Know the Products That You Use

I’ve trained automotive glass installation professionals all around North and Central America for many years. It never ceases to amaze me when the technicians who sit in my courses know little about the products they use. They know how to use their tools, they know the territory in which they work and they know how to take any vehicle apart blindfolded, but they know little about a vital product they use to accomplish their task and ensure the safety of their customers. I’m talking specifically about polyurethane.

Many of you have read lately of the ANSI acceptance of the new version of the AGRSS standard called 003-2015. There have been articles, seminars and discussions of the changes the new standard brings to our industry. Some were substantive changes that will affect the way we do business, while others were simply correcting language and reference points. While reading it over, I noticed a change that triggered memories of trainings past.

Section 6.4: “The vehicle owner/operator shall be notified prior to and after the installation process of the minimum drive-away time under the circumstances of the replacement.”

This part of the standard brings back the memories of the many times I ask technicians and owners the simple question, “What urethane do you use?” Some answers I get are:

  • “I don’t know, it’s in a white tube.”
  • “Sika.” Which kind of Sika? “I don’t know, I have to heat it.”
  • “I don’t know, it’s wrapped in tin foil.”
  • “I don’t remember the brand, my distributor recommended it.”

Then I ask, “What is the safe drive away time (SDAT) of the urethane you use?” Invariably the tech will say “one hour.” How can it be possible that you don’t know what brand or type of urethane you use, but you always know it’s one hour SDAT?

Obviously, if you don’t know the type of urethane, you don’t know the drive-away time either. Maybe your boss or mentor told you at one time that the brand of urethane they use has a one hour SDAT. However, did they end up buying the lesser priced four-hour SDAT product and you just assumed nothing had changed? I urge my students that when changes are made to the products they use to read the labels and instructions. Obtain the technical data sheets to confirm what you are using and the performance features it delivers.

Many times businesses will shop around for products that cost less to enhance their profits, and far be it for me to condemn that practice. If a business owner is not trying to make more money through smart purchasing, he won’t be in business very long. However, when making any changes to the urethane you purchase, don’t assume the properties of one are just like another.

To avoid liability and keep your customers safe, it is vital to shop the details and make decisions based on what your business model and customers demand. Then train your technicians and support staff to understand the ramifications of the change. Now take what you know and communicate that with your customer. They will appreciate it and you will be in a safer place yourself.