A pioneer in the glass industry, Gold Plus Glass Industry manufactures, processes and trades various types of glasses. Headquartered in Delhi, it is the first and only 100% Indian owned float glass manufacturer.
Subhash Tyagi (Chairman & Chief Promoter, Gold Plus Group and Gold Plus Glass Industry Limited), a self-made man, started his career in 1976, and in a span of 25 years, he set up one of India’s largest glass processing units and first fully Indian owned float glass plant.
Jimmy Tyagi (Executive Director) joined his father in the business in 2007 and has been actively involved in setting-up and running of the float glass project at Roorke.
Vivek Dubey (Director – Marketing) has been associated with the group for the past 20 years, driving sales and marketing function across India and overseas.
In a candid conversation with WFM, Subhash Tyagi, Jimmy Tyagi and Vivek Dubey, talk about the company’s growth and achievements, their products and production facilities, their contribution to Indian glass and façade industry, and their future plans and endeavours.
Subhash Tyagi (ST): We started our journey with a small scale trading in the glass industry in 1985. At that time, processed glass was not in use in India. In 1994, I went to Germany to attend an exhibition and there I saw the buildings were using processed glass like insulated glass, tempered glass etc. When I returned from there, I thought of setting up a processing industry in 1995.
I brought the insulating glass for the first time in India, which we imported from Austria. We got our first order for insulated glass for Taj hotel’s renovation in Mumbai. We were the first to introduce insulated glass in India.
By 2000, we had our complete processing facility ready and started manufacturing laminated tempering, ceramic and many other glasses. In 2005, Saint Gobain started its second line of glass and by then we had come up with our second processing facility in Himachal Pradesh. At that time, we also observed that the demand was high and there was a huge gap between the demand and supply. To minimise this gap, we came up with few new float lines. Now, in India, there are 11 float lines, but still, there is a need to import the glass of 2 float lines.
The boom in government projects saw increasing demand for glass and it is creating a good growth drive for the glass industry, which is now growing at 12-15 percent and it will remain constant for the coming years.
Jimmy Tyagi (JT): I joined my father in the glass business in 2007, after completing my studies. At that time we were in the process of setting up our first float line in Roorkee. It has been more than 11 years now. I have been focusing more on the manufacturing of float glass line.
ST: The first milestone would be when the float glass came to India, the first plant was set up by the Gujarat Guardian in 1992. This helped us to increase our trading network and from there on we grew at a very good pace. The second milestone was when we started our own processing unit, and we became one of the biggest processors in 2004 when we set up our second plant in Himachal Pradesh.
That time, we were catering to the Pan India market and doing most of the big projects. Our next milestone was becoming a manufacturer from being a processor. We decided to set up a float glass plant and in 2006 and started working on this idea. We purchased land in Roorkee and that was a huge investment. It took two years to set up that plant, and we started the glass production in January 2009.
JT: In manufacturing, with line 1, we are producing clear glass, mirrors, frosted glass and one shade of gold reflective glass. Line 2 will be producing tinted glass in all four shades – grey, green blue and bronze. So, with these two lines, we will be covering 95- 96 percent of the product range which is there in the float glass industry globally.
JT: We have two float lines and mirror line in our main manufacturing unit in Roorkee, Uttarakhand. We are planning to add one more mirror line over there by the end of this year. We are planning to update our line-1 to increase our capacity to 550 tons per day. By the end of this year, our capacity would be 1250 tons per day. Our other two facilities are in Sonipat, Haryana and Kala Amb, Himachal Pradesh.
JT: The growth of architectural glass in India is quite consistent. The major shift is happening because people are getting aware of process glass i.e., safety glass. Many buildings are using safety glass nowadays, especially in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. As people are going towards safety glass for their buildings, it is creating good growth for the glass industry.
JT: There are several types of processed glass, which include, toughened, laminated, insulated, ceramic printed glass, bullet proof glass, etc. Sales of all these segments are growing at a good pace. Now, these glasses have been included in the National Building Code, and the prescribed standards are being made mandatory also, it will further help in the growth of consumption of these glasses.
JT: More and more processed and double glazed glass are being used in the industry. Façade industry has to grow along with real estate in order to meet that demand for glass. Both these industries have to go hand in hand. People should have more focus on the quality of glass
JT: We have focused more on the glass industry and have ensured that whatever technology is available worldwide in the processing sector and also in the float manufacturing sector, we will bring it to India. We have also tried to educate and make the people aware of the type of glass they should use in their buildings. We have seen tremendous growth in the glass industry in the last few years.
