Dubai Investments’ glass business: maintaining consistent performance despite the Covid-19 pandemic

Dubai Investments’ glass business: maintaining consistent performance despite the Covid-19 pandemic

Glass LLC: sharpening its focus

Braving disruptions, Dubai Investments’ glass business operating under its glass holding subsidiary – Glass LLC – is reinventing itself by embracing pandemic driven changes and seizing opportunities to shape its future, writes PUMMY KAUL

01 February 2021

Dubai Investments, a leading diversified investments conglomerate, said its glass business operating under its glass holding subsidiary – Glass LLC – has maintained a healthy financial position in 2020, in spite of the headwinds brought on by the global pandemic.

“Dubai Investments glass companies maintained a healthy financial position in 2020, despite the global pandemic and the economic meltdown, which is a big achievement given the circumstances. Our Glass companies have secured deals, maintaining a consistent performance,” Abdulaziz Bin Yagub AlSerkal, CEO, Industrial Platform, Dubai Investments, told the Gulf Industry in an exclusive interview.

Glass provides premium quality glass solutions across a wide array of industries, from construction to automotive, at a total of five production facilities, incorporating glass companies namely Emirates Glass (EG), Lumi Glass (LG), Saudi American Glass (SAG) Emirates Insolaire and Emirates Float Glass (EFG).

AlSerkal: focusing on plant efficiency

AlSerkal: focusing on plant efficiency

“Our glass companies continued normal operations, taking into consideration the safety and well-being of our employees and stakeholders,” AlSerkal said while talking about the impact of the outbreak of Covid-19 on its operations.

“The Covid-19 outbreak is causing widespread concern and economic hardship for consumers, businesses, and communities across the globe,” he noted and added: “The industry is especially vulnerable, given that the bulk of its workforce comprises off on-site jobs that cannot be done remotely. The most immediate impacts are being felt in the subcontractor and the middle market of the industry.”

“Like any industry, the glass business sector has been impacted by Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of the borders and the key ports impacted the businesses in terms of raw materials supplies and finished products requirements. Fortunately, the Dubai Investments glass companies have implemented prudent steps in diversifying the products and the markets to ensure business continuity by strategic sourcing plans and secured supply chain management,,” he added. 


Post pandemic strategy

Braving disruptions, the company is now reinventing itself by embracing pandemic driven changes and seizing opportunities to shape its future.

In line with the Dubai government initiatives promoting and encouraging manufacturing firms to seize available localisation opportunities, the glass companies under Dubai Investments have intensified efforts, stimulating the local production capacity.

Glass LLC: keeping up to date with the latest technological advancements

Glass LLC: keeping up to date with the latest technological advancements

Apart from looking further to expand its footprint across the GCC and the Middle Eastern region, the company is eyeing to capture market share in new categories such as glazing. The company is also embarking on an aggressive expansion of its production capacities across various subsidiaries in addition to launching new product offerings.

“Our aim is to be the preferred glazing supplier, with a wide range of products fulfilling the current and upcoming green building regulations,” announces AlSerkal.

“The next biggest thing will be glazing with the ability to passively generate energy,” he added. Currently available are products like Kromatix, an alternative façade cladding for non-vision panels and spandrel, which has integrated photovoltaic capabilities. Surely the next evolutionary step should be fully transparent glazing elements that generate energy at high efficiencies and help buildings to achieve net-zero carbon emission, he pointed out.

“From the perspective of the glazing manufacturer and processor, there are no limitations for having complete glass walls considering the UAE climatic conditions. In fact, we would wish for a lot more glass being used in buildings. We are also exploring combining glass with other cladding materials for better performance as cladding has less direct transmission, which reduces the cooling loads, but at the same time, they limit the amount of natural light within the space,” AlSerkal noted.


Plant expansion

Given the group’s emphasis on keeping up to date with the technological advancements that take place within the glass industry, the glass companies plan to update the plants with new high-efficient machines that will `increase production at a reduced cost in the future’, announced AlSerkal.

Quality production: adding value

Quality production: adding value

In 2021, particularly, the group plans to enhance its technology by adding hi-tech Jumbo Glass Processing machinery. In the first quarter, the company will add Hi-Tech Auto Glass Processing Edging Machine to enhance its high-performance temperable glass products. This will be followed by installing a jumbo size advanced technology 8-metre Cutting Machine in the second quarter, and finally in the third quarter, the company plans to acquire a Jumbo Size Digital Printing Machine. The latter, AlSerkal said, will be a first in the Middle East and will grant it an edge over competitors enabling digital printing and coating.

