Large slabs are no doubt the most heated topic in China’s ceramic world in recent months. More and more ceramic companies have invested or planned to build plants that can produce large slabs. For example, New Pearl Ceramics currently has two large slab production lines under construction and plans to produce 70 thousand square meters of large slabs per day in the future.
With all the capacity available plus under construction, China’s daily productivity of large slabs may reach 450 thousand square meters at least.
Mr. Deng Yong, Deputy President of New Pearl Ceramics said, the properties of large slabs make it possible to apply such products in a variety of fields, mainly in home furnishing. New Pearl therefore came to the decision to expand its capacity in large slabs.
To further explore the application of large slabs, the organizer of UNICERAMICS EXPO held a second forum on the future of large slabs in China yesterday. Cross-industry dialogues by the leading ceramic companies and the furniture companies were made in the forum.
Photos: representatives of the attending companies were discussing with the hosts.
How Better Apply Ceramic Slabs in Furniture？
“There are three sales channels for large ceramic slabs in our company— furniture application, home decor and engineering decor. ” Mr. Luo Liangzhao, General Manager of Guangdong Zhongyan New Material Technology Co. Ltd which specializes in producing large slab products said. “The dominating channel at present is in furniture. ” Mr. Guo Guowei, General Marketing Manager of Linghang Yanban also said that Linghang’s large slabs were mainly sold in the furniture sector.
With more and more furniture companies recognizing ceramic large slabs, what do they think large slabs can be better applied in furniture?
Mr. Zhu Fuzhan, General Secretary of Foshan Furniture Association said
“Cross-industry integration is not easy, for every industry has its own system in sales, maintenance and other aspects. Despite the advantages in hardness, wearability, and eco-friendliness, I still have three concerns about this new material. Firstly, design. Besides outstanding properties, large slabs should also have aesthetic performance which agrees with the interior designs. Secondly, price. For such a huge capacity, one furniture company can not have the ability to consume. So the price should be appropriate for group purchasing. Thirdly, safety. Ceramic companies should spare time and money to train their employees in the areas of processing, maintenance and logistics. ”
Ms. Li Hongyao, Deputy President of Landbond Furniture said
“Who better optimize the properties of large slabs will have better chances in the future. First, for thin slabs, the thinner and lighter, the better for the application in furniture. Second, for thick slabs, more mature in the full-body technology, more alike to natural stones. Third, who do a better job in processing will be favored in the market. Thin large slabs are demanded in the market. Our company now imports slabs from Italy because they have better textures. So, I suggest ceramic companies focus on optimizing every characteristic of the large slab while considering the furniture channel.”
Mr. Chen Wei, Marketing Director of Wayes Customized Furniture said
“We focus on the retail outlets. Our company classifies the customers into five categories: customers who need it, customers who want to improve their homes, customers who seek for enjoyment, customers who live in villas, and customers who are investors. In recent two years, especially under the impact of COVID-19, we find that no matter which category the customers are in, their spending power is declining and they all want to spend less for more. In other words, customers have higher expectations, especially in the age when appearance of everything matters. For example, customers who want to improve their homes require something look high-end but not too expensive. In this case we need to provide them with the products that look like marble. 40% of our customers have such demands. So I believe in the future market for large slabs.”
Will Ceramic Slabs Be an Alternative to Stones？
Red Leaves Furniture, which ranks in the top three of China’s office furniture, founded a new brand named Weilai Yilai last year, which specifically produces furniture that are made of ceramic slabs. According to its president Mr. Lai Jionghong, they had high expectation in large slabs because they run into such products in the furniture exhibitions abroad. Mr. Lai said large slabs were mostly used in dinner tables as an affordable luxurious product. “I am optimistic in the future of large slab processing industry and large slab furniture. In Beijing, I have heard that there had been trademark buildings that used large slabs in the interior decoration. I believe there will be only more in the future.”
With such comment on the development of large slabs, will stones be replaced by ceramic large slabs in the future?
Mr. Gong Meihua, President of Topteck Stone Sharing Platform said
“Large ceramic slabs have two advantages over stones— production capacity and marketing capability. However, ceramic slabs still cannot compare to natural stones for stones are natural. Or why do you think all the ceramic companies work so hard to make their products look like marble? In my opinion, ceramic slabs cannot replace natural stones. Therefore ceramic companies should focus on how to make the best use of ceramic slabs in applications. In one of our projects, our customer did not have enough budget to purchase marble products. We then recommended ceramic slabs which could as well adapt to their style of decoration with a much cheaper price. At the end, every one was happy.”
Mr. Xue Jian, General Manager of Lingbiao Technology said
“Our company produces quartz stone and artificial stone, which are mainly used in kitchen countertops. Since last year, ceramic slabs have catched our attention. We purchased related machinery from Sacmi and System. Our large slab lines will operate in this August. However, in my opinion, ceramic slabs can not replace stones at present, as ceramics slabs have several flaws especially the breakage rate during processing. No matter what the price is, with such high breakage rate, the cost is high too.”
Mr. Fu Zhonghai, General Manager of Jinqiang Yanban Furniture said
“To build a large ceramic slab procution line, you need at least 100 million yuan. It will be not easy for a stone company to engage in large slab production. I think in the future, only the leading companies with renowned brands can succeed in the market. Large slabs are still in the early stage comparing to ceramic tiles. What we need to do is to know the demands of our customers. Now demands surpass supplies in the market so few people realize this. When more and more large products are put in the market, the problems during processing will be solved.”
Ceramic Enterprises' Opinions on
Developing Large Slabs？
Mr. Meng Zhengqiang, General Manager of Lvwujianke of Monalisa Ceramics said
“Monalisa Ceramics is the first ceramic company in China that stepped into the production of large slabs. We began the production since 2007. Now, large slabs have gained more and more popularity in China. Even non-ceramic companies are also involved in the area. I think there is still huge space for the development of large slabs and the market will continue to grow.”
Mr. Chen Qinxian, General Marketing Manager of Xinzhongyuan Ceramics said
“China is a big manufacturer. Producing capacity is never a problem. In my opinion, the most important things lie in exploring more sales channels and building up well-recognized brands. Xinzhongyuan plans to develop the product with the concept of making unique designs and qualified products from the perspectives of processing, logistics, installation and design to satisfy our customers. In addition, we invest in the fields of pre-fabricated buildings. Large slabs have great potential in prefabs.”
Mr. Thomas, General Manager of SITI B&T in Foshan said
“In the beginning of 2019, we wanted to promote the presses that could manufacture large slabs in China but with few companies asking. Now we are happy to know that large slabs have become popular in China. SITI B&T's SUPERA technology that can produce large slabs with a thickness from 3 mm to 30 mm, and a width from 1600 mm to 4200 mm. As a ceramic machine manufacturer, SITI B&T always focuses on quality as well as cost-saving.”
According to Mr. Li Xinliang, General Manager of UNICERAMICS EXPO, 9 large slab machinery enterprises have registered to attend this year’s UNICERAMICS. There will also be an exclusive hall for large ceramic slabs. Moreover, in order to provide a platform for deeper communication among industries, the 2020 UNICERAMICS also has invited the Architectural Society of China to hold forums discussing the architectures in medical and health institutions, public transport stations and modular buildings.
This is the 390th issue.