Archive for October, 2011
Today we’re going to be talking with Bill George who is the Director of Marketing for Pilkington NGS. In that role Bill has many responsibilities including his participation in the developing the North American AGR product range, new model introduction, along with working on product life cycle, part acquisition and Key customer development. Bill has been with Pilkington NSG since 1997.
First let me thank you for participating in my blog Bill. I had the pleasure to introduce your session on “Glass Quality” that you participated in at Auto Glass Week 2011 in Memphis last month. I know that it was one of the best attended sessions and had a lot of very positive feedback on the information that you presented, which is one of the reasons I thought that there would be interest in hearing from you by those who were unable to attend Auto Glass Week.
With your extensive background working at one of the premier O.E.M. auto glass manufacturers in the World, I was wondering how you see the state of auto glass manufacturing in the United States?
Bill George: I see the state of auto glass manufacturing getting more and more complex in theU.S. marketplace. All the way from asymmetrical construction to intricate sensor clusters on and in the glass. Just a few years ago the primary value add component on a windshield was a molding.
Are there differences in the manufacturing processes for O.E.M. glass versus aftermarket manufacturers? Can you help us understand what those differences are?
Bill George: There are differences not only in the process of how the glass is made, but there are differences in the glass itself, as well as the quality of the value add and how it is applied. The primary differences manifest themselves in the areas of optical distortion, solar & acoustic specifications, sensor clusters, edge work, and surface control.
How do the different manufacturing processes affect the quality of auto glass?
Bill George: In many ways, here are two:
- Glass batch “ingredients”
- What you add to the glass itself has a great deal to do with its quality and performance. For example, there is no law requiring generic glass manufacturers to return a consumers windshield back to (or better than) its original solar performance specification, so they tend to leave out these components (less expensive to produce). This can lead to large temperature differences in a vehicle, requiring added air conditioning to keep the vehicle cool and increased Ultra Violet light exposure.
- Optical distortion
- In general it is more efficient (and less costly) to increase the flow rate of a furnace. This reduces the cost to manufacture glass and also can reduce the optical quality of the glass. Not meeting an O.E. optical performance specification means greater distortion to a manufacturer and potential eye fatigue, eye strain, and headaches to a consumer.
Pilkington NSG is an O.E.M. manufacturer with plants throughout the World. In how many countries do you currently manufacture auto glass?
Bill George: We have primary fabrication facilities at 32 sites in 16 countries around the world with a major presence in Europe,Japan, North America, andSouth America.
In how many of those countries do you manufacture O.E.M. auto glass parts?
Bill George: All of them.
What O.E.M. car makers does Pilkington manufacture O.E.M auto glass for?
Bill George: We supply every major vehicle manufacturer in the world.
Is your primary source of auto glass parts that you sell in the United States from Pilkington NSG O.E.M. plants?
Bill George: Yes, for example 97% of our windshields distributed in theU.S. come from a Pilkington plant.
Can you explain the advantages of O.E.M. auto glass versus others available in the marketplace?
Bill George: Getting this message to the consumer is important, it’s the reason we created the Pilkington Clear Advantage™ program. The advantages in getting glass manufactured to an original specification are many. A few key advantages are:
- Acoustic attenuation (think – my car is quiet when I drive)
- Solar Optimized (think – UV blocking & heat reducing)
- Premium Optics (think – undistorted line of sight across all glass parts)
- Precise surface control (think – wiper blades removing rain)
- Reduced or no acoustic properties (think – now I hear a lot more road, wind, and tire noise)
- Non-Solar Optimized properties (think – increased heat buildup in your car & needing to use the air conditioner a lot more which leads to added CO2, and reduced gas mileage)
- Poor optics (think – distortion leading to fatigue, eye strain & headaches)
- Poor surface control (think – wind noise & wiper blade missing spots)
Do all aftermarket windshields go through the same safety testing and quality control as O.E.M. windshields?
Bill George: All aftermarket windshields sold in the U.S. are required by law to meet minimum safety standards, but not quality controls. O.E. quality / performance specifications are much higher than generic glass.
Why should the driving public seek out glass shops that prefer to use O.E.M. glass as their replacement choice for their customers?
Bill George: With my technical hat on I would iterate the below points.
- Acoustic attenuation, Solar Optimization (UV & IR), Premium Optics, Precise surface control, Antennas with the same range, Sensors with the same range / effectiveness (critical in vehicles with collision avoidance & brake assist systems), and construction that is built to last.
With my consumer advocate hat on I would say, because it is what they deserve, what they are paying for, and what they believe they are getting.
When shopping for a new windshield, what questions should a consumer ask a glass shop regarding what glass will be installed in their vehicle?
Bill George: Here is what I would ask:
- Am I using a reputable installation facility?
- Am I getting replacement glass with equivalent performance specifications to my original equipment?
- Will my vehicle perform the same?
- Am I choosing replacement glass that meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?
- Am I getting a value by choosing a less expensive glass?
Thank you Bill for answering the questions I asked today. You’ve provided some excellent information and advice in understanding what the differences are between O.E.M. manufactured auto glass products versus the non-O.E.M. manufacturers.
Bill George: Thanks David, it’s always a pleasure to speak to auto glass specifications.
It’s pretty obvious that replacement auto glass that is manufactured by O.E.M. auto glass manufacturers provides consumers products with higher quality components and the most up-to-date engineering techniques that are required by the O.E.M. car manufacturers they make auto glass for today. Reverse engineering of auto glass used by non-O.E.M. manufacturers adds variables into the manufacturing process that can effect fit and quality to those seeking replacements; and with vehicles manufactured today versus cars of the past, fit and quality is a key to safety.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. I would appreciate any comments or thoughts you might like to share or ideas that you may have for topics.
If you’re an auto glass replacement (AGR) retailer, what is it you are entrusted to do when you replace a policyholder’s windshield?
I believe that any AGR retailer who replaces auto glass wants to do a good job, wants to do it right, wants to use the right urethane and primers. But does every retailer do that always?
If you work at an insurance company or an insurance agency, how do you advise your clients about who they should choose to replace their auto glass? What are the questions that should go through your customer’s mind when making this decision? What criteria could you suggest to help them make an informed choice?
- Is your decision based solely on price?
- If it is price, is that how you want your policyholders to make their decision when they’re buying their auto insurance?
- Is it a decision that you are leaving up to the network administrator (TPA) who probably doesn’t know nor checked the expertise of the auto glass company that you’ve entrusted through them to replace your policyholder’s glass?
- Does the TPA use the lowest priced company so that they can either “save” your insurance company money or make more money themselves?
- Are you actually using those auto glass companies that you believe in or that you’d like to have replace auto glass for your policyholders providing them the safest installation available?
- Are they following the AGRSS® standards?
- Are they following your guidelines?
Just as all insurance companies are not the same, neither are all auto glass companies the same. Normally every auto glass company has to follow pricing guidelines that insurance companies require the networks to follow. Those guidelines can cause bad behavior on the part of the auto glass company by their choosing to cut corners.
It seems to me that those companies that provide customers a 1 to 4 Hour Safe Drive Away Time, those companies who follow the AGRSS® standard, those companies who register with AGRSS® and open their shops to a third-party outside validation to the AGRSS® Standard should be the companies insurers seek out to replace their policyholders auto glass needs, especially since the price being charged is the same……..
What do you think?