GW: What does it mean to you to be President of the Japan Glass Bottle Association (JGBA)?
I joined the JGBA in 2004 as a member of the Steering Committee and am currently serving my second term as President, having initially carried out the role for a two year period in 2013.
Ishizuka Glass has been a member of the JGBA since its establishment in 1952 and I believe that the role of President is to take a positive lead for the glass bottle industry in Japan. The position of President rotates every two years with a representative from Ishizuka Glass, Nihon Yamamura Glass and Toyo Glass.
With authority related to the general management of the association as a decision-making body, the Board of JGBA Directors appoints a President, Vice President and Executive Director.
GW: What do you consider to be the primary objectives of the JGBA?
As an industrial association of glass bottle manufacturers, the JGBA aims to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives, enhancing the business of glass bottle manufacturing and related industries and also innovating technology related to the industry.
Under the Board of Directors and Steering Committee that acts as an advisory body, six committees carry out activities to create solutions on various issues and facilitate the organic growth of the industry. The direction of JGBA’s business operations is based on public relations and environmental activities, as well as other actions carried out by the individual committees.
Recent initiatives include increasing public awareness of the value of glass bottles by communication and education and also the collection and provision of market information.
GW: How does the JGBA co-operate with other glass associations around the world?
The JGBA interacts directly with FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation, for example. In addition, we have traditionally shared good relations with the Glass Packaging Institute in the USA and hope to re-establish that relationship to explore mutual opportunities.
GW: How important to Ishizuka Glass is membership to the JGBA?
I consider benefits of the JGBA membership to include:
• Access to various market-led information related to the glass bottle industry.
• Participation in workshops and lecture seminars etc.
• Networking with fellow members by participating at association events.
• Participating in public relations activities.
• Various environmental activities (the ‘Three R’s’, CO2 reduction etc).
• Sharing of labour information.
• Improvement of logistics efficiency.
• Activities for technology transfer (craftsmanship).
• Activities as an intermediary between our own company and related government authorities.
GW: What is your background with the Ishizuka Glass Group?
I joined the company in 1997 and following a spell as a Director, President and COO of the Glass Bottle Company of Ishizuka Glass Group, I was appointed Representative Director and President in 2013, with responsibility for all business segments and the general management of the Ishizuka Glass Group’s subsidiaries and affiliated companies.
GW: What position does your company currently hold in the Japanese glass industry?
Having celebrated its 200th anniversary last year, the company was founded in Kani City, Gifu by Iwasaburo Ishizuka, who had learned about glass production technology from a Dutchman in Nagasaki prefecture. From the 1880s, the main produce was glass bottles before expansion in 1960 into the areas of plastic containers, paper packaging, PET preforms for PET bottles and functional glasses (anti-microbial agents). Also, Narumi Corp, the manufacturer of fine bone china known as the brand of Narumi, became a subsidiary in 2015. As a result of this diversification, glass bottles account for approximately 25% of the company’s sales, with customers mainly from the alcohol and food industries.
With a market position of third place in the domestic market for glass bottles and second position in the alcoholic beverage sector, the company has approximately 2500 employees on a consolidated basis in Japan and approximately 800 employees on a non-consolidated basis.
GW: Where are Ishizuka’s manufacturing facilities located and what capabilities do they provide?
With a total annual production capacity of 150,000-160,000 tonnes, we operate two furnaces at both of our glass bottle production factories, located in Iwakura City, Aichi prefecture and Himeji City, Hyogo prefecture. In addition, we operate secondary processing facilities involved, for example, in printing, shrink film wrapping and polymer coating.
GW: What are the highlights of recent investment initiatives and how do suppliers of technology assist with maximising your production efficiencies?
The cold repair of one of the furnaces at the Himeji plant was recently completed.
In general, planning and conceptual furnace design (technical investigation, market survey, running cost simulation, the colour of glass, throughput, lifetime of furnace etc) are undertaken by the engineering division within our company and the detailed design and construction of furnaces are carried out by leading manufacturers such as AGC Ceramics and Ihara Furnace.
Both of our glass bottle and glass tableware facilities are coexisting and for forming equipment, we utilise state-of-the-art technology from Bottero Glass Technologies and Bucher Emhart Glass (for bottles) and Forma Glas, Ishizuka Machine Techno and Olivotto Glass Technologies (for tableware), with lehrs from Nissin Engineering. Inspection equipment is sourced from such suppliers as Nihon Yamamura Glass, Toyo Glass Machinery, Ishizuka Machine Techno, N-Tech and Kirin Techno-System. Caser and bulk palletisers are from Gunze and Fuji Yusoki Kogyo, while decoration/coating technology is from Koenig & Bauer Kammann GmbH and Techno-Tsukihoshi.
GW: How would you describe prevailing market conditions in Japan?
Since the shipping volume of glass bottles has been consistently decreasing in the Japanese market, a major issue for the whole glass bottle industry is how to revive demand. With our diversified packaging business segments, Ishizuka has the benefit of being able to differentiate ourselves.
Our philosophy of ‘Master the secrets of glass and advance into new fields’ has led to the development and commercialisation of functional glass by exploring new possibilities to complement our bottle and tableware activities.
GW: What are the main activities of the Advanced Glass Company?
Ishizuka consists of specialised companies, working together to fully share the knowhow of making glass materials, as well as containers and tableware. In our Advanced Glass Company, inorganic glass biocides ‘IONPURE’ have been developed, using our extensive technological knowledge of glass attained from our traditional businesses.
IONPURE has the advantages of high functionality (anti-microbial efficacy, transparency), excellent cost performance and safety. It is appropriate for various applications such as moulded articles, fibres and coatings.
Image: Hisatsugu Ishizuka (centre) is pictured here alongside JGBA dignitaries and Glass Worldwide’s Dave Fordham.