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Construction towers over auto in taking to Saint-Gobain’s glass innovations

Post Time:Oct 16,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:329

Rather than automobiles, it is the construction industry that is more open to using innovative glass products, Saint-Gobain Glass India has found.

 

So much so, the Indian subsidiary of the French multinational has started pitching some of its glass products as substitutes for marble and granite. For instance, at Tril Infopark’s IT Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Chennai, Saint-Gobain has sold a new advanced, lacquered glass as a granite/marble replacement.

 

MARBLE ALTERNATIVE

 

Lacquered glass is easy to install, easy to clean, has a glossy finish, and comes in 16 different colours,” said B. Santhanam, Managing Director, Saint-Gobain Glass India.

 

Tril, according to him, is not comparing this glass with other types of glass, but with marble. “When you go there, you will find yellow, orange and all the bright colours which are preferred now,” he added.

 

The pricing is attractive, as well. A 6-mm thick clear glass, not tempered, costs Rs 40-50 a sq ft; lacquered glass with a five- or 10-year warranty, with anti-fade qualities and that is UV resistant will cost seven to eight times more. This compares reasonably well with marble, which costs Rs 200-300 a sq ft, said Santhanam.

 

The company is supplying electro-chromic glass to a domestic buyer for use in a residential building. This glass, imported from its plant in the US, adapts its light and heat transmission as also its tint to the level of sunlight and the building’s ambient temperature, without affecting external visibility. It significantly reduces the amount of energy consumed for air-conditioning, heating and lighting. It costs Rs 8,000-10,000 a sq ft to install, against Rs 800-1,000 a sq ft of advanced glass that Saint-Gobain sold to one of Infosys’ buildings for use in the façade.

 

Just imagine a (glass) roof over you. It’s like having a cooling glass over you,” remarked Santhanam.

 

The construction industry is slowing down, but its appetite for advanced products is quite good. It is an interesting shift. There is a value shift, not a volume shift,” he observed. In comparison, he does not see a similar value shift in the domestic automobile industry.

 

NO TAKERS

 

Caught as it is in low-priced cars, the automobile industry is not prepared to use some of the advanced glasses, he added. Saint-Gobain makes advanced glasses such as those with rain sensors, or thermal-controlled or sound-absorbing properties.

 

Most of the heat in a parked car is transmitted through the windshield. Saint-Gobain offers a thermo-controlled windshield that prevents heating without affecting transparency.

 

We have a special coating. We can make it here. But no one is willing to pay for that,” Santhanam said. An individual customer may invest in sun-control film for the windshields and windows, which is not as effective as thermo-controlled glass, but the vehicle manufacturers are not willing to spend that money.

 

Saint-Gobain, which has an installed capacity of 1,350 tonnes a day at its Chennai plant, has fully integrated the nearly 600 tonnes a day float line in Gujarat that it acquired from Sezal Glass in 2011.

 

LOW-COST IMPORTS

 

The 1,000 tonnes a day float glass plant at Bhiwadi in Rajasthan, set up at an investment of Rs 950 crore, has been ready for about six months now, but the company has not fired the furnace yet. “We are waiting for the market (to improve),” said Santhanam.

 

Also delaying the launch are imports from Pakistan and West Asia that come at a lower price. The company plans to increase exports, particularly of advanced glass, to Africa. The focus markets for exports will be the Asean region, MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/consAuthor: shangyi

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