AGI glaspac – Glass Packaging for a Sustainable Economy
AGI glaspac, a leading India-based glass bottle manufacturer with nearly five decades of experience in the sector, is set to play a bigger role in global markets.
HSIL Ltd., Packaging Products Division, AGI glaspac (better known as AGI), established in 1972, has grown into one of the leading container glass manufacturers in India. In its two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Hyderabad and Bhongir (Telangana) strategically located in South-Central India with abundant availability of raw materials as well as cost-effective transport, the company makes high-quality glass containers to stringent quality standards for the packaging needs of the food, pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, spirits, beer, wine, and other industries.
Indian per capita consumption for glass packaging is still much lower compared to other nations but that is expected to change in the future, and the evolving global marketplace also highlights new potential opportunities for glassmakers.
“India is a rising economy and as such the scope of meeting an increased demand for packaging materials including glass is wide,” says Rajesh Khosla, president and CEO at AGI glaspac: “The pandemic has resulted in geopolitical disengagement with certain countries. It will leave the glass industry with a huge void and a shortfall of suppliers or importers in the future. Customers will look for new ways of sourcing and many countries will also look at developing their local industries. In any case, the supply chain is evolving and with the changes come new opportunities.”
He points out that these opportunities do not arise just for individual companies but also for the industry as a whole, where countries can learn from the most developed markets. “Glass recyclability in Europe is reaching 75%, which is an impressive figure compared to 35% in our market. To increase recyclability in line with the environmental targets is one of the tasks that we are set to tackle. An improvement in glass recycling infrastructure would help reduce the cost of production and the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process.”
Mr Koshla believes that glass can be made much more affordable because not only is it less toxic for the environment but it can be more easily recycled than plastic. It is the role of the government, manufacturers, and common consumers to bring about a change in social and consumer behaviours regarding glass and plastic and embrace glass as a better lifestyle option. “More accountability of players in the supply chain and seamless logistics and transparency among all parties involved would ensure that glass becomes a feasible and viable option not only for consumers but also manufacturers of FMCG products,” he reflects.
AGI has already played a pivotal role in the development of glass containers for many critical packaging applications. Over the many years of operations, the company has built up an excellent reputation in terms of providing products of outstanding quality and caters to a large and demanding customer base across a variety of sectors, with a portfolio ranging from a small 5 ml pharma bottle to a 4000 ml chemical or food jar.
With an in-house design studio, mould manufacturing and ACL (Applied Ceramic Labelling) facilities, AGI has fully integrated operations, which enables the manufacture of high-quality products as well as timely deliveries. AGI is in a position to provide glass containers in various colours. Apart from the Indian markets, the products are shipped to North America, Europe, Africa as well as the APAC regions.
“While we supply glass containers to a range of industries, the biggest volume is shipped to the alcoholic drink segment, a direction that we would like to change. In line with recent market developments, we would like to increase output for sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetics,” says the CEO.
To this end, the company has been investing in new technologies as well as in its R&D capability. “We are working with the Indian National Institute of Design to come up with new ideas and concepts. For example, we have recently developed antibacterial and antidepressant bottles and more innovative products are in development.” The antibacterial jars and water bottles are infused with ‘Germ Guard Technology’, a nanotechnology-based anti-microbial composite that inhibits and destroys the growth of deadly bacteria, fungus and moulds.
Mr Khosla affirms that the R&D focus is not just on enhancing product characteristics but also on improving the process, i.e., machine-building, machinery and automation. The two manufacturing facilities are equipped with the latest technologies. In 2016, electrostatic precipitators were installed to reduce SOX, NOX, and CO2. In 2017, AGI introduced TPM, LEAN and Six Sigma. In 2019, AGI invested in natural gas to curb carbon emissions. AGI has also installed end-of-the-line packaging machinery for robotic case packers, case palletizers, cullet washing systems, and automated dry optical sorting systems.
“We procure machines from world-leading manufacturers such as Swedish Emhart Glass. The state-of-the-art machinery is amongst the factors that open the door to major multinational companies in North America and Europe, as they can see that quality and reliability are not compromised. The level of technology is certainly one of our competitive advantages,” says Mr Khosla.
To be better positioned to meet the expected demand the company has invested heavily in capacity expansion. In November 2020 AGI inaugurated its new speciality glass manufacturing facility in Telangana with the aim of fostering growth in its revenue by 18%. The greenfield plant, an investment worth INR 220 crore ($30million), will manufacture special glass for premium segments, such as cosmetics, perfumery, personal care, carbonated water and high-end spirits, and will boost capacity by 1,600 tonnes a day to 1,754 tonnes a day.
“We are coming at the right time with the investment, as we see demand increasing across many segments, particularly for high-end glass packaging, be it in pharma, cosmetics or drinks,” notes Mr Khosla.
He insists that sustainability and a reduced environmental footprint are high on the company’s agenda, not only because this is something required by all major customers but because the company believes in making a positive contribution to society. The new plant will be a green facility, meeting the highest international standards. The company has set up 11.5 MW of solar photovoltaic power generation capacity and this will grow to 18 MW.
“We believe that the current market situation is a golden opportunity to raise the bar in the international markets for ‘Made-in-India’ products. AGI glaspac’s entry in the new segment of manufacturing speciality glass is a strategic decision. It will allow us to cater to the much-expected rise in global demand after the pandemic subsides,” he affirms, in conclusion.