Float glass giant Saint-Gobain wants to develop India as a manufacturing hub to cater to Africa, Middle-East and ASEAN markets
Saint-Gobain India, a subsidiary of Paris-based Saint-Gobain, is looking to ramp up its capacity in the glass segment to cater to rising demand in the south-east Asian market. The company has recently announced investment of about Rs 1,000 crore over the next two years for setting up a new float glass and magnetron coater plant in India. Further, the company has also inaugurated an R&D centre in Chennai, which will focus on developing innovative and sustainable solutions for Saint-Gobain’s existing businesses.
Detailing the capex plan, B Santhanam, president – flat glass (South Asia, Malaysia & Egypt) and managing director of Saint-Gobain India informs, “In line with the Prime Minister’s call for ‘Make in India’, combined with the opportunities for sustainable glass solutions in the overseas market, Saint-Gobain will be investing an additional Rs 1,000 crore to expand the World Glass Complex in Sriperumbudur, Chennai.” He states that the new capacities in the coating line would go on stream in 2017 and the float glass line in 2018.
The upcoming float glass plant will be the third on the site and will be equipped to manufacture a wide range of complex products that cater to needs of sustainable habitat and affordable luxury. “The plant will feature several innovative processes and will focus on developing sustainable solutions for Saint-Gobain’s existing businesses that are being deployed for the first time in India and the region,” Santhanam says, adding that the facility would be a benchmark for green manufacturing practices. “Keeping in mind the global trends, we are investing in a second magnetron coater facility and will increase the total capacity to 144 million sft.”
Having entered the Indian market in 1996, Saint-Gobain set-up its first float glass plant in 2000 at Sriperumbudur, Chennai with an investment of about Rs 500 crore. Since then it has rapidly grown into the manufacturing hub termed World Glass Complex with a cumulative investment of about Rs 2,000 crore. “These investments have helped the facility grow into an integrated international-quality, innovative manufacturing site which produces end-to-end glass solutions for customers in architectural and automotive segments in India and export markets,” Santhanam adds.
He further informs that the facility now has two float glass lines with a total capacity of 1,500 tonnes a day; mirror and lacquer line of 50 million sft; and a magnetron coater of 60 million sft for the construction industry. It also makes 1.2 million sets of automotive glass annually. Saint-Gobain has dedicated the World Glass Complex not just to the Indian sub-continent but to the entire Africa, Middle-East and ASEAN markets.
Further, to streamline the company’s focus on sustainability and develop products as per market demand, the company has inaugurated a state-of-the-art research centre at IIT-Madras Research Park in Chennai. With an investment of Rs 200 crore, the new Research Centre is a world-class R&D facility spread over 120,000 sft. “Unique to this Centre will be its focus on establishing multi-comfort in buildings as well as affordable housing and new competencies that will enable it to develop sustainable habitat solutions for hot and humid climates including the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Africa,” adds Anand Mahajan, general delegate, Saint-Gobain – India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Overall, the company has invested over Rs 3,500 crore and deepened its presence in the Indian flat glass market. Besides the facility at Tamil Nadu, the company acquired an existing plant in Jhagadia, Gujarat in May 2011 and also invested in a greenfield facility in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan in 2014, thus creating a pan-India manufacturing presence. And, with these new investments the company wants to strengthen its hold and accelerate growth in the region.