Volume 10, Issue 1 - January/February 2008

The Beat Goes On
Industry Continues to Respond to Z26 Draft
by Penny Stacey

When Lou Toth of Fix-N-Chips in Livonia, Mich., heard about the possible revisions to the Z26 standard this year, he was outraged. The newly created 7.3 section of the Standard, which was submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) last fall, call for any windshields that have been repaired to be marked accordingly via etching.

The idea of this not only upset Toth, but drew him to action. On Christmas Eve of 2007 (December 24), while many prepped for the holiday, Toth wrote a passionate letter to John Turnbull, the chairperson of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ safety glazing committee, who handles the Z26 standard.

“The implications of the revised submission are seriously flawed,” he wrote, adding, “If my goal were to put repair-only companies out of business, I could not think of a better strategy than Z26 in its revised form.”

While Toth’s letter as yet has gone unanswered, he’s not the only one who’s taken the committee’s revisions as an affront. 

NWRA Takes Action
In the days approaching the December 24 deadline for comments on the ANSI/SAE Z.26.1 standard, the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA), which has been very public about its concern for the revision, led the charge, sending a memo to its members on November 15, 2007, noting that the official draft of the standard had been released. The NWRA’s memo contains the language of the revised standard, which reads as follows:

“All modifications to the glazing materials made by someone other than the original glazing manufacturer shall be permanently marked on the glazing. Such modifications include but are not limited to a change in size, drilling, chemical treatment or repair. All such modifications, even when done with the expectation that compliance to the standard will be retained, shall be designated by subsequent permanent markings in characters at least 1.78 mm (0.070”) in height. The markings shall indicate the nature of the change, the date (month and year), the location in which the change occurred and a unique code that designates the change agent.”

NWRA’s main concern noted is that the amendment was drafted without any input from the repair community.

“[ANSI] requires that interested groups—stakeholder groups—have access to the process,” the NWRA writes. “This process was completely devoid of input from the repair community.”

Cindy Rowe Auto Glass chief operating officer David Taylor shares both the NWRA and Toth’s concerns. Taylor also serves as treasurer of the association.

“The developers of the standard did not thoroughly consider their recommendations,” Taylor says. “It appears to be a process that had been either hurried or developed by people with a narrow scope of experience. Excluding the stakeholders … has led to a doubtful document.”

In the Replacement Corner
While repair-only businesses have made up the most vocal portion of the industry toward the revisions to the Z26 standard, which is referenced in several related documents, such as the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS), the replacement portion of the industry has not been silent either.

On December 20, Cindy Ketcherside, the AGRSS Council’s chairperson, authored a letter to Turnbull as well, outlining the group’s position statement on the proposed revisions to the standard—and requesting some clarification.

“Our understanding is that the Glazing Committee oversees Z26.1 addressing only the original equipment glass installed in a vehicle,” writes Ketcherside. “We would like you to clarify that 7.3 does indeed address only original glass and does not address any replacement glass installed in the vehicle because of defects or breakage.”

She adds, “The replacement glass, to be installed, would require primers and possibly other ‘chemical treatments’ to repair the glass surface to accept the urethane/adhesives. The primers could be considered to be a chemical additive to the glass, thus requiring the identification markings as specified in 7.3 of your draft.”

The Independent Glass Association (IGA) has taken a similar stance, noting in its position statement that the requirement of etching would be extremely hard to enforce.

“Compliance with this draft would be unenforceable because every replaced windshield requires a chemical process be applied to the glass in the form of a primer for the adhesives,” the group writes. The National Glass Association (NGA) weighed in against the standard as well.

Joel Timmons, president of Profitable Glass Solutions in Dayton, Ohio, hasn’t authored a letter to Turnbull, but as a long-time industry member who has worked for a variety of companies, including Dow Automotive and Glass America, considers the possible changes to be of concern.

“The cost to create the infrastructure to support the proposed amendment would be prohibitive,” he says. “These costs, including those of education, would ultimately be passed to the consumer, who seemingly would not benefit from these glazing ‘markings.’”

He adds that he’d like to know the reasoning behind the amendment.

“I encourage the Society of Automotive Engineers to share their analysis of the risks associated with glazing ‘modifications’ in order for all interested stakeholders to form an educated opinion,” Timmons says.

The Claims Administrators Speak Out In addition to the various facets of the glass industry expressing their concern over the 7.3 modifications to the Z26 standard, even third-party administrators have their fears.

Paul Gross, president of Harmon Solutions Group (HSG) in Eau Claire, Wis., penned a letter to Turnbull in the days leading up to the deadline for comments. Gross wrote on December 20 that the draft standard “is too broad in its capacity due to its lack of defined terms,” noting that the word “repair” is not defined anywhere in the draft.

“This mandate will minimize the use of the safest approach to the restoration of damaged auto glass—windshield repair,” Gross adds. “All of this leads HSG to believe the draft standard will result in a decrease in the number of repairs (raising a restraint of trade issue) and an increased cost to insureds.”

Safelite/Belron US senior vice president and chief operating officer Rich Harrison also spoke out on the subject via letter to Turnbull; while Harrison addressed several issues he sees with the standard in his letter, he also points out the method by which the revisions were developed as a point of concern.

“In the case of the proposals to include Section 7.3 in Z26.1, the one group that will benefit from the proposed change, the OEMs of vehicle glass, is the same group that proposed Section 7.3,” he writes. “The group that will be harmed, the vehicle glass repair industry, was excluded from the drafting process.”

What the Future May Hold
At press time, no groups had yet received a response from Turnbull, who, at this point, has not returned any of AGRR’s calls either. The deadline for comments was December 24, and to date, it had not been decided how these comments might affect the final draft of the document. According to information from ANSI’s website, “consensus must be reached on a proposed standard by a group or ‘consensus body’ that includes representatives from materially affected and interested parties; draft standards are required to undergo one or more open public reviews during which time any member of the public may submit comments; comments submitted by voting members of the relevant consensus body and by public review commenters must be evaluated, responded to and if appropriate, incorporated into the draft standard; and anyone believing that due process principles were not sufficiently respected during the standards development process has the right to appeal in accordance with the ANSI-accredited procedures of the standards developer.”

Stay tuned to AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com for the latest updates on this issue. 

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com.

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