Volume 15, Issue 2 - March/April 2013

Man vs. Machine
The Two-Man Set Throw Down

by Kaitlan Mitchell

It is a debate that most auto glass technicians must take into consideration. Which is better, the labor-intensive two-man set windshield installation or technology-driven machinery? The pros and cons of both methods can play an important role in running an AGRR shop more efficiently. Although this is certainly not a typical throw down, the debate on who, or rather what, can most efficiently install auto glass is a topic not to be overlooked.

It Takes Two
Two-man sets utilize two technicians to guide, hold and set auto glass in place for precision and accuracy. This method also helps to verify that the windshield is seated properly and does not leak according to Anderson Windshield Complete Auto Glass Service’s website.

The Cornelia-Ga based company promotes itself as “always use[s] a two-man-set to place your windshield whether we do it in our auto glass shop or in the field. We never allow one man to set a windshield. This ensures a proper set and seal and is the primary reason we have so few call-backs.” Anderson’s is so confident in the two-man set technique, that it offers “a full life-time warranty on all of our auto glass installs for as long as you own the vehicle.”

For mobile installations, experts say two technicians can improve personal and roadway safety. Acting as a co-pilot, the technician sitting in the passenger’s seat can provide driving instructions. In addition, the second person can better correspond with customers and the glass shop on the phone or checking email so the driver is not distracted. The team of two has the ability to remember special tasks better than one tech on the job and allows another pair of eyes to look over the work and spot problems. In certain instances, the windshield’s weight or size properties keep it from being handled by just one technician. The windshield replacement in some larger vehicles requires a second technician because of the massive weight of the glass.

The Rebuttal
New industry equipment allows one tech to install windshields alone on traditional two-tech jobs. There are several strong suits to this windshield application method. According to Caryn Birkhauser operations manager of AEGIS Tools International Inc., the creators of the Solo II, one advantage of utilizing windshield handling equipment is the increased prevention value from serious health aliments. The Solo II is a system works as the second person in the set by holding one side of the windshield.

“The tool helps prevent work-related injuries, such as back, neck and shoulder strains, by supporting the windshield for the technician,” says Birkhauser. “Many technicians use the Solo II for every installation to avoid repetitive lifting and reaching with a windshield.”

According to Birkhauser, mechanical installers also increase productivity because it takes one technician to install a wider variety of windshields and the glass shop has more flexibility in scheduling installations when only one technician is needed.

Doug Daigle a representative of The Auto Glass Installer (TAGI) also states that training new technicians to operate the equipment is a quick and easy process. On average it takes less than 10 minutes to apply a windshield with this installation method, according to TAGI officials.

“The advantage of using TAGI to install a windshield compared to a two-man set is the labor savings and safety,” says Daigle. “With TAGI, one technician can install a windshield in a vehicle up to eight feet in height with TAGI carrying all the weight through the installation procedure. The two man installation on an over height vehicle is very unsafe because each technician has to be on a ladder to install the windshield.”

Another product, the SideKick, developed by the Pipe Knife Company and manufactured exclusively for Equalizer, was developed by the developer Dell Skluzak while working side by side with an installer.

“I invented this product by working with an installer from Wichita, Kan., who sent me a rough product that he used for his work,” says Skluzak. “It is primarily suction cups with a stop on the bottom and an L-shaped bracket on top to hold or gap the glass off the frame prior to setting the glass. The design is simple and while it doesn’t do everything some of the more sophisticated setting tools will do, it is much less expensive so more AGR techs can afford it. The product is also very easy to store and set up on the vehicle and it’s simple to use.”

While many shops still use the two-man set technique to install windshields, some foresee a gradual switch to using a tool to replace one of the technicians.

“There will always be some shops that choose to set windshields with two technicians, especially if they are in the shop and the extra person is available,” says Birkhauser. “If businesses are concerned about productivity and technician safety they will want to move toward setting assistance tools.”

Meeting on Common Ground
When analyzing the two-man set verses mechanical windshield installation a number of factors can come into play, including the staff size of the auto glass shop, employee interest in learning the technology as well as the shop’s budget size.

But whether the windshield is placed by hand or by handle, if the installation is quality work, includes quick service and provides long-lasting results, a blue ribbon is in order.

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