Volume 47, Issue 2 - February 2012


Bystronic Glass to Reorganize, Cut Positions, Partners with Hegla

Bystronic Glass will close facilities and cut jobs to keep ahead of the economic downturn, according to a January 10 company news release. The architectural glass cutting facility in Bützberg, Switzerland, will cease operation. The engineering, manufacture and sale of machines for this sector are expected to stop at the end of next month. The service support and replacement parts for existing plants will continue to be offered.

The engineering, sale, assembly and servicing of machines and plants for the pre-processing of automotive glass will continue at the Bützberg location.

Bystronic Armatec GmbH, which produces laminated glass, handling equipment and some solar technologies, will relocate from Gunzenhausen, Germany, to Neuhausen-Hamberg, Germany, to become part of Bystronic Lenhardt GmbH by mid-2012. Bystronic Lenhardt produces insulating glass technologies and manufactures TPS® multilayer solar units.

As a result of the reorganization, the operational headquarter of the Bystronic Glass Group will relocate from Switzerland to Germany. In addition, the planned reorganization is expected to cut up to 60 positions at Bystronic Maschinen AG in Bützberg, and relocate up to 60 positions at Bystronic Armatec GmbH from Gunzenhausen to Neuhausen-Hamberg.

Along with the reorganization, Bystronic Glass will partner with the German glass machine manufacturer Hegla to work together on products and marketing. The companies will treat each other as preferred partners and join forces when dealing with customers who commission large-scale projects.

“The insecure economic prospects have diminished the willingness of many customers to invest or replace,” says André Brütsch, CEO of Bystronic Glass. “This has had a very negative impact upon our incoming orders for an extended period of time now.”

In addition, global overcapacity in the laminated glass business section also has had its effect, according to information from the company. In combination with falling glass prices, this led to a simultaneous high level of cost pressure and drop in margins throughout the entire sector and at Bystronic Glass.

“The competition for each order is extremely high and the margins are correspondingly unsatisfactory,” Brütsch says. “In order to remain competitive, we must reduce our prices at the expense of our yield.”

The strong Swiss Franc has also lead to competitive disadvantages, especially for Bystronic Maschinen AG in Bützberg, which operates out of Switzerland. Over the course of the last 18 months, the prices of the export products have risen by approximately 15 percent solely as a result of the exchange rate development.

AGC, Interpane Enter into Strategic Alliance
AGC Glass Europe has purchased a controlling interest in the German glass manufacturer Interpane. AGC Glass Europe will control 51 percent of the company.

The two companies will develop mutually complementary processing activities in terms of geographical scope and product specialties. Through the alliance with Interpane, AGC will gain an industrial presence, mainly in the German flat glass market, and aim to strengthen its position in glass coatings by offering new glass functions in building, solar and automotive applications.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary merger control clearance by competition authorities.

Guardian Expands United Kingdom Plant with New Coater
Guardian Industries in Auburn Hills, Mich., will expand its float glass plant in Goole, England, with the addition of a new coating machine for the manufacture of energy-efficient glass for commercial and residential applications.
Construction has already begun on the $48 million USD (30 million GBP) project that is expected to create 50 new jobs when it is completed in the fourth quarter of 2012.

“The drive by the U.K. government to save energy has resulted in raising energy efficiency standards for both new and replacement windows for residential and commercial buildings,” says Scott Thomsen, president of the global Guardian Glass Group. “Further improvements are already planned through 2020 that will demand even more energy-efficient glass.”

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