Volume 41, Issue 6 - June 2006

Scratching the Surface

When is Adding a Glass Scratch Removal System Right for You?
by Rory Most

Over the last five years dramatic improvements have been made to glass scratch removal and restoration systems that have allowed the glass industry to produce effective solutions throughout the manufacturing and distribution chains. Unlike traditional methods of glass restoration, recent improvements have increased efficiency and productivity, allowing for the repair of a wide variety of damage types, from extreme to incidental scratching. As manufacturing and labor costs continue to increase, the idea of repairing glass damage has become a reality.

Alternative Solutions
The refinement of traditional repair methods has led the way in making glass scratch removal an effective solution for glass restoration and repair. New methods have allowed users to repair an average scratch, typically 6 inches long, in 5-30 minutes and at a minimal cost. In today’s fast-pace environment time is money, and users can now repair the damage in an effective time frame without losing productivity. Just consider the number of damaged glass lites that never reach the customer because of a small imperfection that results in quality defects. 

Manufacturers, distributors, glass suppliers, contractors and installers can all play a considerable roll in facilitating a scratch removal procedure that will enhance the supply chain, reduce scrap and increase flow times. The likelihood that glass can be scratched or damaged as it moves through the manufacturing process is considerable. In many cases precautions are taken to reduce the amount of damage in order to lower warranty costs. At our company we find that the majority of scratching damage occurs directly before, during and after installation. Coincidentally, when glass is damaged during the most expensive point in that process, the replacement costs can be in the thousands of dollars. 

Glass scratch removal systems can be effective solutions at the end of the supply chain. Once the glass is installed, replacement costs increase dramatically. The labor cost increases as the glass is removed and exchanged. Glass installers and contractors often feel the burden of scratch damage during this stage and are plagued with deciding whether to replace it or not. Scratch removal offers an alternative solution that not only will lower material costs, but also the extensive labor costs associated with replacement. In addition, there is no turn-around time involved in repair; most damage can be repaired in minutes compared to the long wait to receive a new lite of glass.

Is Scratch Removal Right for You?
So, how do you know if investing in a scratch removal system is a wise choice for your company? Start by looking into your annual replacement cost damage. (If you are not currently tracking this information, start.) Most scratch removal systems range in price from $1,600 to $4,000. If your damage costs exceed this initial investment, it’s time for you to start repairing glass. Once you have invested in your initial scratch removal system, the on-going replacement costs normally are minuscule; approximately $1-$5 for every 6 inches worth of damage. This can add up to tremendous cost savings. For the glass shop that has a great warranty agreement with its supplier, replacement costs may not be an issue. I would recommend addressing this alternative solution with your supplier. I have found some glass establishments that have incorporated a scratch removal process and received rebates for damaged glass that the supplier didn’t have to replace.

What System is Right for You?
With the online means and capabilities available, the Internet is an ideal place to begin your research. Make sure to ask the right questions when speaking with different scratch removal manufacturers; the last thing you need is a system that is not going to meet your needs. Here are some questions you may want to ask: 

• How efficient is your system in removing scratching damage? (Use 6 inches of damage as your template.);
• How deep of a scratch can the scratch removal system remove?
• Does the system have any limitations?
• Can the system repair along the edge of the glass?
• How expensive are the replacement costs?
• How expensive are the ongoing material costs?
• What type of warranties do you provide?
• What training opportunities do you offer?

These are some of the questions that will help you evaluate each scratch removal system. I strongly recommend looking at all of your options before making your final decision. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a system that doesn’t meet your needs. Many companies offer free training to potential, as well as current customers. This is a valuable perk. There is nothing better than training provided by the manufacturer, especially if it is offered free of charge prior to your purchase. This allows you to be trained on the system, and also evaluate the product to ensure it meets your needs.

Today there is no reason why glass scratch removal cannot provide a huge benefit to many businesses in the glass industry. Research the many scratch removal alternatives via the Internet and evaluate each company for profitability, productivity and ongoing support. 

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