Optimism increases across the UK glazing industry as firms anticipate growth
The UK’s glass and glazing industry looks set to experience a period of expansion over the next two years, with firms upping their headcounts and planning further investment in order to take advantage of a number of opportunities in the market, according to research from Pilkington United Kingdom Limited.
The study, which surveyed 318 Pilkington United Kingdom Limited customers across the supply chain – including fabricators, installers and architects – found that two thirds (66 percent) plan to recruit more staff over the next two years.
A conservative estimate for the average number of jobs firms are hoping to create in the next two years is three per organisation. If replicated across the industry, this could mean thousands of new roles within the sector.
The expected uplift in job creation appears to be underpinned by a forecast increase in turnover for many businesses, with the average firm forecasting growth of at least 10 per cent over the next two years.
Investing in the future
The survey also shows businesses are planning to invest in developing new products and improving their infrastructure to capitalise on opportunities. Almost two fifths (37 percent) said they plan to develop their product range while nearly a third (32 percent) are planning to upgrade their premises or machinery.
Opportunities on the horizon
The research also highlighted that firms are anticipating an uplift in the number of new houses being built, something that was confirmed by the last Autumn Statement, in which the Chancellor announced the biggest house building initiative since the 1970s.
A third of businesses (32 percent) said an upturn in the construction of new homes would allow them to grow, while a quarter (24 percent) cited increased spend by property owners on energy-efficiency improvements and other retro-fits as a growth driver.
Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) said that the relaxation of the planning laws – a proposal introduced by the Government in the summer budget – was an important step in helping their firm pursue a more ambitious expansion strategy.
Andy McDowell, Commercial Director at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, said: “There has been no shortage of pessimistic forecasts for the performance of the glazing market in recent years, and while many firms are still operating with caution, this survey shows clear signs of growing confidence in some parts of the industry. The commercial sector in particular is a buoyant market, with many of our customers citing healthy order books."
When questioned about the greatest obstacle currently facing their business, the rising cost of materials came out on top with more than half of respondents (52 percent) highlighting it as the biggest challenge in the two years ahead.
One in three respondents (33 percent) said that low spend in the domestic market as a result of tough economic conditions would be the biggest challenge, while just over a quarter (27 percent) named the cost of employment as the main hurdle.
Other challenges included lack of skills in the labour market (25 percent) and sluggish spending in the commercial sector (23 percent).
Perhaps surprisingly, overseas competition was named as a threat by just five per cent of firms, compared to 22 percent that flagged domestic competition.
Andy McDowell added: “As a business we’re committed to working in partnership with our customers, helping them to achieve their growth ambitions, and this type of market intelligence ensures we are able to provide a better level of support as we have an in-depth understanding of the industry from their perspective.”
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.