Glazing care and repair
Nights are drawing in, leaves are falling and glass is cracking. Autumn is here and with it the colder weather, a common cause of cracks in glass getting bigger. As that bit more care is required with glass in the winter months, Chris Peat has spoken to some of the main companies concerned with looking after your glazing.
‘Winter is coming,’ said Neil Skidmore, Director of Esprit Windscreen Repair Systems. ‘The problem is a stone chip sits there happily over summer, but when cold weather hits, the thermal stress of cold air on the outside and warm on the inside with heaters on, causes the glass to expand and contract at the same time, causing the whole crack to worsen. Damage needs to be repaired as soon as possible.’
Esprit provides windscreen repair kits, including all the equipment needed to fill the smallest stone chip to a large crack. Its equipment is regularly updated and is backed up by training provision in how to use it. When asked about the advantages of owning a repair kit over using contractors to repair glass, Neil said, ‘If you call a guy out to do the job then it’s better than nothing. However, the advantages are, a, cost and b, avoiding downtime. Talking to operators at the CV Show, downtime is a big thing that people want to avoid.’
To better its service to customers, Esprit has redesigned its website (www.espritws.com) to make it more user friendly and to improve access via mobile devices.
Not only can you get Esprit’s equipment from the company direct, but Dinitrol, also known for rust proofing products, supplies it too.
Scratch removal is the next big thing for GT Glass, which has released a kit for doing just this. Proprietor, Ian Sprigg, said the equipment has for some time been the ‘Holy Grail’ of windscreen repair. He claims many have tried and there are other similar products on the market, but these he says have resulted in distorted glass following the repair. Ian said what sets his kit apart is it is a ‘dry’ process, rather than the ‘wet’ ones commonly available. The four stage abrasive system sees the scratch damage removed leaving just a haze. Once the etching is gone, the glass can then be polished to achieve a good finish.
Ian believes the scratch removal kit will be popular on buses, particularly on the upper deck of double deckers where considerably more graffiti is found. He has already sold the kit into tram operations. Not only can it remove scratches from windscreens but from headlights too, as well as being able to resolve wiper blade scratches. The set includes everything needed to carry the job out and it can be combined with GT Glass’s windscreen repair equipment.
If you require someone to come out and carry out scratch repairs for you, Chicago Glass are available. The company specialises in polishing, repairs and filming of glass. It has technicians across the UK, providing a next day service. The company has experience working on all types of glass surfaces and facades. It strives to use the latest equipment for its work and promotes the fact its service is a fraction of the cost of replacing glass, with clients reporting savings of up to 85% over replacement units. Its polishing system is warranted and tested by BSI, SGS and Scientifics, claiming it removes scratches from glass without any distortion.
Chicago’s work includes removing scratches, etched graffiti, acid graffiti, sandpaper scratches and water damage along with other stains and marks. The company offers an anti-graffiti film, ‘Graffiti Gone’, which protects against etchings.
Elite Specialist Glazing
Perhaps surprisingly, Steve Plant, proprietor of bus and coach repair and replacement service, Elite Specialist Glazing, said it would be wise for operators to have their own repair kits. He said, ‘At the end of the day, the customer has to save money. These kits can sometimes help save, but the staff have to have the training and the time to do it. Quite a few of my customers just don’t have the time for this.’
Steve said he keeps taking on more and more customers. A considerable amount of his work comes from Facebook, where he reports receiving a lot of positive comments. Something that attracts work, he says, is the fact that when customers call they get straight through to him, the man who will actually be going out and doing the work. ‘There’s no call centre and that’s what you get with a small, independent and family run business like we are,’ he said. ‘We aim to be caring and friendly.’
Good response times are one of the things National Windscreen’s Alan Mealing says set his company apart. Alan and his team understand that operators cannot afford to have vehicles off the road for long periods of time. As such, the business aims to offer a same day/next day service. Alan said, ‘Customer service is paramount.’
National Windscreens has continually reviewed its health and safety procedures, an area Alan said has changed massively over the years. It has invested in lifting equipment to hoist windscreens into place, making this job safer and easier. It makes sure everyone in its teams has extensive training and the required NVQ qualification to carry the work out.
Another big development is how they use IT, with the company now tracking all its vans. This enables the business to monitor the whereabouts of its fleet, allowing it to better respond to customers. This is essential, claims Alan, as customer expectations in the competitive bus and coach glazing repair market have ‘changed considerably’. He said, ‘Fleets just don’t have spare vehicles like they used to. If the glass is damaged in one of them, then they need it repairing as soon as possible.’
Alan said National Windscreens is continually developing its service, actively recruiting and aiming to grow further.
When it comes to repairing your own glazing versus calling someone out to do it for you, Sharon Blackmore of PCV glass repair and replacement specialist, Reglaze, said, ‘Repairs are good and where customers can get a small repair complete it is obviously more cost effective for them. However, the size of the breakage would determine whether they require a full screen, side bay or glass replacement. If this is the case they would need to call a professional, reliable service like Reglaze who cover the UK and Europe 24/7.’