Vivek Dubey (VD): We are working on Ashoka University in Sonipat, Indira Gandhi Hospital in Dwarka, and some of the Wipro and Infosys projects. We recently completed a project for UNESCO in Kathmandu, and there are a lot of smaller projects other than these. We are one of the oldest in the Industry in glass processing in India and have supplied glass for many iconic projects like Taj hotels, parliament library, Sahara Star Hotel dome, etc. Our project for Sahara star is a landmark project as the world’s largest pillar less atrium. It has got a very special glass which allows natural light of about 67% but prevents the heat, thus the air conditioning is very effective. These characteristics of the glass support the growth of plants and even trees in the atrium. The consultants for this project were from Australia.
Another important project is a globe shaped building for Infosys in Pune. It was around 4000 different pieces of glass in various sizes and shapes (double glazed, heat strengthened, laminated glass) was used. The challenge was not only to produce these glasses but also to mark them according to their exact location. For another Infosys project in Mysore, which is a ‘stretch cloth shaped’ kind of building, we provided ceramic fritted glass to cut down the glare coming in the building.
We did a project for Infosys Chandigarh, which is a huge ship shaped building. Laminated glass without any heat treatment is used in this to avoid any distortion in the glass. In case of damages, the glass remains functional till the replacement comes.
JT: It’s very important for safety purposes and to conserve resources or to reduce the operational cost of the building. Architects suggest the best possible combination of materials/ glass to achieve the same, which is very important. He/she needs to decide on the depending on the purpose of the project or that building itself.
JT: We follow the BIS standards for the quality checking of our products. These standards have been updated and now they are par with the global standards. We were the first company India to get the BIS marking on all our products.
JT: Annealed glass need to be processed first to make them useful for architectural and automotive segment. All segments, whether it is automotive or construction, have their own regulations which they have to follow. Most of them are specified by the automaker itself, and they would definitely be following the rules and regulations signed by the government. Glazing application has to follow those guidelines to ensure the safety of the people who are using them directly. Any floor above three to the fourth level has to use a laminated glass and tempered glass. Now, these regulations have also been included in NBC, but, I think an effort is required to make it mandatory across the country.
VD: Acoustics is one of the most challenging tasks, particularly for the hotel industry. If your glass is not enough heat resistant, you may use a better air-conditioning system. But once you choose a wrong acoustic system (glass is not the only element which cuts down the noise, it has to be the whole system), there is no way you can cut down the noise. There has to be the least number of openable windows for better acoustics. If openable windows are a must, then we need to use very good hardware and quality systems and sealants, right glass and right frames treated by glass wool within the system.
VD: Indian climatic conditions vary from north to South drastically. When people try to copy specifications from Europe, then it becomes a problem. A lot of stress is given to the U value where as in our climatic condition, the solar factor is much more important than U value. The products which are available in India are very good for the application in our country and abroad.
The manufacturers supply what architects or consultant specify. So it is more to do with these experts to study the climatic condition before specifying the light, U value and solar factor. Even if we want to copy specifications, it should be the specifications from the UAE, not Europe or the USA, since the climatic condition matches with ours. Too much stress on U value is not good since it might lead to an adverse condition within the building, turning it to a greenhouse where the heat gets trapped.
Checking on climatic condition and building applications are also important (whether it is catering only for day, or for day and night), the type of building (like a hospital, school or a commercial building), fixing arrangements – all these decide on the type of glass on façade. A lot of learning is required for selection of the glass.
What advantages do you see with the BIS standards are being mandated?
JT: BIS certification has been made mandatory for the manufacturing of glass, which will be a good step to regulate the quality of glass. This rule will also regulate the quality of the glass coming from other countries. The countries like Malaysia and China need to have the BIS marking otherwise, they will not be able to export their products in India. So, it is a good step to ensure the quality levels right up there like the global standards.
VD: Many of our architects specify a brand or a product instead of specifying values of solar factor, light transmission, U value, shading coefficient, internal & external reflections, etc. That is one change the industry has to see and that is happening. We see it high-end projects where good architects and consultants are engaged. These experts should provide a range, rather than one specific number, like how it is done in the developed countries so that there are more options are available and there is a decent competition. This will allow wider choices for developers and the fabricators.
