A packed crowd of AGRR technicians and company owners descended on Baltimore for the Pilkington Auto Glass Technician Olympics’ finals on Thursday as the Auto Glass Week™ 2014 came to an end. For a list of the winners, click here. And education continued to take center stage. A hot topic at this year’s event was a look at the new and expanding world of autonomous driving vehicles. AGRR owners wanted to know just how these changes could impact their businesses.
Offering tips on how to prepare was Mitch Becker, technical instructor for ABRA Auto Body & Glass, in an educational session called “New Cars, New Challenges—What’s Coming from Detroit.”
“Every vehicle has its own unique design, construction and safety features, and every crash presents its own unique condition. As vehicle construction becomes increasingly complex, training must be reviewed and changed to meet the demands of today and tomorrow,” according to Becker.
One important thing to keep an eye out for is aluminum-bodied vehicles, Becker noted. As automakers strive to meet new CAFÉ Standards, they are turning more to this material. Aluminum is up to 30-percent lighter than steel. It is also corrosion resistant, dent resistant and tends to perform better in crashes, he said.
So what impact does this material have on replacements?
“Using steel tools on aluminum parts is not a good idea,” Becker explained. “You need to be aware of the material you’re dealing with. I need to give credit to all the wire tools out there. These can save you a lot of issues on aluminum products.”
Aluminum can be easier to work with and if the manufacturer calls for non-conductive urethane, use it, he added.
“If we use the wrong urethane on aluminum it can cause over-flex and corrosion later on,” Becker pointed out.
Are we going to see more aluminum vehicles in the near future? Of course, according to Becker.
In addition to keeping the material in mind when working, you also have to keep in mind how different parts of the vehicles can be tied together with collision warning systems.
Most lane monitor systems have stereo cameras, according to Rick Zirbes, of Dick and Rick’s Auto Interiors, who also presented. These cameras can sometimes be connected to the ABS instrument cluster and even steering, he pointed out. Every automaker has its own set of instructions to follow when a camera is moved or replaced.
“The changes in technology are affecting every part of the car, not just the glass,” he explained. “… You need to be aware of the electronics in vehicles and properly recalibrating these. … If you run into a windshield that involves recalibration of a camera, I would like to know about. We need to know if we have a problem with aftermarket versus manufacturer glass. We’re trying to get a database together and collect as much information as we can.”
“Glass not only is structural, but can hinder safety equipment [and keep it] from working correctly,” Becker said. “…The safety of the occupants are at stake if correct procedures are not followed.
“An incorrect windshield can result in huge safety system failures … Even more care is needed to verify you are using the right part [going forward],” he added.
Where is technology headed in the future? According to Zirbes, this includes:
—More cameras on or by the glass;
—Self-driving or near-self-driving cars; and
—More head’s up displays.
“The windshield will become a hub of information for the [vehicle] occupants,” he noted.
Auto Glass Week™ also served as a time for AGRR company owners to recognize the dedication and service of their fellow business owners. The Independent Glass Association (IGA) took a moment to recognize Rick Rosar of Minneapolis-based Rapid Glass with a special award for his service the industry. Deb Levy, president of Key Communications, was also recognized by the IGA.
Receiving the Ray Asbery Innovation Award during the Gala Awards Reception and Ceremony was Nick Gittins, manager of Techna Glass in Willard, Utah, for his use of an inspection mirror. Gittins, 36, has 16 years of experience in the industry. He is a National Windshield Repair Association Certified Repair Technician and Auto Glass Safety Council Master Auto Glass Technician. He and his wife, Heather, have four children, Makayla, David, Jonathan and Savannah.
Receiving the Ingenuity Award was Alfredo Calva, owner of Alfredo’s Auto Glass in Corona, Calif., for his use of a plastic scrapper. Calva, 30, has 14 years of experience in the industry. He and his wife, Susan, have three children, Alfredo, Miguel and Julian.
Jean Pero, sales manager for Mygrant Glass, received the Carl F. Tompkins Award for Excellence in Auto Glass Safety, while John King, retiring vice president of aftermarket at Sika Corp., was recognized with a new industry-wide achievement award during the opening ceremony.
The Pilkington Auto Glass Technician Olympics medalists are:
Gold Medalist: Chris Lewis, manager of Techna Glass in Salt Lake City.
Silver: Mark Browning of Glasspro in Goose Creek, S.C.
Bronze: Sam Shipley of Maryland Auto Glass in Biglerville, Pa.
The GlasWeld Windshield Repair Olympics Medalists are:
Gold Medalist: Chris Smith of Delta Sonic in Lake View, N.Y.
Silver: Braulio Lopez of Cristalbox in Lugo, Spain.
Bronze: Robert Rask of IntegraGlass in Orem, Utah.
For full coverage visit glassBYTEs.com and look for the November/December AGRR™ magazine.