“We will continue to focus on the development of energy-efficient glass solutions and special products that will further transform the landscape from regular buildings to pieces of art and architectural ingenuity. We are committed and dedicated to drive innovation throughout the Middle East and beyond and strive to be even closer to the creative minds within architecture firms,” he said.

“Increasing the market share will be accomplished by improving the efficiency of the manufacturing process with new machines, etc. Increased demand for the oversized IG panels can be catered using Jumbo Size Glass Processing Units. Upgradation of Terra- G coater will also enable in improving the performance and durability of the temperable coated products,” he continued.

Glass LLC is also embarking on another major plan: Emirates Float Glass (EFG), a subsidiary of Glass, is embarking on its ambitious plan to launch its second float glass plant in Abu Dhabi to enhance its global footprint. The second line will complement its current production facilities and is expected to double its production capacity to 1,200 tonnes per day.

EFG’s new manufacturing facility in Abu Dhabi, UAE, spread over 320,000 sq m of land is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery from Europe, US and Japan, achieving 100 per cent capacity utilisation, the highest benchmark for efficiency levels worldwide.

The hi-tech manufacturing unit currently holds a production capacity of 600 tonnes per day of high quality tinted, clear and pyrolytic coated float glass per day and over 190,000 tonnes of glass products per year.

EFG supplies its products to Architectural and Automotive glass sectors spanning over 65 countries including South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.

Commenting on the status of the second float glass plant, AlSerkal said that “the discussions are currently progressing on the second float plant and we shall be able to share more information when the time is right.”


Glass LLC: eyeing new markets

Glass LLC: eyeing new markets

Quality production

Commenting the special aspects of production and quality-control measures, AlSerkal said that Dubai Investments glass companies collaborate with numerous European raw-materials suppliers as they drive innovation and can be a source of additional value and competitive advantage.

“For this reason, our subsidiary Emirates Glass follows a methodology aimed at creating mutually beneficial additional value from its collaboration with key suppliers. It is based on trust and a fair sharing of risks and rewards. The added value can take different forms, from risk reduction (security of supplies, business continuity), decrease of total cost (efficiency, working capital) to mutual growth (co-development of new products, added-value services, etc.).”

As the leading supplier of sputter-coated energy saving glass across the Gulf and with presence in markets across the globe, Emirates Glass currently operates a 60,000 sq m production facility in Al Quoz industrial area and a 32,825 sq m post-temperable glass coating line in Dubai Investments Park (DIP), operational since 2010.

Emirates Glass today supplies glass and glass solutions to GCC countries such as the Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait as well as to Azerbaijan, Australia, Kenya.

“Procurement contributes directly to the reputation and performance of the group by securing supplies, finding the optimum total cost of ownership, and contributing to the development of new businesses. All this results in savings throughout the chain of value, lowering the requirement for working capital and obtaining new goods and services, achieved through negotiations, collaborations, or partnerships with the suppliers,” AlSerkal said.

“Emirates Glass has invested in state-of-the-art machinery that produces glass products of quality that is much higher than what the international glass processing standards require. Moreover, Emirates Glass has a fully equipped quality control laboratory with equipment available to measure all aspects of glass performance and durability,” he added.

New product offerings will be rolled out in 2021

New product offerings will be rolled out in 2021

As for EFG, it has licensed technology from Vitro Flat Glass (Formerly PPG Industries USA), ensuring that the products are in line with the world-class quality benchmarks in the industry. This has enabled Emirates Float Glass to continue showcasing its decade-long commitment to total customer satisfaction in terms of delivered quality. EFG deploys high-end requirements, including XRF machines, automated inspection systems and labs for ensuring that quality is delivered from sourcing to end-products.

Saudi American Glass (SAG’s) production capacity stands at 480,000 sq m of high-performance coated glass per annum, while Lumiglass production capacity of bullet resistant glass is at 2160 bullet proof sets per year.

Over the years, SAG has completed some landmark projects like Riyadh Park Mall, Bahrain World Trade Centre, King Fahad National Library to name a few.