VD: Be it any standard, it talks about the minimum parametric requirement, not the highest performance standards. Minimum quality levels have been defined for glass. Now when you talk about systems, the variation is huge. Very low quality system to a very high end system is available in the Indian market.
But in the case of glass, it is the same float glass which goes into a luxury hotel or a small country house. The clear float glass or tempered glass, the qualities remain the same. Since there is more standardisation in the glass, there is a lesser variation available. In systems, because of the variation of range, we need to specify the application first and then standardise the system. If the standards are not kept as the lowest required parameters, then it becomes an entry barrier for many players in India.
Though most of the glass industry falls into an organised sector, it could be divided into two – 1. The primary glass producers or float glass manufacturers, who all are in the organised sector and the entry barrier is very high. 2, Processors – In processors with many chinese and indian plants coming up, the investment levels Spider Fitting Processing Industry Speaks 110 WFM are totally different. If it is a very sophisticated glass company, the functionality in terms of strength or breakage pattern you may get it in any tempered glass would be similar. But the aesthetic will differ for a glass from a good tempering plant to not so good one. The optical distortion would vary. Still, comparatively, the glass industry is more organised and is more systematic.
JT: I think it is already on the right track. People have already started using all the right kind of material in the building. The only thing we have to see is that this goes beyond the Tire-1 and Tire-2 cities in India than limiting to the major cities. Going forward, I would like to see that smaller cities are performing the best in the next few years.
VD: One of our products, the ‘Magic Glass’, is a remote controlled glass which can be made transparent and opaque as per your needs. We do supply bullet resistant glass for various applications – resistant to normal revolver upto SLR level. We also supply special acoustic glass. We need to understand the project details and requirements to manufacture these specialty glasses. We also do bent and bent laminated glass. We have tried some LED glasses too, but not supplied to any projects yet.
JT: We supply bullet-proof glass to various companies. They are mainly used in the projects for armed forces. This segment is very small but the demand is quite good. The bullet-proof glass is also used in special buildings like embassies, etc.
VD: One of the projects is the Bharati Airtel building at Gurugram, where the chairman wanted the conference room with the switchable glasses. Here we have also installed Asia’s largest television screen. With a remote, we can convert these glass to transparent screens too.
In another project for Jaipuria Bottling Plant Corporate Office at Connaught Place in Delhi, we have used this switchable glass. There are some defence projects for which we have supplied customised bullet resistant glass. For the roof top of the Sahara Star project in Mumbai, we have specialised bolted glazing without any holes drilled in the glass. We have also done a similar project in Delhi for Dow corning experience centre, where you can stick spider fitting to the glass.
JT: There is a very high emphasis on R&D in India. We do all our work in-house since we are a fully Indian company, and we don’t have any technological partner. So, for whatever we produce, we have to do R&D in-house. Currently, we are in the process of manufacturing different shades of tinted glass, and we keep our R&D at par with the global standards.
JT: The glass manufacturing industry has its own sets of challenges. The major challenge is costing. The cost of fuel in India is very high which directly affects the glass industry. The crude prices are also going very high creating big trouble for our industry. So, the stability in the input prices, especially in fuel prices can help the industry. India is not able to compete or export its glass because of high manufacturing cost. Another threat is the import of glass especially from countries like China and Malaysia.
JT: We are planning to set up two float lines in the southern part of India with a capacity of 2000 tons per day. The project has been scheduled for the next three to four years. We have already started looking for land and the work will start within this year.
JT: We have a huge advantage as we have been a trader, a processor and now a manufacturer as well. So, we have good experience of all these three verticals as well as industry. We understand the issues of the dealers and the process better. Our strength is that we are able to connect with all of them at a very high level, and we focus on ensuring satisfaction to our customers. If the customer is not satisfied, that’s mean we still have some room for improvement. We come with our new range of products to fulfil the various requirements of projects to provide satisfaction to the customers.
JT: In terms of glass consumption, India is lagging far behind. The rate at which the Indian economy is growing and at the rate at which the glass is required, there is a huge scope for the glass industry’s growth. There is no doubt that the industry will grow tremendously in the next decade.
VD: Glass industry is a growing industry, from manufacturing, processing since a number of users are growing along with uses. Glass industry’s growth is very organic. There are lots of promises from the government like smart cities, airports and PPP for railway stations, etc., which will help to see exponential growth in the glass industry. The demand for glass will never stop, but the Indian players need to upgrade themselves to take a substantial share of the growth. Otherwise, the MNCs will take over.