glasstec 2006 Opens with Optimistic Industry-Wide
glasstec 2006--The 19th International Trade Fair for Machinery, Equipment,
Application and Products-took place last week (October 24-28) at
Messe Dusseldorf in Germany. Thousands of glass professionals from
around the globe traveled to the five-day event looking for the
latest developments and innovations for all facets of the glass
industry, from flat glass to hollow glass.
Last Monday, while exhibitors busily prepared for the show's opening
the next day, representatives of Messe Dusseldorf and the international
glass industry shared optimistic views of the industry during an
opening press conference.
Joachim Schäfer, managing director of Messe Dusseldorf Gmbh,
opened the conference by talking about how glasstec has grown, and
expectations for future growth.
"This is the 19th fair [glasstec] and the biggest ever,"
he said. "The display area exceeds 63,000 square meters, a
new record, and there are more than 315 new exhibitors-that's nearly
10 percent more exhibitors and 50 percent more space," he said.
Schafer talked about the diversity and innovation that glass affords
the architectural industry and how glasstec is able to be a source
of the product's growth.
"We're delighted to post the biggest international exhibition
and we're looking to the future and being at the pulse of the sector
to identify the current trends
we want to be the complete
value chain [and a] resource [for the industry]."
He also talked about the growth of architectural glass in applications
ranging from glass buildings and facades to interior applications.
"The multiple design options of glass facades are made possible
only because of new developments in systems and technology,"
he said. "The multi-functionality of glass constantly acquires
new perspectives, and it is amazing to see how many different functions
a single glass item can have."
Siegfried Glaser, chairperson of the Forum Glastechnik at VDMA (The
German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers' Association), and chair
of the glasstec exhibitors' board, next spoke about some of the
changes and advancements in glass processing machinery and how equipment
is being produced to address growing trends in glass usage.
"The trend is toward high-quality, special glass," he
said. "The developing focus is on increasingly thinner glass."
Glaser showed samples of paper-thin glass products that have been
created to illustrate this shift. He said there was also a constant
growing demand for glass products such as safety glass, fire-rated
glass and other specialty glass products.
"German manufacturers are leading in the field of high-tech
plants for making high-quality special glass," he said, adding
that currently German companies are primarily positioned to supply
the international glass market with production systems to manufacturer
and fabricate these high-quality, special glasses.
Glaser also talked about how German glass machinery manufacturers
are currently doing very well financially. He said the industry's
sales increased 57 percent domestically and 5 percent abroad over
the first eight months of this year compared to the same period
in 2005. He said the VDMA also expects turnover growth to level
out at a "good double-digit figure" by the end of this
Regarding export growth for German machinery manufacturers, this
is also doing well, accounting for 77 percent of business. Glaser
said right now a hot market is the Middle East, where for the first
six months of this year orders from the region quadrupled compared
to the same period last year.
India and Eastern Europe also remained strong, but demand from China
was on the decline. In 2006 the United States was still the largest
Providing insight into the state of Germany's glazing industry,
Martin Nagel, president of glasstec 2006 and federal master of the
German Glaziers' Guild, was the next presenter. He described the
trade as being "carefully optimistic," with a push toward
being more energy efficient.
"We see a great benefit in energy-saving glass," Nagel
said. "The awareness has grown these last few years."
Renovation and upgrading is another income generator. Nagel said
that currently 26 million residential units are not up-to-date when
it comes to energy efficiency-that's 500 million square meters of
Nagel explained that 86 percent of glaziers in Germany today provide
window installation services, as well as a host of others, including
services for all-glass facilities, profile glazing, framing and
more; solar technology will be the next area in which the trade
is headed. That means the buzzword of the industry is training.
"The concept of life-long learning will maintain a prominent
position in the German glazier trade," he said. "The training
and professional development centers of the German glazier trade
ensure that the level of education will be maintained."
Nagel explained that these schools train apprentices in the areas
of glazing, refining, glass painting and glass appliance construction.
Dr. Johann Overath, managing director of the Federal Association
of the Glas Industry (BV Glas), was the conference's final speaker,
who provided "glass industry optimism" for the different
sectors of the industry.
"After receding sales in the past year the German glass industry
is looking ahead again with optimism," he said. "The trough
has been passed, inquiries from abroad are increasing and the economic
climate in Germany has slightly improved," he said.
Overath said sales volume for the first six months of 2006 increased
5.5 percent; order volumes saw a 7.1-percent increase, the majority
of which was for markets outside Germany.
Specifically, companies producing flat glass saw a 22-percent sales
growth, of which 28 percent was for abroad markets. Specialty glass
and technical glazing also have been improving. Compared to last
year, foreign sales increased by 12.3 percent; domestic sales, however,
are still low, though orders are starting to increase.
As far as 2007 and the future, Overath expects the markets to continue
improving, as new developments, such as photovoltaics and solar
thermal technologies, are "reviving the market."