Gujarat Borosil Limited is the only manufacturer of solar glass in India. As recently announced, they decided to invest in a second AEROFLAT tempering furnace designed by LiSEC. In this interview, Mr. Pradeep Kheruka, Vice Chairman of Borosil, talks about trends in the market and why LiSEC was the best option to invest in – even as a flat glass producer.
LiSEC: Which are your business goals?
Kheruka: To be a customer-centric company providing glass protection solutions for photovoltaic modules and flat plate solar thermal collectors offering ‘best in class’ durability and efficiency. We target niche markets, for example 2 mm tempered glass applications. Producing the raw glass in the requested quality was a big challenge, tempering it another one, also drilling holes in back sheets is a challenge we managed. Apart from offering 2 mm tempered glass, we have set up a goal to meet the demands of manufacturers of small size modules – which can be as small as only half a cell.
LiSEC: What changes in the market do you experience?
Kheruka: We experience a great interest in glass to glass modules, requests are exploding right now. The reason for this is the long lifespan these modules offer. 60% of module failures are due to poor quality plastic back sheets. On top of that: the sealing between two glass sheets is much better than between glass and plastic, which extends life cycle up to 40 years compared to 25 years with modules having plastic back sheets.
LiSEC: How would you describe the expectations of the customers in these niches?
Kheruka: Customers in these niches expect trouble-free business – like with top class cars: you buy them and you drive them and you do not expect to face an operational problem. It must all work, you should not have to think about anything. When customers get the glass, they only want to use it seamlessly in their production, that is where we want to differ ourselves from other glass suppliers.
LiSEC: How did you hear about our solution?
Kheruka: I have been seeing LiSEC for decades as a provider for IG solutions. Indian users of LiSEC IG lines had good things to say about LiSEC, they were mainly small companies and talked very positively. The reputation of LiSEC was good in our eyes. This enabled us to go and visit the company and get to know the management. And we were really impressed by the design approach to glass tempering: air cushion, easy glass removal in case of glass breakage, easy to train and operate... The LiSEC team gave us comfort. Employees are aligned and give us a good feeling. Head, heart and attitude are aligned.
LiSEC: What makes LiSEC unique from your point of view?
Kheruka: Machine design, engineering and the people – we look for a solution and buy a technology on the one hand, on the other hand we deal with people and both have to fit. This is very important to us: match on both levels, that is how we see a business relationship. I like the fact that LiSEC listens to its customers, take them seriously and take care about the business relationship on all levels. LiSEC understands the needs of its customers and comes up with a great technical solution. As long as the people who represent LiSEC understand this fundamentally, they will continue to prosper.
LiSEC: In your decision process where there also doubts?
Kheruka: One issue that gave us food for thought is the fact that LiSEC mainly has glass processors as customers, but no glass producers. If a machine in our factory is not running – we have big troubles, since the flat glass production cannot be stopped – it goes on continuously. What I want to express here is that here is a very big difference in understanding the processes and requirements of a flat glass producer vs a processor who can switch off machines any time he likes. So far, though, the AEROFLAT has been able to keep up with our processes, so you convinced also on that level.
LiSEC: Did you explore other solutions prior to this that did not work out? If so, what happened?
Kheruka: Yes, there are other solutions on the market – but we compare products and teams behind as well. It is always a package.
Year of foundation: 1962
Number of employees: 400 / 700 occasional employees.
Turnover: Borosil Group: 93 Mio US Dollars, Ebitda: about 18 Mio US Dollars
Export rate: 25%, export to eleven countries in European Union alone