Despite the widespread use of modern materials that have a long service life and good consumer qualities, ceramic products are still relevant. Ceramic dishes are fragile and quite expensive, compared, for example, with plastic. However, good thermal conductivity and, most importantly, environmental safety of this material compensates for all its shortcomings.
The competition in the ceramic tableware market is high, including among Russian manufacturers. The situation is complicated by the fact that the capacity of this segment of the Russian market can be determined only approximately, since it is part of the market for household goods and is evaluated in conjunction with other segments. It is known that dishes make up about a third of the total market for all household goods. It accounts for about $ 700 million.
Despite the fact that products from various materials are presented here - from glass to metal, nevertheless, until recently ceramic and porcelain ware were leading (about 70% of the total production of dishes).
The main trends that have been observed on the Russian ceramic tableware market over the past few years are the annual decrease in production volumes (a particularly significant decline occurred in the 2009-2010s) and a simultaneous increase in unit prices. On the other hand, in early 2009 the year there was a sharp decline in imports of dishes due to the depreciation of the ruble and problems with lending to imports. Now the volume of ceramic products in our country is about 250 million products and 2.6 billion rubles in value terms per year, and the annual growth rate of ceramic imports from other countries is 20-30%.
In general, market growth is gradually slowing. Experts say that the time has come for the production of ceramic and porcelain and earthenware dishes. There have been practically no new companies over the past year, not counting small semi-artisan enterprises. Most of the plants are closed or redesigned, as the workload is only 10%.
It is worth noting that compared with Western countries, the ratio of domestic production and imported from other countries (mainly China) has long been in favor of Russian companies, while abroad, local manufacturers have long lost ground to Chinese enterprises. Experts attribute this to the fact that since Soviet times, domestic products have been in great demand among consumers due to its high quality. Both nostalgia and confidence in the safety of Russian ceramics play a role. Now the situation has changed somewhat.
The main share of sales in the Russian market of tableware falls on imported products (especially in the porcelain segment). According to analysts, porcelain production in our country is reduced by more than 2 thousand tons per year. Experts attribute this to obsolescence of equipment and, as a result, low quality and high cost of finished products. Among the countries that supply their products to Russia, China leads (about 40% of total imports). And in the segment of ceramic and porcelain products with a value above the average, European manufacturers prevail. The main countries importing ceramics: Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Japan, Great Britain. The share of imported porcelain products on the Russian market is 80%, but every year it is gradually decreasing, which cannot but please domestic producers.
At the same time, the consumption of dishes from these materials in our country is constantly growing (an increase of about 7% per year). Experts are sure that this indicator will increase as population incomes increase. This is largely due to the rapid development of the HoReCa professional tableware segment (hotels, restaurants, cafes), which makes up about 20% of the market.
The increase in prices for ceramic dishes is mainly associated with an increase in the cost of raw materials (the growth rate is about 30% per year). About 10% of the raw materials used by domestic manufacturers of ceramics are imported from abroad (mainly from Ukraine). The selling price per ton of clay in our country is about $ 100. The cost of clay imported from Ukraine is almost two times lower. In addition, raw materials from domestic deposits are often inferior in quality to the clays of Ukrainian deposits. In our country, several dozen enterprises produce ceramic and porcelain products. Most of it is exported to neighboring countries, as well as to the USA and Germany.
Experts note the following development trends in the domestic market of ceramic and porcelain products: consumers prefer glassware, demand is shifting towards the low and middle price segment, the demand for everyday products and professional dishes for catering establishments is growing.
There are several classifications of ceramic products. The widest separation is depending on the destination. So, they distinguish industrial building ceramics, technical, artistic, decorative and household. The first categories include brick, facing and floor tiles, tiles, tiles. And to the second two - pottery, dishes (plates, salad bowls, cups, dishes, pots, pans, coconuts, baking dishes, etc.) and decorative products from porcelain, faience and majolica (aroma lamps, ceramic sculptures, decorative figurines, caskets, aquarium ceramics, vases, lamps, etc.).
Ceramic products, like glass, are classified as silicate products. These products are made of plastic clay materials that are fired to give them strength. Depending on the components that make up the mass and the firing temperature, the ceramic can be either solid or porous. Before firing, part of the product is covered with glaze, which is a thin layer of glassy mass. This is necessary not only for the aesthetic effect: the glaze resists the absorption of dirt and moisture by ceramics.
