Smooth as glass
Dreaming of a new truck?
Turn your dreams into reality, while avoiding the nightmare of buyer’s remorse, by doing some clear-eyed strategic planning long before stepping foot onto a dealer’s floor. A little bit of research, combined with a few truck-buying tips, will result in years of safe and productive job-site glass deliveries made in a truck right for you, your budget and business needs.
If you are a glazier who already knows exactly what type of truck you need in order to get the job done, congratulations. If, on the other hand, you find yourself wrangling over critical and potentially costly purchasing decisions—van or pickup truck, gas or diesel engine, aluminum or steel glass rack—consider the following suggestions.
For manufacturing cost efficiencies, overall weight savings and fuel economy, truck manufacturers have been lightening their pickup beds and van bodies during the past several years. For the glass rack builders, this evolution has required the design of more efficient racks. Lighter weight racks lower fuel costs, maintenance and greatly lessen wear and tear on engines, transmissions, brakes and tires.
Vans: If you need dry interior space to store and transport glass, tools and installation materials, a van might be the way to go. Depending on needs, van interiors can be outfitted with space-saving shelving and cabinets with lockable drawer systems. Vans hold particular appeal for big-city glaziers, who appreciate the security and parking features of narrow, enclosed vans. When it comes to racks, driver-side exterior van racks predominate, but both sides can accommodate glass racks. Typically, one curbside cargo door is exposed for interior access on double-sided van rack. An interior front bulkhead is recommended. This safety component might save lives should an unexpected stop suddenly propel the van’s load toward the driver’s cab space.
Pickups: Pickups offer glaziers plenty of features, including large double-sided racks for hauling storefront products, patio doors, large plate glass and other oversized items. Opt for an extended cab or crew cab, and watch your secure storage space grow. Add front rack extensions to carry stock-length metal for job-site window and storefront jobs. Ford, Chevy and Dodge remain the most popular work pickups, and all compare favorably for durability, strength and longevity. To ensure power, payload and productivity, the recommended engine is eight-cylinders in a 3⁄4-ton with a gross vehicle weight rating for 8,600 to 9,400 pounds.
What’s new in pickups
For the most part, trucks hauling glass and glass-related products are pickups or vans, with a medium-duty, 1-ton rounding out or anchoring some fleets. This year, however, the major manufacturers have made improvements worth noting. From redesigned cabs to extended service intervals, the newly introduced 2007 truck models offer features and benefits of particular interest to the glass industry.
Ford SuperDuty 2008 model: Introduced earlier this year, this model boasts a redesigned hood and front end, featuring a newly enlarged “bold” grille that makes a statement while improving cooling and trailer-towing capacity. The SuperDuty is available in three cab styles: standard, super cab and crew cab, with the longer cab options increasing all-important storage space. Rising fuel costs have boosted the popularity of the crew cab, which can accommodate up to five people, eliminating the need for a second truck.
New power scope mirrors adjust, telescope, fold and extend about 3 inches longer than before. Complete with heated glass and an optional spotter mirror, these features—offered by Chevy, too—meet the glazier’s need for secure rear viewing when driving extra-wide vehicles with pickup-bed glass racks. Other 2008 Ford SuperDuty upgrades include:
• New 6.4 liter power stroke turbo-diesel engine
• Refined chassis and suspension
• All new interior
• Integrated tailgate step option
• Stow able tailgate
Chevy Silverado: The Motor Trend Truck of the Year, the Silverado also receives praise as Kelly Blue Book’s 2007 Best Redesigned Vehicle: “The Silverado impresses immediately with clean contemporary exterior styling and two equally smart-looking passenger cabin options. … Notably improved steering, braking, ride and comfort, combine in a vehicle that’s infinitely more satisfying in town and on the highway. Combined with the segment’s highest available [Crew Cab] towing capacity and horsepower as well as its best available fuel economy … Chevy’s newest pick-up is poised to make a significant impact in this era of tougher and more [luxurious] trucks.”
The upgraded Chevy Silverado debuted in 2007 and sports a redesigned, more aerodynamic cab, a stiffer chassis with suspension upgrades, and an all-new interior.
Glass rack manufacturers notice that Chevy’s new pickup beds are more heavily reinforced. That’s a significant benefit for glaziers who haul notoriously heavy loads on pickup trucks.
