Volume 42, Issue 8 - August 2007

Major Moves   
A Detailed Look at the Many Aspects 
of the Global Glass Market
by Charles Cumpston


It’s a small world after all, as the song lyrics say, getting smaller all the time. And that’s certainly true in the architectural glass and metal industry. At all levels, and in all ways, we’re becoming more and more global.

The number of global primary glass manufacturers continues to shrink, with Nippon Sheet Glass’s (NSG) acquisition of Pilkington, while the other global primaries—Asahi, Guardian and Saint-Gobain—continue to expand, particularly in emerging markets. 

There has been an explosion of float glass plants being built in China, and that means more production with more products being exported. Glass manufacturing has also increased in the Middle East and in South America.

The Ins and Outs
The exportation of glass, particularly value-added products, also has resulted from the increased global capacity and the increasing number of fabricators around the world. 

There is growing concern in the United States about Chinese companies selling glass and metal directly to end users, competing with the domestic companies while enjoying the advantage of lower wages and expenses.

Industry suppliers also are doing a quick-step dance to try and keep up with the evolving situation in their segment of the market. Again, China is the primary new kid on the block as an equipment supplier threatening the traditional European companies.

The tables and charts accompanying this article provide an idea of what is taking place in the industry in terms of glass production and movement.

Mexico and Canada remain the primary import and export partners for the United States, according to the figures compiled from tariff and trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (see charts). The automotive industry undoubtedly accounts for a large part of the North American trade with glass coming and going across the U.S. borders to be fabricated or installed in motor vehicles.

Primary Branding
The industry also is becoming more sophisticated. The competition among the global primary glass manufacturers has fostered the need for keen business instincts. They have been expanding, both internally and through acquisition. On page 56 we examine the approach that each of the four global primaries is taking in terms of its acquisition program and its “branding” of corporate names that have high recognition factors.

In recent statements, senior executives from these primary glass manufacturers have said that they expect more global consolidation, which means that the market will continue to change.

Tomoaki Abe, vice chairman of NSG, spoke with USGlass in an exclusive interview about his view of the world market. Excerpts from that interview are on page 60. He sees an industry that will continue to change and offer increasingly sophisticated products.

No industry, even one as mature as ours, can afford to stand still. Innovation will continue to make our world seem even smaller.

Primary Branding
The global primary glass manufacturers have been expanding, both internally and through acquisition, around the world, particularly in areas where there is a growing demand for glass for construction purposes. When companies are acquired, if that name is a strong brand, there may be reluctance on the part of the acquiring company to change that name. Following are examples of how each of the four global primary glass manufacturers has handled branding.

Asahi Glass Co. Ltd.
Established: 1907
Headquarters: Tokyo
Annual sales: Approximately $6.69 billion for glass business
Employees: Approximately 6,000
Global companies include:

  • Glaverbel, Belgium

  • Glaverbel Czech, Teplice

  • BOR Glassworks, Russia

  • AGC America, Charlotte, N.C.

  • AFG Industries, Alpharetta, Ga.

  • AFG Industries Ltd., Canada

  • PT Asahimas Float Glass, Indonesia

  • Asahi Glass Philippines, Manila

  • AGC Flat Glass, Thailand

Guardian Industries Corp.
Established: 1932
Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Mich.
Annual sales: Approximately $5 billion
Employees: Approximately 19,000
Global companies include:

  • Guardian Bascharage, Grande-Duche de Luxembourg

  • Guardian Czestochowa, Poland

  • Guardian Maturin, Venezuela

  • Guardian Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia

  • Guardian Gujarat, India

  • Guardian Nong Khae, Saraburi

  • Guardian Rayong, Thailand

Nippon Sheet Glass Co. Ltd.
Established: 1918
Headquarters: Tokyo
Annual sales: Approximately $5.595 billion
Employees: Approximately 35,000
Global companies include:

  • Pilkington Group Ltd., St. Helens, UK

  • Malaysian Sheet Glass Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia/Kuala Lumpur

  • Tianjin NSG Safety Glass Co. Ltd., Tianjin, China

  • Vietnam Float Glass Co. Ltd., Bac Ninh, Vietnam

  • NSG North America Inc., Michigan

Saint-Gobain Group
Established: 1665
Headquarters: Le Defense Cedex, France
Annual sales: 41.596 billion Euros (approximately $55.5 billion) total corporate; flat glass is 12 percent of sales (approximately $6.6 billion)
Employees: Flat Glass Division 35,000; corporate total 207,000
Global companies include:

  • Saint-Gobain Glass Exprover, Brussels

  • Solaglas, United Kingdom

  • Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd., Tamil Nadu

  • Vetrotech Saint-Gobain North America Inc., Auburn, Wash.

  • Saint-Gobain Glass Exprover North America Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz.

the author: Charles Cumpston is a contributing editor for USGlass magazine.

