Volume 10, Issue 3 - May/June 2008
Connecting the DOTs
In the last couple of years, suspicion has grown over imports from China—and recalls have been issued for products ranging from toothpaste to tires. And late last year, those recalls hit the auto glass industry, when Safelite Auto Glass (SAG) in Columbus, Ohio, a part of Belron US, issued a voluntary recall through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for certain parts from DOT No. 430, which is held by Hangzhou Safety Glazing Inc. SAG reported that one of its technicians had discovered an issue originally when installing a backlite on a Dodge Ram; the tempered part broke into large, dangerous shards while the tech was attempting to install it.
When the corporate office learned of this issue, it reported the issue to the company from whom it bought the glass, Auto Temp Inc. (ATI) in Batavia, Ohio. According to the report filed with NHTSA by SAG, ATI conducted testing initially on three parts about which SAG was concerned from this DOT number. Later, SAG requested more testing, and determined that a total of eighteen parts were found to be in noncompliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 205 (see charts for part numbers).
While SAG purchased 2,737 of the parts total originally from ATI, which had purchased the parts from Wholesale Glass Automotive, a Paterson, N.J.-based importer, SAG notes in the report filed with NHTSA that it destroyed or quarantined 1,080 of these. The remaining parts in the market from SAG? One-thousand six-hundred fifty-seven.
The company has notified its retail shops and customers throughout the United States and has offered to replace the glass free of charge to shops and customers.
At an industry meeting in February, Belron US chief operating officer Rich Harrison noted his main concern is that the product is still in the marketplace and only SAG, at that time, had issued a recall.
“We’ve recently proactively taken a step to recall certain products from DOT 430,” said Harrison. “Our view and concern in the industry is that there’s glass in the marketplace right now that came through the same chain that hasn’t been recalled.”
ATI spokesperson Josh Hammond of Northlich, a public relations firm, has declined to comment on whether it sold the suspect parts to other shops or suppliers, but at least one glass distributor has advised it purchased the recalled part numbers from ATI and that ATI has advised him to “quarantine” them.
The PPD RecallIn early March, Process Polymers Development (PPD) in Clinton Township, Mich., issued a voluntary NHTSA recall for a part for the same tempering issue. This time, it was a new part number, a replacement backlite for the Lexus RX 300 for the 1998 to 2003 model years, one from DOT No. 430, and one from DOT No. 628, which is held by Hebei Tongyong Glass Inc. PPD purchased both parts from Wholesale as well, according to the report it filed with NHTSA.
PPD estimates that 951 pieces of glass are affected by the recall, according to the report it filed with NHTSA.PPD officials have been unavailable for comment thus far, but one of its customers, Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries, which conducted the testing on the suspect glass parts for the distributor, has been vocal on the topic.
Doug Sharbaugh, manager, supply chain, advised that when PPG officials learned of the SAG recall, they became concerned that they had purchased glass that came from Hangzhou as well.
“After Safelite’s announced recall, we learned that we, too, had glass that was labeled with DOT 430 and started testing the product,” he says. “At the same time, we learned that the same part number had been received with DOT 628 markings and we felt compelled to test both products for this characteristic. The testing was done according to the ANSI Z26.1 testing requirements.”
PPG is in the process of contacting its customers.
“PPG will be directly contacting customers that purchased these part numbers with the DOT 430 and DOT 628 markings from PPG and its affiliates with further instructions,” Sharbaugh adds.
PPD, which issued the official, voluntary recall, is contacting its customers as well.
Officials at Hebei have not responded to requests for comment either.
And there’s still one missing link: Wholesale Automotive Glass, the importer of the parts. Numerous calls to Wholesale’s only known phone number, along with a visit to the company in early February, have been unsuccessful.
Andrew An is named as the wholesale contact in both recall reports filed with NHTSA.
However, little else is known about the business. Shi had advised in late January that he wasn’t aware that Hangzhou sold to Wholesale; however, both NHTSA reports, filed by SAG and PPD, respectively, list Wholesale as the importer of the glass parts.
“We register the glass parts and write them down, but to find these pieces, we’ve got to get this information into some kind of form,” said Dave Burns of Ray Sands Auto Glass in Rochester, N.Y., during a discussion at a recent meeting about technology needs.
Bud Oliver of NAGS also noted that there’s been talk for a long time of having standard barcodes that shops could scan among the manufacturers of glass.
“The recall of this glass adds more importance for us to get this thing done,” Oliver said. “If we could get to the point where we have a standard, it could go right into your database and be much more efficient.”
The Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Council has alerted its registered shops as well that their documentation of DOT numbers should allow them to locate any of the recalled glass parts easily. The Council issued two alerts in recent months about the recalls and even provided some sample recall language.
In the AGRSS Alert, the Council warns that shops “should make every effort to recall any glass [involved in the recall] that they have installed.”
The Council goes on to quote the Standard, which says, “All glass parts must be traceable to the installation by a DOT and part number.”
“Your documentation of these DOT numbers and part numbers on your work orders should allow you to identify the [vehicles that] may have had the subject glass installed,” the alert continues.
What You Can Do