Global Glass Manufacturers Respond to Demand With Expansions, Closures

Three glass manufacturers with plants in Europe have made moves to expand or reduce their production capacity based on recent changes in demand. Guardian Glass has opened a new facility in Poland and Şişecam has added a second furnace to its Polath facility in Ankara, Turkey. On the other hand, AGC Glass Europe intends to shut down a furnace at its plant in Boussois, France.

New Guardian Facility

To help meet the growing demand for high performance coated and fabricated glass products in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe, Guardian Glass completed the first ribbon pull at its second float glass facility in Częstochowa, Poland, in September. This completes the plant’s startup, which began with the groundbreaking in 2018 and led to the start of the plant’s new glass coater on July 6, 2020.

“The new float line is the largest in the Guardian family of float lines,” says Guus Boekhoudt, Guardian Glass executive vice president. “We’ve implemented an innovative new furnace design with high efficiency combustion systems in order to provide products that meet the stringent quality requirements of our customers, while minimizing both the energy used for production and emissions from the process.”

The plant, which has two float lines, two coater lines and a lamination line, produces Guardian ExtraClear float glass, ClimaGuard low-E and SunGuard solar control coated glass products as well as laminated glass.

“The Częstochowa plant represents our biggest greenfield capital investment in Guardian’s history,” says Boekhoudt. “This facility is the company’s most efficient and operationally effective plant and houses our largest furnace and largest coater. The new float line has a nominal capacity of 1,000 metric tons of glass per day, while the new coater represents the latest in technology for Guardian and, we believe, for the industry.”

Şişecam Adds Furnace

Şişecam increased the annual capacity of its flat glass manufacturing facility in the Polath district of Ankara, Turkey to 240,000 tons by adding a second furnace. This investment will expand the company’s production capacity in line with higher demand in the market there. Şişecam’s new furnace, with an investment cost of approximately $130 million, was commissioned on October 2, 2020.

In addition, a bell-ringing ceremony was held for Şişecam on Borsa Istanbul (the Istanbul Stock Exchange). The company recently completed the largest merger ever registered in the Turkish capital markets.

“… Our facility in Polatlı has reached an annual production capacity of 540,000 tons with this new investment. As a result, this facility has become one of the largest flat glass production bases in Europe,” says Şişecam vice chairman and CEO Ahmet Kırman. “We now operate eight flat glass furnaces in Turkey. Şişecam total flat glass production capacity has climbed to 3.4 million tons per year. As a result, we have further bolstered our leadership in flat glass production in Europe.”

Kırman points out that Şişecam operated the largest flat glass furnace in Turkey and the nearby region with an annual capacity of 300,000 tons when the Polath flat glass production facility was first commissioned in 2014.

AGC to Shut Down Furnace

AGC Glass Europe intends to shut down one of its two float glass furnaces in Boussois, France, in the near future. Plant management attributes this decision to the generalized, structural decline in demand for glass. This furnace has been on hot hold since April 1 of this year. This decision forms part of an overall plan aimed at restoring competitiveness, according to the company.

“After operating on a market with overcapacity due to stagnant demand and the startup of new glass production plants, the group is now feeling the full impact of the health emergency and associated economic crisis which is affecting the two main sectors of glass consumption, namely the construction and automotive industries,” reads a company statement. “This has led to acute overcapacity, falling prices and a marked deterioration
in the group’s result overall. In the absence of prospects for recovery in the medium term, and despite the remarkable efforts towards productivity and diversification made by all the Boussois personnel, the group sees itself forced to bring its manufacturing capacity into line with the current market situation.”

This closure will lead to a loss of 90 out of 220 jobs.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.