Glass manufacturers have had to slow their production volumes since the end of the lockdown in March 2020. Unfortunately, getting these enormous production plants back to full volume is not an easy job.
This has led to the current glass shortages being experienced in the glass market today. The initial low production volumes, the backlog of orders and continued increasing demand have resulted in glass manufacturers being on reduced allocation.
This pressure is set to increase later this year as two of the UK's biggest lines will be shut down for £50 million cold maintenance programmes.
Regular daily production volumes can easily achieve hundreds of tonnes, thanks to furnaces. These furnaces are designed to operate 24/7 without interruption or supervision. Maintenance and repairs are a must for glass melting furnaces as over time the productivity and quality on the glass line deteriorate.
For the cold repair technique, the furnace must be cooled and completely emptied. Cold repair allows detailed repairs and renovations to be made but this method forces an interruption on production.
Cold repair also requires a lot of planning, due to the running times being between 12 to 20 weeks and are scheduled years in advance. The cost and complexity of the plans are so fundamental that once planned, it's almost impossible to re-arrange.
To account for the shortfall, plans will be made to import glass from Europe. However, due to Brexit and the impact on customs, the UK's ability to import glass may be affected. Further price increases are also set for 2021, following the three increases already enforced in 2020.
The pressure evident at the end of 2020 will certainly continue throughout the first half of 2021. It is now vital that glass is protected to avoid replacement delays and additional expense.