5 Questions for James Shang, CEO of Grenzebach Machinery (Jiashan) Ltd.
‘China Glass’ in Shanghai – the industry meeting place for the Asian glass industry – has been postponed. Nevertheless, to give you a comprehensive insight into our Asian glass business, we interviewed James Shang, CEO of the Chinese Grenzebach site in Jiashan, where the company is now known as a reliable, high-quality supplier and partner, particularly for float and pattern glass equipment.
James Shang has been gaining experience within the glass industry since the 1990s, when he started working as an electrical engineer. He has been part of the Grenzebach family since the first Chinese site was founded in 1998 and knows the industry and the market inside out.
He explains how and why Grenzebach has gained such a firm foothold in the Asian market.
Question 1: How has Grenzebach’s activity developed in China over the years?
The first Grenzebach glass line was delivered to a Chinese customer as early as 1986. Rudolf Grenzebach, founder of our company, recognized the potential of the Chinese glass market very early on and established a sales office in Shanghai in 1998, the same year I joined the company. With the growing demand for glass, more and more glass lines were established in China. There are now over 300 float glass lines in China and 50 percent are delivered from Grenzebach. Since the end of 2019, CNUD EFCO has been part of the Grenzebach Group, which means that Grenzebach supports glass manufacturers with complete production lines from the hot end to the cold end.
We have listened to the market and learned from our experiences. That's why we have optimized and adapted our production lines for pattern glass (also called rolled glass) 100 percent to meet our customers' needs. With this pattern glass equipment, Grenzebach is making an important contribution to the use of "green" energy in East Asia.
Question 2: In general, how would you describe the market conditions for the flat glass industry in China?
Generally, customers are becoming more critical, and this is an important point for Grenzebach. All customers recognize that product quality and lower energy costs are key to short- and long-term success.
Question 3: Are any sectors of the industry performing better than others and what are the future prospects?
All glass end products are finding wider and wider applications in their respective fields. Architectural structures are becoming more modern with more glass; automotive glass is becoming thinner and safer with the application of special thin glass. With the increasing trend of green energy worldwide, the demand for solar glass, in particular, is increasing.
Question 4: Which products from the Grenzebach portfolio are particularly successful in your region and why?
China's leadership places a clear emphasis on renewable energies: On September 22, 2020, China's President Xi Jinping announced to the UN General Assembly that China will set its climate targets even higher in the future – which means a consistent shift away from fossil energy sources towards sustainable ones. Grenzebach's innovative technology for manufacturing pattern glass is now helping to achieve this. From 2021 to 2030, the government plans to add 80 to 160 gigawatts of solar capacity annually. This implies a sharp increase in demand for solar glass, and glass manufacturers have to respond to it. Grenzebach is excellently positioned here; in China alone, the installation of more than 160 pattern glass lines specifically for the solar market is planned.
Question 5: Who are your main customers in China and is there any success stories?
We have a strong and trustful relationship with all our Chinese customers. To pick out one of the success stories: the Flat Group encouraged Grenzebach to re-enter the pattern glass market in 2020. We gained their trust with our technology and reputation in the market. We’ve already delivered 28 pattern glass cold ends to flat glass customers; 30 further lines are planned for 2022. We have had similarly good experiences with many other companies. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their trust and the good cooperation with Grenzebach.