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CERAMIC·BATHROOM October 18-21,2017

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A shining star: Vietnamese tiles provide a safe haven

Time:2017.08.14  Views:

A shining star: Vietnamese tiles provide a safe haven

Vietnam’s ceramic tile industry, after many years development and upgrading, has formed its own characteristics that due to limitations of local production resources and workmanship, 80% of its ceramic tile products are glazed tile and 20% are porcelain and polished tile.

The upgrading and capacity expansion of its ceramic tile products are facilitated by its geographical advantages of a vicinity to China, which encourages Chinese enterprise of ceramic equipment and chemicals to target their export to Vietnam. With 80% of its ceramic tiles being glazed tiles, Vietnam ceramic tile industry has a big demand for raw materials of surface decoration, such as frits, colors/glazes and ink, which only few local enterprises can provide and are relying on import for a large proportion up to 60% and is a good market potential for Chinese enterprises of ceramic chemicals.

Vietnam Capacity

Vietnam’s ceramic tile industry has kept growing dramatically in recent years and has possessed about 100 ceramic production enterprises up to date to cover production of glazed tiles, porcelain tiles, polished tiles and sanitary wares, of which 60% are distributed in the north, 20% in the south and 20% in the middle and boundary areas.

In the southern area, about 20 enterprises have relatively standard management with rather high level, typically in Vung Tau area, where many ceramic enterprises are constructed in early time with investment by Taiwan enterprises, which are quite similar to the ceramic enterprises in Eastern China and have high grade products, while the 60% located in the north are Vietnam local enterprises producing ceramic tiles of lower grade.

About 5-8 years ago, Vietnam’s ceramic companies imported ceramic production lines mainly from Italy and Spain, with each line has a daily production capacity of about 300-4000m2 on average and the products are mostly glazed floor and wall tiles, especially interior wall tiles and small floor tiles of 200x200mm, 300x300mm sizes, which occupies 80-90% of the total ceramic production, with the remaining 10-20% being porcelain tiles and polished tiles.

The continuous development of local economy after year 2010 gave Vietnam ceramic tile industry brings a new development period for Vietnam ceramic tile industry and up to date the ceramic tile industry has expanded by completing a group of new production lines.

According to Mr. Wang Hongze, China office director of Vietnam ceramic association, the daily production of the newly completed lines has reached a level of 12,000-15,000m2 for each, several times more than before, and the proportions of porcelain tiles and polished tiles are both increased to amount to 20% of the total. And also, the sizes of the local ceramic tiles are increased from the previous 400x400mm and 500x500mm to the current sizes of 600x600mm and 800x800mm.

Favored by the stable external political situation in recent and subsequently domestic demand for ceramic tiles, Vietnam’s ceramic tile production keeps going up, and statistics show that in year 2015 the output came to 440 million m2, going up to take the leading position in Southeast Asia.

Currently, the Vietnam ceramic tile industry has been busy putting in production lines of 20,000m2 daily capacity for each and a small number of production lines of a daily production capacity of 20,000m2 has already been put into normal operation. Nowadays, inkjet printing device is no longer new technique anymore and ceramic tiles of size 600x600mm and 800x800mm have become common products.

 

Tile Production

Mr. Huang Guoqing, General Manager of Foshan Aosibo Ceramic Technical Co., told the journalist that Vietnam ceramic tile products have experienced four times upgrading. The first upgrading is a change from red tiles of extremely high water absorption to 200x200mm and 300x300mm small glazed tiles, with some spotted porcelain tiles. Approximately after year 2000, the Vietnam ceramic tile enterprises began to produce polished tiles, which were subsequently upgraded by means of double layer technology and then by year 2014, they began to produce glazed-polished tiles. It is the market, he further commented, demand to drive the successive upgrading of Vietnam ceramic tile product. Nowadays, glazed tile account for 80-90% of the total ceramic tiles in Vietnam while porcelain tiles and polished tiles only 10-20%.

Upgrading Period

Changes

Before Year 2000

Red tile → Glazed Tile (Small Size)

After Year 2000

Began to Produce Polished Tile

By Year 2014

Began to Produce Glazed-Polished Tile

Nowadays

80-90% Glazed Tile

According to Mr. Qiu Ziliang, General Manager of Foshan Zitao Ceramic Technology Co., introduced that the structure of Vietnam ceramic tile is restricted by the local resources. Vietnam has little amount of raw material suitable for polished tiles, especially lack of premium kaolin and feldspar. It is well known that polished tile is white body, but Vietnam’s raw materials are suitable for red body products, which is more suitable for double firing interior wall tiles.

Huang further supplemented that the local climate can account for the reason why most of Vietnam ceramic enterprises prefer to produce glazed ceramic tiles. Glazed tile have a good characteristic for heat dissipation to meet the requirement of local customers, who are used to step on the glazed tile with bare foot and feel very comfortable.

The production capacity of Vietnam ceramic tiles keeps increasing, while most of the products are not for meeting the growing domestic demand, but instead, it is mainly for export. Vietnam is a member country of ASEAN and it has favorable geographical position with a long coastal line. Furthermore, all ASEAN member countries except Indonesia and the Philippines where they have their own ceramic tile industry are relying on import for ceramic tiles and this helps create favorable situation for Vietnam’s ceramic product export. On the top of all these factors, Vietnam can have some preference trade policy granted by other countries because of its poor basis for industrial development.

However, it is difficult for Vietnam to catch up with China in terms of ceramic tile quality. One reason is that the materials such as feldspar, kaolin, earth and so on in Vietnam are processed out of their small and poor mines that have not only poor quality but very little quantity for only 3-5 days exploitation which, compared with materials from premium mines for 3-5 years exploitation, has to be mixed with materials from other places and consequently leads to unstable product quality.

The Rise of Premium

It is also said that the premium rate of ceramic tiles produced by Vietnam companies is around 80% and only a small number of their companies can have a premium rate of 90%, with certain companies reaching 95%, including the well-known VIGLACERA group. However, Chinese ceramic tile enterprises normally have a premium rate of over 90%, and a premium rate of 80% is close to the edge of deficit operation. Beside limitations of local raw materials for ceramic production, the production level and technology are also factors to affect the premium rate of products.

However, due to the slow-down of the world economy development as well as the rapid increase of ceramic product output in Vietnam, the domestic sales of ceramic tiles in Vietnam began to go down since the second half of 2015 and, as a result, poor sales and great increase of storage occurred. Therefore, the expansion tendency of production lines is not as strong as it was expected. In recent years, only about 20 new production lines were completed there each year and the number of lines with a long kiln of 200-250m is only about 5 among all the production lines completed in recent three years.

In spite of the situation mentioned above, all the production lines currently in operation are imported ones, mostly from China in recent years. The technology of ceramic production in Vietnam is comparatively backward, especially on aspects of automatic control, energy conservation and environmental protection, and the prices of Chinese ceramic production technology and upstream ceramic equipment are well suitable for Vietnam ceramic enterprises.

At the same time, the chemical components used in Vietnam for ceramic production such as frits, colors/glazes and peptisation agents are mostly imported from China, with some imported from Spain and other countries. According to Mr. Qiu Shaoliang, 60% of the chemicals used in Vietnam ceramic production are imported from China and 40% are locally produced in Vietnam. A frit plant is under construction in HUI Vietnam mainly due to the rich resource of silica sand needed for production of frits.

(Edited from Magazines: Asian Ceramics, NO. AC17-4, Page46-49)

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