1. Tell us about your organization, its products and plants?

AGI glaspac, a Division of HSIL Ltd (HSIL), was established in the year 1972 and was formerly known as Associated Glass Industries Ltd. It was taken over by HSIL in June 1981. The management has invested about Rs.800 crores since takeover of the Business towards upgradation of technology and modernization of facilities, brown field and green field expansions by dint of which it achieved the position of second largest manufacturer of glass containers in the country. The Glass Business achieved a turnover of about Rs.900 crores for the year 2016-17 and can proudly claim to having set up one of the best manufacturing facilities in the country for container glassware. The company has the unique distinction of having the Certifications conforming to the following International standards.

1. ISO 9001 for Quality
2. ISO 14001 for Environmental Management
3. OSHAS 18001 for Occupational Health & Safety
4. FSSC 22000 for GMP and Food Safety
5. ISO 15378 for GMP and Medical Safety

AGI glaspac has melting capacity of 1600 TPD, and operates two Furnaces with a total manufacturing capacity of 600 tons/day at Hyderabad, and two Furnaces with 500 tons/day capacity each in Bhongir, covering a wide range of Flint, Amber and Green containers catering to the bottling requirements of wide spectrum of industrial segments namely Food, Beverages, Pharma and Spirits. The company has a large number of reputed multinational and Indian customers such as, Coca Cola, PEPSI, Glaxo Smithline, Pfizer, Cipla, Global Green Co. Ltd, Dr.Reddy’s Labs, Aurobindo Pharma etc. AGI glaspac also exports the glass containers to various customers in North America, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Europe. The major export customers are Amexim inc., Los Angeles, PZ Cussons International U.K., Arichem Ltd, Kenya, Gamma Pharmaceuticals, Zambia, Dabour International, Dubai, Al-kaid Soft Drinks, Yemen, Silkway products, Jordan, Glaxo Smithline Ltd, Phillipines and Mutual Foods Ltd, Bangladesh.

2. How has Indian/global glass bottle Industry evolved over the years? What is the strength and threat perception of the industry?

Container Glass Industry came into existence in India in the beginning of 1900s. The Industry had grown at a very slow pace till 50s due to multiple reasons such as absence of market on account of poor economic condition of majority population, slow pace of mineral exploration pertinent to Glass Industry, lack of technology and poor infrastructure etc. By 60s many Entrepreneurs sensed big potential in Glass Packaging business and started manufacturing facilities for production of Glass Containers, mostly through indigenously developed know how.

However, growth of Container Glass Industry continued to be sluggish, as the Country’s economy started faltering. Inspite of slow growth, Container Glass Industry entered into a spate of foreign Technical Collaborations and Joint Ventures in 70s & 80s ushering in of modern technology in the areas of Batch preparation, Furnace designs and glass melting practices, and high speed bottle making and Quality Control. Unfortunately, some of these ventures were not financially successful due to deficiencies in technology transfer, poor adaption of technology, high cost of operations, lack of trained manpower, management inadequacies etc. This situation resulted in some of the companies becoming sick which also coincided with excess capacity and poor demand for Glass Containers.

Fortunately, Economic Reforms of 1991 had a great positive impact on the rapid growth of glass industry. As the Reforms ended the country’s economic stagnation, industries such as LIQUOR, FOOD, PHARMACEUTICALS, SOFT DRINKS, experienced double digit growth. This trend helped Container Glass Industry achieve healthy growth, as most of these segments use glass packaging. At the same time Container Glass Industry has gone through a phase of expansion, consolidation, and product diversification.

Environmental superiority and premium perception of glass packaging continue to be the industry’s strength, which is reflected in the industry growing at an average of 10-12% continuously.

1. Industry is currently facing CHALLENGES such as;
2. Large increase in the number of manufacturers especially in the medium scale sector.
3. High oil and LPG price and RLNG / NG price.
4. High transportation cost
5. High Mining costs
6. Non-availability of skilled Man-power
7. Continuous upward increase in power tariff by most State Governments
8. Large depreciation of Rupee.

3. Is current supply meeting the demands of market? If not, how is this shortfall being met?

Glass is preferred packaging for Soft Drinks, Food, Beer, Liquor & Wine, cosmetics and perfumery. On account of investment in state of the art technology, Container Glass Industry is able to meet the user’s stringent quality standards which are at par with international specifications. Liquor & Beer consume about 70% of industry output. Wine, Soft Drinks, Food, Cosmetics and pharmaceuticals etc. consume balance 30% of capacity. Currently the demand supply situation is very well balanced.