Exports by Type (2006)*
Commodity Unit Export
    Volume Value (USD)
Rolled glass m2 19,761,767 44,528,364
Ordinary flat glass m2 38,744,682 48,514,315
Float glass m2 205,849,754 526,062,216
Tempered glass 339,133,554
Laminated glass m2 17,044,552 141,578,810
Glass mirror Kg 437,797,707 450,938,959
Decorative glass Kg 272,978,962 241,050,934
Scrap glass Kg 91,119,492 21,692,171

2006 Chinese Flat Glass Output*
Total flat glass 454.56 million cases
(22.728 million tons)
Growth rate 10.6%
Float glass 372.15 million cases
(18.607 million tons)
Growth rate 12.3%
Ordinary flat glass 82.41 million cases
(4.125 million tons)
Growth rate 8.3%

2006 Chinese Flat Glass Output*
Year Month Production
This month Cumulative in this year
'000 cases Increase % '000 cases Increase %
2007 Mar 27,594.60 13.69 78,147.10 6.63
Feb 26,004.10 10.32 53,525.70 9.26
Jan 26,291.10 6.82 n/a n/a
2006 Dec 26,597.70 4.48 289,464.60 3.36
Nov 25,250.20 1.46 261,269.40 3.89
Oct 24,621.60 1.42 230,267.30 3.27
Sep 23,480.00 0.21 207,474.60 1.9
Aug 24,191.30 4.68 182,608.70 2.73

*Information courtesy of Asian Glass and Glass Performance Days.

Manufacture of Flat Glass in Russia (1990–2006)
million Sq.m – 4 mm
Product Name 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Flat Glass Including: 213.7 105.7 112.8 126.1 109.9 110.9 101.4 118.5 124.3 136.1 150.2 136.4 173.4
Vertical Processing Glass 109.5 28.5 30.6 39.3 25.6 24.5 24.2 31.1 31.1 30.1 15.2 8.4 8.4
Float Glass 104.2 77.2 82.2 86.8 84.3 86.4 77.2 87.4 93.2 106 135 128 165
Ante Float Glass, % 48.76 73.04 72.87 68.83 76.71 77.91 76.13 73.73 74.9 77.9 89.9 93.8 95.2

Float-Glass Manufacturers in Russia (2006)
Region Plant Start up Number float lines Capacity th. ton
Moscow region Glaverbel – Klin 16/09/2005 1 220
Pilkington Glass 14/02/2006 1 240
Nizhni Novgorod region Borsk glass plant NA 2 440
Saratov region Saratovstroysteklo NA 2 320
Saratov Glass Institute NA 1 35
Republic of Bashkortostan Salavatsteklo  NA 2 375

Total

9 1630

Information courtesy of the Russian OAO Glass Institute and Union of Glass Enterprises and Glass Performance Days.

U.S. Flat Glass Imports for Consumption 
(In 1,000 Dollars)**
Country Mexico Canada China Germany Japan All Other Total
2002 201,652 168,372 40,427 14,765 22,446 59,812 507,474
2004 269,183 173,258 76,108 15,918 24,041 80,021 638,529
2006 283,272 179,010 110,513 30,411 25,963 104,910 734,079
% Change '02-'06 40.5% 6.3% 173.4% 106% 15.7% 75.4% 44.7%

U.S. Float Glass and Surface Ground or Polished Glass Domestic Exports 
(In 1,000 Dollars)**
Country Canada Columbia China Turkey Saudi Arabia All Other Total
2002 51,669 309 2,568 0 2,678 50,890 108,113
2004 63,481 5,841 4,057 3,260 2,644 42,270 121,553
2006 80,026 7,623 5,921 5,627 4,863 65,431 169,491
% Change '02-'06 54.9% 2,367% 130.6% 81.6% 28.6% 56.8%

U.S. Insulating Glass Domestic Exports 
(In 1,000 Dollars)**
Country Canada Singapore Korea Mexico Thailand All Other Total
2002 19,425 2,044 1,627 1,394 2,628 14,768 41,886
2004 22,735 5,578 1,169 1,595 4,030 8,525 43,632
2006 38,523 5,599 5,491 4,366 2,631 7,369 63,979
% Change '02-'06 98.3% 173.9% 237.5% 213.2% 0.1% -50.1% 52.7%

** Data compiled from tariff and trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

U.S. Laminated Glass Domestic Exports 
(In 1,000 Dollars)**
Country Canada Mexico Japan Germany France All Other Total
2002 56,398 3,033 12,169 18,888 3,722 10,851 105,061
2004 56,713 8,304 11,763 1,077 1,621 16,143 95,621
2006 63,043 15,111 14,384 11,618 7,926 38,313 150,395
% Change '02-'06 11.8% 398.2% 18.2% -38.5% 113% 253% 43.2%

U.S. Laminated Glass Imports 
for Consumption (In 1,000 Dollars)**
Country Canada China United Kingdom Japan Mexico All Other Total
2002 16,595 4,953 1,949 3,990 4,936 8,428 40,851
2004 20,339 5,649 3,702 6,505 6,432 13,355 55,982
2006 25,049 9,043 6,272 6,036 4,149 19,003 69,552
% Change '02-'06 50.9% 82.6% 221.8% 51.3% 4,149 125.5% 70.3%

U.S. Tempered Glass Domestic Exports 
 (In 1,000 Dollars)**
Country Canada Mexico Germany United Kingdom France All Other Total
2002 20,748 13,699 3,477 736 1,797 14,185 54,642
2004 24,228 22,888 5,127 1,456 3,033 9,283 66,015
2006 30,566 21,218 10,804 5,585 3,093 8,291 79,557
% Change '02-'06 47.3% 54.9% 210.7% 658.8% 72.1% -41.6% 45.6%

U.S. Tempered Glass Imports 
 for Consumption (In 1,000 Dollars)**
Country Canada China Columbia Mexico United Kingdom All Other Total
2002 5,571 10,509 3,211 5,627 1,781 6,316 53,015
2004 24,332 17,374 6,963 10,944 1,322 10,171 71,106
2006 30,058 25,612 18,881 8,709 2,859 9,815 95,934
% Change '02-'06 17.5% 143.7% 488% 54.8% 60.5% 55.4% 81%

** Data compiled from tariff and trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. 

 

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