Setting Up a Transportation Service Plan Saves Time and Money

By Jordan Scott

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for setting goals and for reflection, which makes it a great time for glass companies to reevaluate their vehicle service plans. Glass vehicles carry heavy glass and equipment, which can cause wear and tear faster than everyday vehicles. Frequent trips to and from jobsites also require vehicle maintenance to be an important part of every glass company’s routine.

The first thing a company can do is to analyze how far and how often their vehicles are driven. This helps to establish a regular maintenance routine.

Some things to check each time the vehicle is serviced are: oil and other fluids (diesel exhaust fluids for diesel engines), brakes, tires, suspension, and the glass rack.

Glass racks are built to be durable but jobsite hazards and vehicle vibration can impact a rack’s condition.

“One guy has a couple of van racks that are over 20 years old. He checks the fasteners and bolts on a monthly basis to see if any road vibration has loosened anything,” says John Weise, president of F. Barkow, located in Milwaukee. “Typically the answer is no, but we would recommend to check all of that once a month.”

Paul Schodorf, vice president of sales at Schodorf Truck Body & Equipment in Columbus, Ohio, also recommends checking the nuts and bolts of a glass rack for tightness periodically to make sure they’re solid.

“A lot of times after companies get them installed people don’t check them again,” he says. “Vans and trucks were never really designed to hold glass. Everything is attached wherever there is strength on the vehicle so it needs to be attended to regularly.”

Glass racks can also have stress fractures, though it’s not common, according to Weise. He says this is usually caused because a glass company overloaded its vehicle. If a company notices a fracture, Weise recommends that an aluminum welder or stainless welder touch it up. “It’s just something you have to keep your eye on periodically, just like any other piece of equipment,” he says.

Michael Frett, sales director at MyGlassTruck.com, based in Glassboro, N.J., says the company doesn’t weld its racks so they are less rigid and less likely to crack from use and vehicle vibration. However, he recommends that glass shops check the ledges of their racks because it’s the lowest part of the rack and more likely to be run into a curb, wall or guard rail on a jobsite.

Kevin Byczek, who works in sales at Torstenson Glass in Chicago, says his racks don’t normally need maintenance. According to Byczek, the only maintenance required is replacing the rubber pads if worn, but that happens rarely.

Because glaziers load their trucks with tools and heavy glass and drive on potentially rough jobsites, Frett recommends checking suspension often to ensure that it hasn’t worn out. He also suggests checking tires for nails and wear regularly.

For vans that have glass racks on one side, Schodorf recommends that companies take their vehicles to a local sprint shop to have them look at the leaf springs.

“The weight is being borne by the suspension on that one side. People often overload these vehicles because nobody’s weighing these things. A local shop can look at the leaf springs and give it more cross vehicle weight and capacity to level up the load,” he says.

Another precaution Schodorf suggests is installing a steel front safety bulk head, especially in vans when the glass is loaded inside them. He says that if the driver comes to a sudden stop, the glass in the back will still be moving at the speed the vehicle was traveling before stopping and could slide forward and hit the driver. The front safety bulk head prevents the glass from traveling forward and keeps the driver and passenger safe.

Torstenson Glass does preventative maintenance by mileage for its four glass trucks. Vehicle inspections are also done during the preventative maintenance routine.

Byczek says the company runs two of its four trucks at a time. Torstenson Glass recently replaced a truck from 2009 with a new vehicle and plans to replace another vehicle in 2019. Weise says that many companies run their trucks for more than a decade. Whenever a company decides to invest in a new vehicle, it can transfer its old glass rack onto the new vehicle, though some might require adjustments.

In order to prolong the life of a vehicle, Schodorf recommends buying one with a heavier suspension so that it will last longer under the weight of the glass.

“The racks won’t break under the load but the truck will,” he says.

According to Weise, tall vans are a growing trend among glass companies. Many companies request roof racks to carry their ladders and other equipment. Weise recommends those shops install a roller that can make putting up or taking down equipment easy and safe.

Glass companies are going to understand their own needs depending on
types of jobs, work frequency and the size of their operations. It’s important
to create a regular service plan so that maintenance is preventative rather
than reactive, helping save money and time that vehicles are off the road.

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