Ceramic Industry manufacture of useful and ornamental articles from clay by shaping and hardening it in high temperature. The industry is basically a development of indigenous pottery works. Broadly, ceramics denote the manufacture of any product made from a non-metallic mineral hardened at high temperatures. Industrial ceramics comprise all industrially used solid materials that are neither metallic nor organic. Major ceramic products include glass, earthenware, porcelain, and white-ware, porcelain enamels, brick tiles and terracotta, refractories, cement, lime and gypsum.
The art of pottery is perhaps as old as human civilisation. Initially, it started with clay and then passed through stages of moulding various media like wood, stone, shell and metal before reaching the age of ceramic and porcelain. Bengal passed through all these stages before reaching the ceramic age. Ceramic industry took a formal start in this country in 1958 with the establishment of Tajma Ceramic Industries Ltd. at bogra. It is the oldest modern ceramic manufacturing plant in Bangladesh and is also the only ceramic factory located in North Bengal. Its production was very small and the quality of the product was not good. The Pakistan Ceramic Industries Ltd. was established in early 1960s and it went into production in 1966. It manufactured ceramic products for the domestic market. It was renamed as Peoples Ceramic Industries Ltd after the independence of Bangladesh.
In 2011, Bangladesh has 21 ceramic industry units. Six of them are fairly large and these are Monno Ceramic Industries, Shinepukur Ceramic Industries, Bengal Fine Ceramic Industries, Standard Ceramic Industries, Far Ceramic Industries and Peoples Ceramic Industries. These companies produce high quality ceramic and porcelain wares. The annual production is about 15,000 tons of ceramic items. About 5,000 tons is exported to 45 countries. The remaining amount is consumed locally. Initially, all ceramic industries catered to the domestic market only.
The Tajma Ceramic Industries has a showroom and an export department in dhaka. It has been manufacturing porcelain tableware since 1958. Although it is the oldest producer of ceramics, the factory manufactures only about 12,000 pieces (4 m tons) of assorted tableware per day, which is about half the capacity of other major ceramic tableware manufacturing plants. The company has been catering mainly to the domestic market. The Peoples Ceramic Industries, located in Tongi Industrial Area, about 20 km north of Dhaka, is one of the oldest and largest ceramic companies in Bangladesh. The factory went into production in 1986. The production capacity of the factory is about 28,000 pieces of assorted tableware per day. The company however, has had little success in the export markets. Recently, the company has developed a new brand 'Super China';, which is drawing the attention of foreign buyers. Bengal Fine Ceramics Ltd. is the first industry in the country to make soft porcelain, which the company calls 'stoneware';. This is an off-white product manufactured by using local Mymensingh clay. The factory went into production in 1986. It produces about 24,000 pieces (6 m tons) of stoneware per day. From the very beginning, the company concentrated its trading activities in the international market and has been quite successful in its endeavour. Recently, the company has established a sister concern, Standard Ceramic Industries Ltd., near gazipur, about 30 km north of Dhaka.
The largest and most successful ceramic company in Bangladesh is the Monno Ceramic Industries Ltd, which started production in 1985 and manufactures very high quality porcelain tableware. This company has done well in the export market with its sales office in London and a permanent stall in the Frankfurt House-wares show. Shinepukur Ceramics Ltd was incorporated in 1997 with the aim of establishing a world-class bone china and porcelain tableware industry.
The company is located at Beximco Industrial Park, Gazipur. It started its porcelain and bone china units in April 1999 and November 1999 respectively. Since the beginning of its commercial operations in 1999, the company has distinguished itself as the fastest growing concern in the sector. It has captured about 60% of the domestic market share and is doing well in the global ceramic tableware markets.
About 95% of raw materials for making quality and exportable ceramic products in Bangladesh are imported from abroad. The materials are imported mainly from Japan, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea and India. The prime raw materials of ceramic products are white clay and sand. The largest deposit of white clay in Bangladesh was first discovered in 1957 at Bijoypur of mymensingh. The total reserve of white clay from this region is estimated to be 2.57 million tons. Clay was also found in jaflong of sylhet. But there is no clay or sand treatment plant at these places.
To ensure proper quality and goodwill all ceramic tableware producing units use high quality raw materials. The machinery and equipment are also modern and conform to the latest technology and standard. Each of the units has its own in-house laboratory facility, quality control and testing mechanism. The products that are being marketed now are: dinner sets, tea sets, coffee sets, soup sets, fruit sets, plates, bowls, flower vases, mugs and various types of souvenir items. Most ceramic products are ovenproof, chill-proof and dishwasher-proof and free from any chemical hazards.
At present, Bangladesh is exporting ceramic tableware to more than 45 countries, including the USA, Italy, Spain, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden. [Zakir Hossain Bhuiyan] [Bhuiyan, Zakir Hossain Professor of Marketing, Dhaka University]