The Most Common Challenges the Glass Industry Faces
By: Allen Anderson / August 27, 2015

The United States glass supplier industry generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. That is not to say that being a successful glass supplier is an easy feat. The glass industry faces a number of challenges including the effects of changing economic conditions, a highly saturated market, advanced technological innovation and growing environmental concerns. In an effort to become a key player in this space and fight out competition, glass suppliers will need to overcome these obstacles.

Economic Conditions

The glass industry is largely dependent on the health of the economy and current market conditions. While this is favorable during a booming economy, an economic downturn can leave lasting, harmful effects. The recession of 2008 halted the majority of both residential and commercial construction, largely affecting the glass industry. Contractors weren’t building, which in turn meant there was little to no demand for glass. The industry has since experienced slow recovery, only recently seeing small growth. However, things are looking up. Growth is projected to pick up this year, and in subsequent years, due to the increase in construction activity, especially within commercial construction market.

High Competition

There is very high market concentration in the glass industry in densely populated urban centers. These areas experience the most construction growth, making them prime locations for glass suppliers. The downside of such saturated markets in highly developed areas is that the competition is everywhere. Contractors have a surplus of glass suppliers to choose from, so it comes down to being the best in the business. In order to succeed, glass suppliers need to set themselves apart from the competition through high quality products, aggressive pricing, world-class customer service and technological innovation.

Technological Innovation

Glass products are constantly changing. Staying ahead of the technological innovation is crucial. To keep up with the competition, suppliers need to invest a significant amount of time and money into research and development to bring new innovative products to market, enhance the recyclability of each product and improve the energy efficiencies involved in glass manufacturing. While maintaining the status quo is the easiest and most cost-effective solution, glass suppliers will fall quickly behind competitors that are maintaining a lead in R&D.

Environmental Concerns

The manufacturing of glass requires a significant amount of high-temperature energy. Every glass supplier is posed with the issue of trying to keep energy usage to a minimum in an effort to stay as environmentally friendly as possible. Not only do companies want to stay energy efficient to remain environmentally conscious, but also to keep production costs down. Energy accounts for a significant share of production costs when manufacturing glass, so it is of utmost importance to ensure energy efficiency when striving to decrease overhead costs.

In today’s economy, the glass industry is experiencing growth, and suppliers and contractors alike are reaping the benefits. However, the dependency on the volatile market conditions makes the glass industry very unpredictable. In order to combat that issue and rise above competition, glass suppliers must heavily focus on technological innovation and environmental efficiencies.

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