-Vikram Khanna, CMO, Asahi India Glass Ltd.
Asahi India Glass Ltd. (AIS) is India’s leading integrated glass solutions company and a dominant player both in the automotive glass and architectural glass segments.It commands over 70 per cent share in the Indian automotive glass market. Vikram Khanna, CMO speaks on the company’s end-to-end solutions, which cover manufacturing of glass, processing, fabrication and installation services. Edited excerpts:
Could you provide a brief overview of Asahi India Glass Limited’s operations in India?
Asahi India Glass Limited (AIS) was established as a tripartite joint venture between Maruti Suzuki, Asahi Glass and Labroo and Associates in the year 1985. It started with the prime objective of providing international quality automotive safety glass to the rapidly expanding automobile industry in India. AIS has grown from a one-customer one-plant set-up to being one of the largest integrated glass companies in India, manufacturing a wide range of automotive safety glass, float glass, architectural processed glass and glass products spanning across the entire glass value chain.
Over the years, AIS’ automotive glass has expanded from a single location manufacturing company into one with multiple production and assembling facilities across different regions of India. Much of this growth was necessitated by customer requirements; it was important to be located close to customers’ manufacturing facilities to provide seamless service and effective delivery.
Today, we have four state-of-the-art production facilities at Bawal (Haryana), Roorkee (Uttarakhand), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), and Taloja (Maharashtra) along with three sub-assemblies-cum-warehouses at Bengaluru (Karnataka), Halol (Gujarat) and Pune (Maharashtra).
AIS is the most trusted supplier to the leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the passenger car, commercial vehicle (trucks and buses), railways, Metro coaches, tractors, and off-highway segments. The widest range of glass products available in the automotive sector in India today is from AIS and includes not just laminated windshields and tempered glass for side-lites and back-lites, but also a host of sub-assembly and value-added products like defogger glass, acoustic glass, encapsulated glass, etc., and innovative products like plug-in windows, water-repellant glass and rain-sensor windscreen, to name a few.
What are the new technologies that the company has incorporated in windshield glass?
For the future, the focus is on value-added products which offer thermal comfort, noise reduction, reduction in fuel consumption, and design/visibility enhancement along with functional displays. Across all OEMs, reduction in car weight is also of prime importance and hence ultra-thin windshield glasses with tougher specs of quality are expected to be used in future car models. We may also see introduction of other value-added products like solar glass, acoustic windscreens, IR cut PVB windshields, IR cut acoustic PVB windshields, and UV cut glasses in the entry level Indian passenger car models. Currently these high-end technology products are available only in the niche segments.
Could you elaborate about acoustic and solar glass for windshields?
This is a high-performance car glass that is made by sandwiching two panels of glass with a special PVB interlayer having a high-dampening material. This blocks high frequency sound waves and dampens the acoustic and mechanical vibrations. The key benefits are that it significantly reduces noise and vibrations inside the car cabin and reduces driver fatigue and offers better comfort for the driver and the passengers. The lower noise in the cabin results in enhanced experience to enjoy music, conversations and phone calls.
The IR-cut laminated glass is built with a special PVB interlayer. This interlayer has a special additive that blocks the sun’s heat and prevents it from entering the car. Solar control glass which is used for side-lites and back-lites has a metal oxide ingredient which blocks the sun’s heat. The key benefits are that even if the car is parked under the sun, it ensures faster cooling of the cabin to a comfortable temperature. It also improves the air-conditioner’s performance due to less heat transfer from outside and ensures longer life of seat covers due to reduced heat.
What are the trends for the future?
There has been a lot of research and development in this field. For example, it is possible now to view your navigation information sharp and clear on your windshield itself. The dashboard information is projected right on the windshield through an in-built projector in the car’s console. The glass is built with a wedge-shaped PVB film that is thin towards the bottom and thick on the top. This provides better clarity and avoids a blurred image that usually occurs in a standard windshield. This allows the driver to stay focused on the road and at the same time check dashboard information for speed, fuel, navigation, etc. It thereby improves driver comfort and enhances safety.
Further, driving through heavy rains is a very risky task. Therefore there always has been a demand for glass that can provide better clarity during such situations. The water-repellent glass for side windows is built with a special hydrophobic coating that increases the angle of contact to prevent water from spreading on to the surface. This ensures that the water droplets slide off and not leave any marks on the glass. Then there is glass that can melt snow. The heated windshields use very fine, almost invisible, heatable tungsten wires, embedded on the PVB interlayer film that are heated by the car battery. It helps in defogging and removing of snow deposits. There is glass that acts as a sunscreen. This is to prevent the harmful effects of UV rays that penetrate the inner skin and cause long-term damage. The UV cut glass is a high performance glass manufactured with special additives that block UV rays and heat from the sun.
What is the connection between Windshield Experts and AIS? Is the former a subsidiary company? What are the facilities or expertise provided by Windshield Experts?
While looking to explore possibilities beyond automotive glass manufacturing, AIS saw an opportunity in the automotive glass repair and replacement business. This led to the conceptualisation of Windshield Experts — an entity solely dedicated towards repair and replacement of automotive glass. It is India’s premier service provider for automotive glass repair and replacement, and has 65 stores across 32 cities. The company provides a fast, world-class service with warranty and has become a preferred choice for corporate, fleets and car owners.
Windshield Experts provides its customers a wide portfolio of services and offers an inventory covering both Indian and imported cars. In partnership with leading insurance companies, Windshield Experts also offers cashless services to customers, making it easy for car owners to get instant access to a wider range of expert services. The company also provides value-added services like battery check and replacement, wiper check and replacement, car detailing services, and car care products. All services follow international safety norms as prescribed by Automotive Glazing Europe (AGE) and all parts used are as per OE specifications. Only industry-recommended PU adhesive is used, not silicone or low quality silicone substitutes branded as PU.