Reorganization at Bystronic Glass Garners Differing Opinions
January 24, 2012

by Sahely Mukerji,

The recent reorganization of Bystronic glass in Germany is not necessarily a good sign for the glass machinery industry, industry professionals say.

"This is a bad news for our industry, "says Renata Gaffo, director of Vitrum in Italy. "It means that the market has been static for a long time. It's a bad signal that an historical company of our sector goes through these difficulties."

On this side of the pond, glass professionals agree. "The market for fabrication machinery continues to decrease as the Unites States glass industry becomes more focused on custom 'just in time' deliveries," says Douglas Mangus, machinery sales director of Salem Distributing Co. in Winston-Salem, N.C. "Many factors, mainly offshore 'low' cost manufacturing, have changed the scope of the mass production part of the industry."

As part of it reorganization, Bystronic glass will close its architectural glass cutting facility in Bützberg, Switzerland. The engineering, manufacture and sale of machines for this sector are expected to stop at the end of March 2012. The company will partner with the German glass machine manufacturer Hegla to offer architectural glass cutting machines. The companies will treat each other as preferred partners and join forces when dealing with customers who commission large-scale projects.

"This is a two-edged sword," Mangus says. "Fewer players will make for less competitors, but on the other side, will force all of the players to become more competitive for every bid."

Currently, Bystronic glass is in dialogue with Hegla "with the aim to cooperate regarding products in the [worldwide] market," says André Brütsch, CEO of Bystronic glass. "The conversation is held constructively by both partners. A letter of intent is existing but the precise arrangement is not defined yet.

"Since our customers know us as a full-range supplier of system solutions for the manufacturing of architectural glass, we can envisage offering Hegla machinery for architectural glass cutting, " Brütsch says. "In return Hegla would complete its portfolio with our products for IG and laminated glass manufacturing. Therefore, Bystronic glass is still in a position to act as a full-range supplier for the manufacturing of architectural glass."

Hegla and Bystronic glass have worked well together in the past, says Thomas A. Bechill, sales manager at Hegla North America in Forest Park, Ga., "and in light of Bystronic [glass]'s exit from the manufacture of architectural cutting equipment, this partnership will allow both companies to focus on and combine their core competencies. … We view this as a natural progression for both companies to better serve the industry."

As far as the effects of this reorganization and merger on the North American glass machinery industry is concerned, "99 percent of our machinery comes from Europe … I am unsure as to the effect of the few North American machinery manufactures," Mangus says.

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