by Bob Beranek
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I would like to share a Honda commercial sent to me by my friend Mark Daniels, a technical advisor for GGG-Gold Glass Group, AEGIS Tools International Inc. and other companies in the automotive glass industry. This video, which ran in Europe several years ago, is called ‘The Cog’ and it intrigued me because it contains several references to automotive glass. The video is the type of ‘Rube Goldberg’ invention which takes a simple task and creates a series of complicated steps to accomplish the action.

To view the video, click here.

Of course, as a technical trainer, when I see these types of inventions, I have the need to figure out “why” and “how” the process works. It is kind of like trying to figure out a magic trick for me. I am not an expert in physics or mechanical engineering, but here is what I don’t understand about the progression.

  • How do wheels travel uphill with a little boost from another tire? At the 25 second mark in the video a tire makes contact with a series of three more wheels going up a ramp. I just cannot see how that is possible. It could just be me.
  • How does a non-rain sensor windshield run a wiper mechanism to start a door glass mobile? At the 1:19 mark a piston head is tapped into the door glass that opens and allows the piston head to fall down onto a battery that stimulates the wiper washer to wet a “non-rain sensor” windshield that triggers the wiper mechanism. Is this a discrepancy?
  • Are the parts used in the commercial supposed to be from one vehicle? If that is the case, at the 1:25 mark in the video they are using four front door glasses in the door glass mobile instead of two front door glasses and two back door glasses. Which would go against the “parts of one vehicle” theory.
  • Lastly, this process doesn’t contain all natural movement. At the 1:56 mark the vehicle is stopped with the application of the brakes. You can see it. It does not coast to a stop nor does it come in contact with a wheel stop.

So, how does this pertain to glass installation? This commercial is a metaphor for the complexity of the modern day vehicle and the importance of how all the different parts work together to create a dependable working product. We, as automotive glass technicians, do the same thing. We disassemble and reassemble all of the parts we are responsible for in such a way as to make sure that they all work together properly and safely. There are tens of thousands of parts in an automobile and all must work together to provide a safe vehicle for the occupants. We concern ourselves with a relative few of these parts, but the parts we are responsible for play an integral role in the safety system built into the vehicle.

The agency that created this commercial worked on it for more than six years to get it right. Shouldn’t we work on our art as hard as they did?

I thought it would be fun for my readers to see if they can find more discrepancies or explain the ones I pointed out.

A comment recently made on the glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR™ magazine Forum has raised a question we should all consider. In full disclosure, the comment was made regarding Auto Glass University (AGU), a training program I own, although this post is not meant as a commercial. I am giving you my opinion on the art of automotive glass training. I hope it can be used by everyone in the industry to be more effective in their training of new technicians, no matter where or by whom the training is conducted.

Here is the statement that made me consider the “best practices” of automotive glass training:

“Having gone from glazier to installer to technician in the past 50 years, taking the AGU course and then trying to go out and replace glass is like mastering the ‘See Spot Run’ book and then trying to read an encyclopedia. I trained many people over the years and it takes a minimum of six months of constant guidance and training to get them to the beginner level of doing replacements.”

Of course, no one will “master” automotive glass installation in a week. However, if it takes you six months to get your tech to the “beginner” level, you either have the wrong guy or you’re doing it wrong.

It takes knowledge of basic principles, exposure and practice on specialized tools, experience in different vehicles and skills developed over time. However, the quickest and safest way for a tech to get productive is by working with an experienced instructor who allows the student to study with a specific curriculum in a controlled environment at a comfortable pace and to learn from their mistakes.

I have spent most of my career training automotive glass technicians and one of the biggest hurdles I’ve seen to effective education was managers sending new techs on a “ride along” with experienced people but then prioritizing production over training. You might say, “Hey, the work has to get done.” Yes it does, but if the job completion takes precedence over instruction, don’t expect the trainee to be productive in a timely manner.

If the trainee doesn’t have the opportunity to do the work himself and to develop good habits and techniques because the jobs need to get done before dark, the training that day was worthless. This prolongs the training and the costs involved. It also shows the trainee how to short cut and make improper concessions for the sake of time. Training this way can and will take six months or more to complete.

While new tools and vehicle designs make the art of installation physically easier, the technology built into those vehicles means that doing our jobs right is critical for the safety of our customers. There is a place for riding in a truck with a productive technician, but it is only after the new tech as received a firm grounding in the basics. The ride-along-trainer may be excellent in teaching “how to” install given the proper time, but does he know “why” the glass needs to be installed in a specific way?

When decisions need to be made, the “how to” learner does not have the flexibility to consider options that the “why” learner does. Decisions are harder to make, and a poorly trained tech runs the risk of being wrong. A good training course gives new techs the facts and then backs those facts up with data. If your new tech steps into the field already knowing the “whys” of proper installation and then has the opportunity to practice the “how to” he will become productive in the shortest time possible.

Last weekend I read about the Obama administration’s negotiated agreements with auto companies on new fuel economy standards as dictated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In my classes I mention the fact that many of the new technological advances in automotive design and features are directly related to that agreement negotiated with the carmakers.

By the end of 2016, vehicles are required to meet an average 34.5 mpg standard, and by the end of 2025, they are required to meet a 54.5 mpg average. This is obviously quite the goal, but if the vehicle manufacturers didn’t think it was possible I doubt they would have agreed to the standard.

So, how are carmakers going to meet those fuel efficiency goals?

If the past is any indication, it is through making vehicles lighter weight and using technology to reduce fuel waste. We have already seen things that are going the way of fuel efficiency. For example we have already seen:

  • An increase in all glass roofs. Glass surfaces cut through the air with less friction than a painted surface. If the vehicle is more aerodynamic, the better the fuel economy.
  • Electric and hybrid vehicles. The more these vehicles are sold and made common, the more fuel is saved and the fewer new vehicles that require fuel are manufactured.
  • The use of composite materials and more aluminum. The introduction of the new F-150 Ford with an all-aluminum body is just the beginning of this material gaining acceptance. Let’s face it, aluminum is the metal of the auto market’s future.
  • The Advance Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) eliminate the human driver wastefulness. Lead feet, hard braking, jackrabbit starts are what oil companies pray for. The ADAS technology will eliminate the effect of many of those bad habits.
  • Lastly, lighter-weight glass. The Gorilla glass experiment on the Ford GT is one example of how the glass industry is trying to help the carmakers reach their goal. Even though the glass is only Gorilla glass on the inside layer, and so shouldn’t affect windshield breakage, it is substantially lighter in weight than the normal windshield we are used to.

Bob1 04072016So what does this mean to the automotive glass replacement industry? Increasing the glass surface is usually the first place car designers go to reduce weight. The more surface area in a vehicle that is glass, the better the aerodynamics. An added plus is that glass is relatively cheap in comparison to plastics, steel or aluminum and is made out of the most plentiful raw materials in the world, sand.

Since the introduction of press-bending glass, glass can come in very exotic shapes and sizes which assist carmakers in the goals for better fuel efficiency.

Bob2 04072016Take the Citroën in France for example, Citroën uses a windshield that takes up half of the roof offering better visibility and better fuel economy due to less drag from the moulding or top pinchweld. The glass is huge, but considering that Europe has been paying premium prices for fuel for decades, saving costs on fuel is as big an issue there,

The European model of glass design is one that will eventually come to the United States, due mostly to the fuel directive given by the EPA. But don’t be surprised if U.S. ingenuity doesn’t come up with even more. Why do I think that some of those ideas will involve automotive glass and its installation?