Some of the other projects, the Glass LLC companies have worked on in the region include high-performance, energy-saving, reflective, coated glass products for The Gate Towers, Egypt; Stella Maris Project, Dubai; Seven Palm Hotel & Residences (34,000 sq m); Mayan by Aldar Properties (31,000 sq m); Stella Marris (36,000 sq m); Imperial Avenue Project (30,000 sq m) and Creek Views Project by Azizi Developments (12,000 sq m).


New product offerings

The groups’ glass companies have been consistently introducing new products to gain a market lead. In the new normal too, they are thriving to reinforce product range by strengthening existing line up with advanced products, complementing multifunctional offerings.

“Our glass companies have been continuously working to enhance product range as per regional and international market demands and requirements,” AlSerkal said.

The below mentioned projects are lined up in 2021:

New Coated Product Range: As part of its R&D initiative, Emirates Glass has developed coated products that were not in the portfolio, so far. For instance, Emirates Glass recently launched a range of Emicool DSR products that provide a highly reflective, neutral silver external appearance, while also giving a thermal performance of a double silver product with reduced U values. Emirates Glass is also working towards other high-performance coatings to broaden its product range and give architects/consultants additional options to choose from.

• EMIKAPLUX Products: This is another product range that Emirates Glass is working along with Kaphs Middle East Building Materials Trading LLC (KAPHS). This range includes aesthetical and functional elements that can be laminated in glass or captured in insulated, glazing units. They come in a variety of types, such as wood, fabrics, metallic-coated fabrics, woven metals or expanded metal sheets. Based on application and orientation – skylights, vision panels, separators – the EMIKAPLUX product range offers customisable levels of privacy and dynamic optical effects.

• Higher Thermal Performance: Double silver temperable coated glass represents around 60 to 70 per cent of the new projects in the UAE, and the medium-performance glass is almost out of the market in the GCC; the focus should be on further developing the double silver.

• Further Low Iron Requirements: Emirates Glass has collaborated with glass producers for its low iron glass requirements. After having assessed their performance in terms of quality and deliveries, Emirates Glass is now able to provide its coated glass options on low-iron substrates. This gives it the option to deliver based on current market requirements.

As for EFG, the company will enhance the colour range of tinted float glass products and continue to deliver the key product range to esteemed customers in the region and globally. The product portfolios will be further expanded to niche products like extra-clear float glass.


Spreading its wings

Over the years, Glass LLC has transformed from being a local market leader to a glass supplier of international stature. The company is further enhancing its geographic footprint and evolving as a leading provider of quality glass products globally.

The company supplies glass and glass solutions to GCC countries, such as the Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, as well as Azerbaijan, Australia, Kenya, Lebanon, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East and South Africa, Canada, Australia, and South America Countries.

“We are currently executing projects spanning the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The recent projects in the region includes high-performance, energy-saving, reflective, coated glass products for The Gate Towers, Egypt,” AlSerkal said.

“The impact of the stock sheet market is mainly based in the export region, where we can produce stock sheets and send them to different countries like South Africa, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, and many more,” he added.

“The stock sheet is also available with the local processor with which they can use our products to be processed in a local factory. This grants a high level of flexibility for us by processing the glass and sharing it with other local fabricators,” AlSerkal said.

Talking about the key challenges Dubai Investments’ glass business faces in the region, Al saker said: “What the market wants is high selectivity – a high visible light to solar heat gain ratio. But in this region, due to the high intensity of natural sunlight, façade consultants opt for moderate light transmission while aiming to achieve the lowest possible solar heat gain. In the end, it’s up to the architect and specific application (facades, skylights, atriums, etc.) But the glass industry is surely able to provide the best product.”

Above all, AlSerkal, said that the foremost priority for the group is to invest in people. “All said and done, they are our most valued asset. These efforts, in addition to others, will allow us to pass our savings along to our customers,” AlSerkal said.

The companies’ personnel are also expected to be equipped with highly professional technical knowledge, thus playing their part in decision making. “This all, we believe, will help in acquiring a greater market share which will ultimately result in the growth of our profits and revenue,” he added.

Additionally, the company believes that the surging demand for its eco-friendly glass further reinforces the growing commitment towards sustainable development and green building principles. “With such quality products, we are aggressively aiming at increased market share in existing and new geographies,” he said.

“Our objective is not only to provide the full range of high-performance large glass panels but also guarantee the highest quality standard available in the glass world,” AlSerkal concluded.  

More Stories