German manufacturers of glass machinery are looking optimistically to the future, with global markets remaining predominantly stable.
According to the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), boosts are expected from Asia, the Gulf States and from glasstec among other places.
The German glass machinery industry is anticipating sales of roughly €1 billion for the current year.
"If we are to remain competitive, we must above all keep costs under control", says Dr Bernd-Holger Zippe, Shareholder and Member of the Supervisory Board of Zippe Industrieanlagen (pictured above).
He warns that wage settlements in the German glass machinery industry are above increases in productivity, and while the industry is still doing well, if wages continue to increase as strongly as they have in the past, there could be a "rude awakening" for some manufacturers.
Dr. Zippe is Chairman of the Glass Technology Forum, a division of the VDMA, to which more than 90% of German-based manufacturers of glass machinery are members.
According to Dr. Zippe, competition in the markets has become tougher.
New providers have entered the market and devaluation-related currency advantages are making business even more difficult.
Despite all of this, he is of the opinion that German manufacturers have succeeded in defending their leading position in global markets, nevertheless, he notes that this is not a "foregone conclusion".
Seen overall, he says that while "the market is relatively stable", there can be no talk of stronger growth.
In particular, he is expecting more competition from the UK.
The devaluation of the pound will enable manufacturers in the UK to offer their products at more favourable prices on the world markets, which will also affect German companies.
"The successful companies will be those that are innovative", says Dr. Zippe's deputy at the VDMA Glass Technology Forum, Dr. Harald Jodeit, Managing Director and owner of JSJ Jodeit (pictured below).
However, this is not possible without intense research and development.
Awareness for product quality, energy efficiency and flexibility has increased throughout the world, and the trend is moving away from mass production towards quality - above all in China.
In this respect, maximum output with low energy consumption and low environmental burdens is playing an increasingly important role.
According to Dr. Jodeit, he sees further growth opportunities in greater technological cooperation with glass manufacturers and thus with customers.
He believes that in some manufacturing companies technological know-how is "increasingly being lost,” as concentration is frequently on economic production planning and optimisation.
What manufacturers of glass machinery must therefore offer is tailor-made, complete technical solutions and technological support in close collaboration with the glass producers.
Dr. Jodeit is expecting an increase in demand from Iran, and also from the Gulf States and the Maghreb or Egypt.
There, companies are frequently confronted with potential customers with little experience, with a major interest in holistic technical solutions and services such as training, technological support and production accompaniment.
Dr. Jodeit is also expecting glasstec to produce brisk demand for innovative machine and plant concepts for the manufacture of special glass, glass ceramics and functional glass, for example in the thin-glass sector.
The trend here is towards "very special, intelligent glass with optimised attributes".
Dr. Jodeit is certain that thin-glass will find its way into many other areas in addition to the known applications in the electronics industry - for example car manufacturing and transport in general as well as architecture.
According to him, "lightweight glass in vehicles and lightweight structures with domes from thin, unbreakable glass is not a utopian idea."