A trail-glazer in the Indian glass industry

A trail-glazer in the Indian glass industry

Mr B Santhanam, Managing Director at Saint-Gobain India Pvt Ltd, describes the origins, present-day activities and prospects for Saint-Gobain’s glass business in the dynamic Indian market. The full version of this article appears in the July/Aug issue *.

Saint-Gobain entered the Indian market in 1996. Subsequently, with a cumulative investment of over INR7500 crores, with 2018 sales in excess of INR 7000 crores, 6000 employees (2000 in the glass business alone) and 23 manufacturing sites, India has become a key market for the group, so much so that it is identified as a standalone region in its global operations.

What has stood the company in good stead is a friendly industrial climate, growing impetus by the national government to ‘Make-in-India’, skilled labour and a persistent demand for its innovative products. In fact, 90% of the group’s sales in India are manufactured locally. Furthermore, with a pan-India dealer network and smart advertising strategies that ensure a strong connect with the final consumer, the brand recall of Saint-Gobain in India has been known to be as good as that in France. (Continued on page 68).

Extensive manufacturing expertise

The Saint-Gobain India – Glass Business started operations in 2000 with the commissioning of its first float glass plant at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. Today, Saint-Gobain is considered a strong technology and market leader, shaping the industry with a country-wide manufacturing footprint and plants in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, Jhagadia, Gujarat (acquired in May 2011) and Bhiwadi, Rajasthan (a greenfield investment in March 2014).

In south India, the ‘World Glass Complex’ of Saint-Gobain at Sriperumbudur, near Chennai is spread over a campus of 177 acres. It houses three float lines and two state-of-the-art advanced magnetron coater lines, scalable to 140 million ft2 and delivering high performance, high selective, energy efficient glass to the building industry. The site also features automotive processing lines for 1.3 million car sets annually, a solar control reflective glass manufacturing facility to produce on-line coated glass for residential markets, a 50 million ft2 state-of-the-art mirror processing line that is capable of making eco-friendly (copper-free and lead-free) mirrors and lacquered glass for interior applications and a state-of-the-art glass solutions facility for fire safety, bullet proof, blast proof, advanced marine applications and insulated and laminated glazing.

The World Glass Complex includes two rain water harvesting reservoirs with a combined capacity of 130 million litres, whereby 100% of the water requirement of the third and latest float glass facility will be met from this mammoth capacity. There is also an innovative ‘Urban Forest’ initiative that will house 100,000 native trees by the end of 2019, with 74,000 trees already planted.

In north India, the ‘World Glass Complex’ of Saint-Gobain at Bhiwadi represents an investment of over INR 1000 crores and is spread over a campus of 136 acres with a built-up area of 1.14 lac m2. It houses a float glass manufacturing line and a laminated glass line for automotive requirements. The plant is a fully automated, futuristic (with state-of-the-art robotics), integrated glass facility featuring several innovative features that were deployed for the first time in the Indian glass industry. The strategic location makes the facility easily accessible to the entire glass market of north India.

And in west India, a brownfield manufacturing complex at Jhagadia houses a separate float line. It serves the entire western region of India and will soon expand into manufacturing high value-added products.

Product range

From its basic clear glass that is synonymous with being invisible, Saint-Gobain’s glazing products include tinted glass, eco-friendly mirrors, Sun Ban solar control glass for residential window glazing, the Infinity range of high performance exterior glass solutions for commercial applications, the Inspire range of interior glass solutions that span a wide offering of lacquered glass and Plug n Play LED mirrors etc.

The Vetrotech range of safety and security solutions is offered for fire safety, bullet and blast resistant applications and interactive glass applications like Priva-LITE (a glass that transforms from transparent to translucent with the flick of a switch), along with dynamic glass like SageGlass (an electrochromic glass that tints automatically) and the entire portfolio of automotive glass (Sekurit).

Diverse presence

Saint-Gobain’s presence permeates everyday life with a suite of offerings, designed to ensure wellbeing at home, at work, in educational institutions and on the move, in the form of automotive glazing. The group’s flat glass products and solutions cater to domains that include but are not restricted to hospitality, healthcare, institutions, residential, commercial, retail, recreational, public spaces and transportation/mobility hubs etc.

Research

Research is recognised as the key to driving innovation. Saint-Gobain Research India (SGRI), located at the IIT-M Research Park in Chennai, is the group’s seventh Transversal Global Research and Development Centre. With more than 100 scientists, SGRI is working towards creating products and developing frugal customised solutions for hot and humid climates, while addressing the challenges of sustainability.

In a very short span of time, the group’s global R&D network in collaboration with local academic and ecosystem partners, has generated over 65 patents and 36 design registrations.

Sustainability

As a world leader in sustainable habitat solutions, Saint-Gobain offers a large range of building materials that help save more energy than it takes to produce them. Saint-Gobain has strategically focused on transforming all its products to contribute to sustainability and energy conservation. The result is the largest range of EPD-certified products for buildings being made locally available in India.

Today, every eight out of 10 green buildings in India is by Saint-Gobain. Saint-Gobain believes that being sustainable is being smart and walks its sustainability talk. The corporate office of Saint-Gobain Glass in Chennai, for example, is LEED-Gold certified and recertified. This is an honour that only a handful of workplaces across the world have achieved.

The last word

For more than 350 years, Saint-Gobain has been an integral part of living and working spaces across the globe. As the world leader in habitat, it has brought significant value to built environments everywhere. As a top employer in 31 countries (and the first time in India), the group is constantly working to make a difference to the world. Drawing from its passion to be the best in all that it does, Saint-Gobain India – Glass Business has taken a leaf from the group’s book to not just continue on the same path to progress but lead from the front and be a trail-glazer!

About the Author: 

Mr B Santhanam is Managing Director at Saint-Gobain India Pvt Ltd

Further Information: 

Saint-Gobain India Pvt Ltd, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
web: www.in.saint-gobain-glass.com

* The full version of this article appears in the July/August issue, alongside a series of exclusive interviews with industry figureheads, topical market reports and technology updates. Subscribe now to receive the full paper and digital versions (subscribers receive a free copy of the Who’s Who / Annual Review yearbook!).