4. Is Indian industry adapting and investing new technology of bottle making vis-à-vis western countries?

Container Glass Industry is continuously investing in green field and brown field expansions adapting state of the art technology with major chunk of the investment going into Batch House, Furnace, I.S.Machines and Cold End. Most of these upgradation is a result of collaboration with International Glass Equipment and design suppliers such as SORG, HORN for Furnace, Zippee for Batch House, Emhart & Bottero for I.S. Machines, and Emhart, MSC-SGCC, and IRIS for Cold End Inspection Equipments. Indian Refractory Industry currently produces world class refractories which enable Furnace life increase by 40% compared to Furnace life achieved in 1990’s. SEPR, OCL, Carborandum, Maithan Ceramics, Associated Ceramics are some of the leading refractory manufacturers’ in the country for Electrocast, Silica, Mullite Andalusite, Siliminate, Alumina (upto 60%) refractories. Glass Industry during past one decade extensively worked towards glass weight reduction to the extent of 30% through introduction of advanced I.S. Machines, Forehearths and other Control systems.

5. With lot of new foreign Alcobev and non alcoholic beverage companies coming to Indian shores, how do you see their presence will help local glass bottle manufacturers?

The Container Glass Industry is projected to have a melting capacity of 10,000 tons/day in the next 2-3 years, with South, North & West regions contributing about 3000 tpd each and East and other regions contributing about 1000 tpd. In the recent past large capacity addition upto 1000 tons has taken place in Firozabad , U.P. with Furnace capacities range from 50 tons to 250 tons/day. The Technology and quality levels in this area also improved considerably. Similar trend is foreseen in the Western region especially in Gujarat area due to availability of Natural Gas. The industry is completely geared technology-wise to cater to the requirements of new foreign Alcobev and non alcoholic beverage companies coming to Indian shores. The arrival of these companies will further compel industry to adopt latest production technology such as NNPB, advanced Blow and Blow Light weighting technology. Recent practice of coating container glass at hot end and cold end to ensure high strength of containers will also help industry to be competitive. With these technological up-gradation in place, Glass Industry is largely geared up to take up the challenges.

6. What is your opinion on reuse of glass bottles? Is it safe in terms of hygiene?

Re-use is not recommended of those glass bottles especially having intricate shapes and which are not specifically designed for getting effectively cleaned. They would not be hygienic as it is very difficult to clean such bottles which are not designed for re-use. Some of the bottles designed for re-use are Beer bottles and Softdrink bottles. These industries have installed World class exclusive lines for cleaning of returned bottles. Most of these lines have Automatic Electronic Machines for detection of defective ware.

7. In Canada, one-third of the liquor is now sold in plastic bottles. PET is catching up in India also. Is it a threat to the bottle industry?

In the Indian context some of the Alcobev and non alcoholic beverage and Food companies have tried to use PET containers in the face of shortage of Glass bottles in the past. However Consumer resistance has forced some of these packs to revert to glass packaging. As such the container glass industry does not see a big threat from the plastic bottles especially the liquor segment.

8. In a debate between PET vs glass bottles, what arguments can you offer in favour of glass?

Glass is always preferable by virtue of its unique characteristics such as; 1. One hundred percent recyclability 2. Integrity of the product it holds 3. Premium perception when packed in glass 4. Does not change the taste of the packed material Etc.

9. The glass industry has a long standing demand of implementation of BIS standards across the sector. Do you see it being fulfilled this time?

As glass is used for packaging most consumer products, where the designs have to be changed very frequently to meet the customer tastes and expectations, standardization of shapes is not possible across the sectors.

10. What are the major challenges before the glass bottles manufacturers and is something being done to correct the situation?

Large increase in the number of manufacturers especially in the medium scale sector.

1. High oil and LPG price
2. High transportation cost
3. High Mining costs
4. Non-availability of skilled Man-power
5. Continuous upward increase in power tariff by most State Governments
6. Large depreciation of Rupee.

To correct the situation glass industry is aggressively investing in the state of the art energy efficient Furnaces and also high speed fully automatic bottle making machines. Industry is also investing heavily for light weighting the containers and also in the quality control equipment such as automatic check detectors, Camera machines. Companies are also investing extensively in automation of bottle packing at the Cold end to bring down labour cost and improve quality.