Pottery is made from simple painted clay. They can also be glazed and unglazed. Products from porcelain and earthenware are made of white clay and differ in structure: in earthenware it is porous, and in porcelain sintered (solid). Majolica is a product of white or lightly colored clay with embossed patterns on the body, covered with colored glaze. Specialists divide ceramics into coarse and thin. The first includes pottery, and the second - products from porcelain, faience and majolica.
For the production of ceramic products, plastic and thinner materials are used, as well as fluxes (another name is fluxes). Plastic substances include various types of clays and kaolin. Strictly speaking, kaolin is also a clay substance, usually white, which consists of kaolinite. Depending on the impurities that make up the mixture, clays can have different melting points and a variety of colors.
If the coloring is associated with the presence of impurities of organic origin in the raw material, then, as a rule, during firing such a product acquires a white color (such types of clays are called white-burning). These materials are very plastic, but after firing they harden and turn into shards. Sagging materials are used to reduce the shrinkage of ceramic products. Clay during drying and firing shrinks, which, in turn, can lead to deformation and cracking of the product. The thinning materials, which include quartz, quartz sand, broken shards, etc., prevent this deformation, preserving the shape of the product almost in its original form. Fins, or fluxes are used for faster and more reliable sintering of ceramic material components (especially in the manufacture of solid ceramic products). For this, chalk, limestone or feldspar is usually used.
Opening own large-scale production is unprofitable. Small companies that work for a specific narrow segment or regional market, it is much easier to survive. Such production does not require large areas and expensive equipment. The main requirement: production facilities should be located on the outskirts of the city or beyond. In addition, there should be water, heating and electricity. In addition to production facilities, you will need premises for a warehouse, a bathroom, shower cabins.
The necessary equipment of the workshop includes: muffle furnaces, a rolling machine, a carousel, a ball mill for the production of glaze. To work in the shops will require a minimum of 3-4 workers per shift. In addition, you can not do without an accountant (you can turn to the services of an accounting firm). The duties of a purchasing and sales manager can be taken over at first.
Raw materials (white clay), as mentioned above, are usually bought in Ukraine. Therefore, immediately lay the costs of processing all documents and customs clearance. In time, this procedure will take about one week.
Raw materials must undergo a special treatment: first it is cleaned of harmful mineral inclusions, then it is crushed, milled, sieved through a sieve, mixed with other components. On the basis of clay, a slip is made - a liquid clay mass with a moisture content of about 35%. It is poured manually or using special equipment into molds and left there until completely solidified. Products of simple shapes (for example, plates) are molded from plastics with a moisture content of about 25% in gypsum molds using steel templates.
After this, the products are removed from the molds, dried and washed. Drying takes place either naturally (ovens are quite expensive, and small-scale industries do without them), or in convection ovens at a temperature of 70 to 90 degrees Celsius. Firing in furnaces is carried out in two stages.
Then the ceramic products are covered with glaze and fired. A full production cycle takes three to five days. The use of special drying ovens reduces these times by at least two times. One small workshop produces about 1000 products in one cycle.
The impeccable quality of your products is the main condition for its popularity among consumers. In assessing the quality of ceramic products, three main characteristics are of primary importance: the quality of the crock, glaze and decoration. Most manufacturers are guided by the so-called "technological regulations for the production of ceramic products."
Decide in advance on the assortment of products that you will produce. Let it be better small (20-30 items), which will avoid large stock balances. Ceramic dishes (pots, cups, tureens, etc.) are in greatest demand. Try to regularly update your range, removing obsolete models and offering new ones, focusing on the wishes of consumers and demand.
A business related to the manufacture of ceramic products is not considered seasonal, although this factor still has a certain effect on it. For example, in the southern regions of our country, dishes are in particularly high demand from September-October to April. In the hot season, people cook much less often, respectively, the sales of dishes sharply reduced. Also, the work of the production itself can be suspended at high humidity, as the ceramic absorbs moisture well, which leads to an increase in the amount of marriage. Consequently, production volumes in rainy autumn or too warm winter will be lower than in other months.
At least 3.5 million rubles will be required to open own ceramic production. The profitability of such a project is about 25-30%, and the payback period is from 3 years. You can buy an existing business (there are enough offers on the market). It will cost 6-7 million rubles (including rent of production facilities).
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