Dodge: Heavy-duty pickups from Dodge are available with a larger six-cylinder Cummins turbo diesel engine, with up to 350 horsepower and a massive 350 foot-pounds of torque. Dodge trucks always have been—and still are—respected for their powerful, dependable towing capacity.
Van changes feed glaziers’ workhorse
Freightliner: Manufactured and jointly marketed by Dodge, Freightliner’s Sprinter vans have continued to gain market share since their introduction to the U.S. several years ago. Originally designed for Europe’s narrow streets, this justifiably popular van has become a workhorse for glaziers across the country. An enormous interior provides a mini workshop-on-wheels. The redesigned 2007 model includes a Mercedes V-6 diesel engine; a new optional gas engine, a longer cab, more aerodynamic body style and four-wheel antilock brakes. Averaging about 20 miles per gallon, the diesel model is a glass-industry workhorse that should outlast two conventional gas engine vans.
Ford’s E-Series: Dynamically different for 2008, these vans embody sweeping changes certain to enhance Ford’s standing in the industry. Improvements include extending oil change intervals to 7,500 miles from 5,000, while increasing transmission service intervals from 30,000 miles to 60,000, thanks to improved filtration. Other upgrades include an all-new brake system and suspension upgrades that improve the overall ride. A new steering boost curve gives the driver a better feel while cornering. Enhanced front-end styling includes the grille, bumpers, headlamps, hood and side fenders. A tire pressure monitoring system comes standard on all single rear-wheel units.
Medium-duty trucks for bigger jobs
For distributors serving small glass shops and glaziers with job-site hauling needs that exceed the capacity of pickups and vans, a medium-duty truck with a complete glass-rack truck body is the way to go. Chevy, Isuzu, Nissan and Mitsubishi all build popular “1-tons” featuring a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 to 14,500 pounds, with chassis that accommodate glass bodies of 10 to 14 feet in length. Medium-duty trucks typically cost 1.5 times the cost of a fully equipped pickup or van, but they also provide more than twice the payload and vehicle life. Chevy’s W-Series and Isuzu’s NPR models own about three-quarters of the national market share, thanks to comprehensive dealer networks.
Chevy’s 3500 series is the only conventional dual-rear wheel chassis that will carry a full-bodied glass rack. The alternative is a low cab forward truck, or “tilt-cab.” Chevy’s new 3500 model shares the Silverado logo and includes Silverado’s model-year upgrades.
Isuzu’s 2008 NPR includes a 5.2 liter turbo-diesel engine, six-speed automatic transmission, color options, improved visibility, convex mirrors integrated into the standard mirrors and all new interior trim and amenities. These LCF-style tilt-cabs are amazingly maneuverable. Diesel engine models provide large-truck power, durability and longevity for a surprisingly reasonable price.
Ford Commercial Trucks and Vans
Chevrolet Light Duty Commercial Trucks and Vans
Dodge Commercial Vehicles
Isuzu Commercial Trucks
Mitsubishi Fuso: Medium Duty Commercial Trucks
UD Trucks: Nissan Medium Duty Trucks
Tips to maximize safety, minimize risk
Regardless of the vehicle—van, pickup or medium-duty the top concern is protecting people, products and positioning every time a driver leaves the lot. Following are 13 tips to help maximize truck and driver safety, while minimizing potentially costly and time-consuming road-related risks:
1. Mandate drivers’ use of seatbelts 100 percent of the time
2. Always use manufacturer-provided glass securing systems
3. Adhere to—and document—regular maintenance schedules and procedures
4. Avoid fast starts and sudden stops
5. Maintain extra-assured clear distance. Remember, a loaded truck takes longer to stop
6. Upgrade tires to the highest quality grade
7. Read vehicle owner’s manual and follow recommendations
8. Regularly check tire pressure to maintain rigidly
9. Provide each vehicle with a safety kit that includes a flare kit, fire extinguisher, reflective triangles, reflective vest and a first-aid kit
10. Install interior-front safety bulkheads in vans
11. Do not remove front glass stops
12. Install back-up alarms in vehicles
13. Outlaw driver distractions: Ban cell phones, text messaging, smoking, eating and other activities when employees are behind the wheel of company vehicles.