When Reglaze says Europe, it means Europe. The company has been known to go as far afield as Austria to repair glazing, battling extremely wintery conditions.
Sharon said, ‘We have teams of qualified fitters available for existing customers and new. Customers only have to call one number (01274 870919) to speak to a qualified on call fitter or our sales office where their query will be dealt with straight away. There can be nothing more frustrating than having a coach full of customers and a broken screen, then having to jump through loops to get your query sorted. Quality and service first time – why compromise?’
Carlyle Bus and Coach
One of the biggest suppliers of glazing in the market is Carlyle Bus and Coach. The business imports its glass from several manufacturers from throughout Europe. It keeps a vast stock of glazing to ensure it can supply from its warehouse in most occasions, speeding the turnaround time. What it keeps in store is determined by what vehicles customers have. It keeps an eye on what the most popular vehicles are and stocks accordingly.
Carlyle’s Glass Manager, David Glennon, said, ‘One of the biggest changes over the past 20 to 25 years in bus and coach glazing is that in the past the glass was fitted into rubber. Now they are mostly directly bonded materials being used. They are glued in now, to use layman’s terms.’
Another of the industry’s big glass suppliers is PSV Glass. The bus and coach glazing supplier has a stock of 120,000 pieces across a range of 29,000 glass parts, which are distributed nationally on a daily basis. It can provide on site technical support, customised glass storage systems and glass installation training.
PSV Glass has a network of installation and glass servicing companies. One of which is Bus and Coach Glazing, which was originally formed in 1993 as the Plaxton Accident and Repair Centre. Originally set up for Plaxton and Duple owners, the firm grew its provision capabilities to other brands. In 2009 it signed a full distribution agreement with PSV Glass and two years later became a part of the company, which acquired it from Plaxton. Similarly, 1st Glass has been added to PSV Glass’s portfolio of bus and coach glazing service providers.
A name synonymous with windscreen repair is Autoglass, which has its Autoglass Specials division for its work on bus and coach fleets. Its aim is to ensure vehicle downtime is kept to a minimum, focusing on providing an efficient, high quality service. It claims to have the largest fleet of fully equipped mobile repair units in the business, operating one of the UK’s largest networks and manned by specialist technicians.
Some of Autoglass Special’s most recent bus and coach related news includes winning a three-year contract to provide the entire National Express fleet with glazing repair services. The contract started in March this year and is the first time the two have worked together in such a way. Network Purchasing Manager at National Express, Andy Hall, said, ‘This agreement gives National Express and its operators nationwide cover and a rapid response to help keep our vehicles moving 24 hours a day, ensuring we continue to provide our customers with industry leading service.’
For those looking to repair and replace glass themselves, one good place to start is with JT Handtools. Well known for its Windscreen Wizard glazing removal solution, the business also manufactures and supplies tools to the automotive glass industry. The company’s specialist manufactured tools are designed to be of supreme quality, carrying lifetime guarantees. The product range continues to grow and includes clip removal devices, consumables and safety wear, glass handling tools, glass repair products, windscreen clips, sensor tack gels and pads and more.
Director, Richard Vaughan, said, ‘Over the last three decades we have worked hard to build up good relationships with clients all over the place and because we are a family-run business who put the customers’ needs first, people are keen to work with us. Also, because our warehouse is always well stocked if people get in touch needing a specific product we can get this to them as quickly as possible with a minimum of fuss.’
JT Handtools’ Windscreen Wizard is a specialised bespoke manufactured product, which allows the user to remove a whole windscreen in minutes using a system of wires and suction cups. The wire removal system for modern day windscreens has been designed in conjunction with specialist engineers, windscreen removal companies and windscreen technician experts.
A relatively new name in the world of bus and coach glazing is Vapor Ricon. It will not be unheard of to readers though, as the company provides wheelchair lifts and other accessibility equipment. The business has launched its three-minute window, which is designed to negate the need to remove the frame from the vehicle when replacing glass. Designed for rapid window replacement, it uses a patented metal retainer system to securely fix the glazing into the frame. This reduces the time spent removing rubber grommets before replacing windows that have been damaged or marked by graffiti.
The windows are featured in both CityView, which benefits from a hidden frame and provides a sleek, seamless presentation of the glazing surface and Standard frame designs. Both styles are available in various configurations to meet the exact requirements of each application and are kitemarked to meet all UK and European standards. The three-minute window is fully compatible with Glass Guard, an acrylic and polycarbonate window liner to protect against graffiti. Other available options are tempered or laminated glass, various tints and film treatments ideal for passenger comfort and Heat Guard, a solar management glazing for warmer climes. This specially treated glazing minimises heat infiltration and reduces energy costs by reducing the impact on the vehicle’s air conditioning system.