The glass industry faces the challenge of ensuring safety, which is complicated by the nature of its work, from the intense heat at the hot end of manufacturing plants to the extreme heights of installation. It is possible, however, if the right safety culture is instilled, training and enforcement are in place, and protective equipment is worn.
In general, safety levels have improved in the Asian glass industry as companies adopt modern standards and better rules and regulations. In an industry in which there is a shortage of skilled labour, there is a growing awareness that lapses and industrial accidents can result in increased costs and decreased competitiveness, in addition to creating negative publicity that negatively affects customer traffic and recruitment.
Unionised labour, which at times has resorted to strikes at some glass companies, has also contributed to the improvement of working conditions. Automated processes reduce worker risk while new sensor and communication technologies, such as wearable electronic devices, offer better monitoring opportunities.
A number of glass companies in the region have developed mechanisms for identifying and assessing hazardous conditions as part of their routine operations. The more advanced ones even penalise key management personnel for failing to meet safety targets or lapses. As he assesses the current situation, Rohan Gunasekara notes with admiration the steps that glass manufacturers and glaziers are taking to improve safety, particularly in an industry known for its high risk of workplace injuries and illnesses.
While raw material costs have risen and inflation persists, Thailand’s glass sector has slowly recovered from the impact of the Russian-Ukraine war and the pandemic. Furthermore, its domestic consumption grew in all sectors, supporting growth in the key industries of the glass industry, construction and packaging. Among the reasons given by Thai packaging glass manufacturers for this positive picture is advanced automation, which helps reduce production costs and improve production processes. According to Jahir Ahmed, this indicates a promising future for a nation that is positively viewed by business leaders for its long-term growth potential in glass manufacturing and exports to its neighbouring countries.
A number of manufacturers of flat glass and packaging can benefit from South East Asia’s macro-trends, particularly solar glass, as renewable energy is increasingly being used in this region. In addition, automotive glass is anticipated to grow rapidly, as more countries produce automobiles, particularly electric vehicles. In the region, collaborative initiatives are emerging, such as those under the ASEAN Federation of Glass Manufacturers (AFGM), particularly in relation to the decarbonisation of the industry. For instance, AFGM, which recognises that glass production is an energy-intensive process with significant greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, is reviewing various options to achieve a net zero environment. The efforts made by organisations like AGFM, in Rohan Gunasekera’s opinion, are a step in the right direction and can only be a benefit to the region in the long-run as well as in the short-term.
Inside the current issue
News, views, raw materials, comment and much, much more!
See us at:
Milan, Italy| 5-8 September 2023
Mumbai, India|14-16 September 2023
Eurasia Glass Fair
Istanbul, Turkey|11-15 November 2023
Mumbai, India | 23-26 November 2023