Automatic Braking and the Glass Industry

“I read with interest the article recently printed in Automotive News and linked on glassBYTEs.com™ “Automatic Braking Standard: ‘New Model’ or ‘Safety Sellout’?” The article outlines the debate between having regulatory mandated braking systems in new vehicles versus a voluntary buy-in by carmakers. Either way, this change is coming and the automotive glass industry needs to be prepared.” —Bob Beranek

As you may expect, the argument is political. One camp wants carmakers to voluntarily equip new models with the lifesaving system by the 2022 model year and the other wants the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to go through procedural steps to make it law and force the system to be included in all vehicles sold in the U.S. I’ll let the article speak for itself, but my question is, will the automatic-braking systems be a friend to the automotive glass industry or will it make our installations more difficult and less profitable?

If you run an automotive glass shop that replaces broken windshields, you are already in the business of restoring a safety device. Most of us would not put money over the safety of our customers. There are more than 32,000 lives lost on the roadway every year, and we all should be looking to save as many of those lives as possible, no matter what the circumstances.

However, when every car sold in 2022 has a camera to detect obstructions and stop the vehicle, there will be changes to the way we do business. When every vehicle has Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), there certainly could be some benefits, but there is no doubt that businesses will have to adapt.

Here are some challenges that may occur if you decide to take on calibration as an added service:

  • It could cost thousands of dollars in investment to add calibration services to your business’s offerings.
  • Additional training will be needed for technicians to complete the calibrations properly.
  • It could lead to higher insurance costs to cover liability if calibration is done incorrectly and for coverage to drive the customer’s car during calibration procedures.
  • No more mobile installations on ADAS vehicles. Calibrations must be done in conditions that are controlled and manageable.
  • More OEM glass used. This could be a benefit due to better fitting parts but could cost more with lower mark-ups.

The positive side of this development:

  • Added revenue generated from your new added calibration services.
  • Fewer trucks on the road and fewer expenses that come with mobile service. This would reduce fuel, insurance and maintenance costs on trucks and wasted manpower driving from one location to another.
  • Fewer poorly fitting parts and resulting customer complaints.
  • By developing a relationship with all of the dealerships in your area, you could convince them that you could do their glass work on their site and bring customers to them.
  • A benefit may be a reduction in competition. Many competing service providers do not have the finances to invest in equipment, facilities and training necessary to offer calibrations. However, added competition may come from the local dealerships.

I know that change is never easy. However, if handled professionally and correctly, this change could work to your benefit. We have been given an opportunity to look into the future. While many of us may not like what we see, we can make plans to deal with the change before it happens. In life, we rarely get these warnings in advance. Let’s be thankful for the power of forethought.