the quality and the pleasure derived from its contents as easily and credibly as glass does.
So, as the demand for container glass is set to increase in the future, Horn Glass wants to consolidate its market share in glass melting furnaces in existing markets, and break into new, developing markets.
The second main pillar of Horn is the float glass sector. The float glass industry is currently at a very low level with few investments being made in new production facilities, so there will only be moderate growth in 2015.
Horn supplies turnkey float glass production plants, and offers a range starting from batch charging through to utilities and up to packaging. Moreover, customers may expect project management and architectural planning.
Horn’s customers in the float glass industry are usually ‘independent’ glass manufacturers, but Horn has also managed to make close contacts within established float glass corporate groups that are active internationally.
According to Meindl, the future target is to cooperate more closely with the global players of the float glass industry. The fact that Horn manufactures the melting furnaces, the tin bath and the automation in-house will support these plans.
Markets and competitive pressure
Global markets fluctuate considerably, but in general Horn achieves 75% of its turnover abroad. Currently, the EU and Asia are its key markets, and Latin America also plays an important role. “We are also glad that the demand from the Middle East is increasing again”, says Meindl.
However, there is strong competitive pressure in the newly industrialised countries, and for a high-tech supplier it can be difficult to compete. Horn Glass has two solutions for this problem: In-house manufacture, and global locations.
Due to the high percentage of in-house planning and manufacture, Horn is in a position to adapt the heating system or the electric control of the glass melting furnaces, for example, and to keep its prices attractive. Moreover, materials and services can be purchased directly and locally through global locations in China, Malaysia, India and the Czech Republic.
Horn intends to consolidate and expand its locations worldwide in order to be closer to the customers. As well as this, more agencies will be set up in countries with a strong glass industry. Horn is already represented in many countries in the world, and in Meindl’s view cooperating with other companies in order to offer production facilities and service to the glass industry is a model for the future.
Horn is already represented in a strong partnership known as the Container Glass Alliance and can offer complete glass factories together with its partners Zippe, MSK, and Bucher Emhart.