Volume 37, Issue 11, November 2002
Driving the Point Home
Consider All the Options When Choosing
Trucks and Racks to Transport Glass
by Roger Mercure
There is a new perspective in the glass industry concerning how to carry glass in a secure environment. There are many types of trucks on our roads today including regular vans, pickups and opened or closed bodies. Depending on the glass-load dimension you need to carry, you will have to find the best equipment for the climate we face in North America.
Considering the Options
Moving glass from point A to B is a real challenge for the glass manufacturer. Letís look at the different options we have. As the Northern states have winter conditions and bumpy roads for nearly six months of the year, the roads are dirty and a good, flat surface of rubber protection wonít accumulate dirt, sand or salt. Any rubber surface, not being flat, can keep those elements in rubber grooved and scratch glass while being transported. Reducing the amount that glass sheets bounce during transportation may lower the risk of scratching, so it is important to look for a good pole system. The better the glass is secured on your rack, the less problems you will have with scratching and chipping. Chips on the side of a sealed unit will affect its quality and can even result in a broken unit after installation due to the stress of hot and cold temperatures. So when changing a broken sealed unit that is under warranty, ask if it was caused by a handling problem.
Also, watch for a good ledgeboard set-up. Sitting blocks are better than a full-length rubber mat (which is true for any size truck). Plan on having debris of tempered glass on a full floor mat. The rest of the load will suffer from particles left there. Any other kind of material, including stone or sand, will affect the quality of your product.
The use of sitting blocks can prevent many problems, and lifting glass sheet is easier when you can put your hand underneath the load to lift it. Sitting blocks can be spaced in a way to accommodate different sizes of glass.
Left: Aluminum construction works best for light units, such as vans. At right: An example of a pickup truck with a closed body.
Example of an open-body, light-duty truck.
For light units such as pickup trucks and vans, aluminum construction is the way to go. Not only will the rack be lighter than steel, but you will avoid rust problems. Your truck is a window of your company, so having an old, rusty rack wonít help you promote the quality of your craftsmanship.
Donít forget that ledgeboard size is important as well. The sealed unit takes up space and you want to reach the maximum payload instead of making fewer trips because of a narrow ledgeboard carrying two units at the same time. The maximum width is 102 inches for any vehicle on the road, so ledgeboard can be as wide as 5 Ĺ inches, with usable inches on each side keeping a 5-degree angle.
While vans are still more popular than pickup trucks, they are losing ground. Today, a well-equipped van with a rack on both sides will be outclassed by a new enclosed body that fits on a pickup truck. Our company offers a 5-panel kit that requires four hours of labor. Any glass contractor can transform his pickup truck into a 6-foot, 3-inch-high-working shopóbut the total investment is the same. So, your service truck can have a bench work, tool and even a compressor in a unit without having the worry of a cube van for inspection, licensing and log book.
If you choose to go with a single-side rack, GMC is offering an option of a side door on the driverís side. This will allow you to have the rack installed on the passenger side. Many people often donít understand that this is a logical choice for installing a rack. But remember that fuel tank filler is always on the driverís side, so donít forget to fill up before loading your rack. Also remember that during bad weather, the driver side is more exposed to slush and dirt. For a 24-hour service truck, who wants to be in the middle of the road to take the glass from a driver-side rack?
Medium-duty units follow the same trend. Again, a good aluminum construction reinforced with a steel sub frame will provide you with strength and durability. The price and weight will be under stainless-steel construction. We often see trucks with no tailgate and no panel on the side to protect glass from tools or material inside the truck on opened bodies. Donít forget that what falls out of your truck can cause an accident and you can be sued for any damage this causes.
In a competitive market you want to offer more than your competitor. There is a truck body for each purpose: opened or enclosed, 12 to 28 feet unit (roll-up tarps system, curtain, etc.) so do your research and purchase the best system to fit your needs.
Roger Mercure is the president of Bromer Inc., based in Terrebonne, Quebec.
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