Volume 36, Issue 2, February 2001

On the Road Again

How to Transport Glass Safely and Effectively

by John R. Weise

TRUCK1 Protecting glass is no easy task due to the product’s fragile nature, and transferring it from point A to point B isn’t as easy as it may seem to some. However, there are steps that can be taken to make the bumps in the road and the occasional stone less of a potential problem for your product while in transport. With proper care and maintenance you can also extend the life of your glass carrier.

Choose Your Vehicle
Glass carriers may be mounted on a number of different vehicles. Some of the vehicles used are vans, pick-ups, light-duty, enclosed trucks, 12- to 16-feet body trucks and finally glass transports. Vans are the most common vehicle used for carrying glass in America. The glass carrier may be mounted on one or both sides of the vehicle, and the interior provides security and weather protection for tools and supplies. Benefits of a van include the fact that it is very economical and easy to maneuver.

Trucks are also common means for transporting glass. Pick-up trucks have the advantage of extra space for transporting doors and frames in the box, while still having the ability to mount carriers on both sides for glass. Light-duty enclosed trucks are used when one wants to essentially have a workshop on wheels. Enclosed trucks offer security for tools and supplies like vans, and also feature the additional benefit of headroom to allow for full height standing room. This can be a real plus when Mother Nature decides to send a foot of rain or snow your way; and certain work must still be done at the job site. Twelve to 16-feet open body trucks usually have carriers on the outside with a ship lapped hardwood floor inside. One or both interior sides may also have a glass carrier with a four-degree slant. The exterior carriers typically slant at six degrees for safety. Stock lengths of metal and cases of glass may also be carried on the inside. Finally, the glass transport category includes straight trucks and trailers. Glass transports are used to carry large pieces and multiples cases of glass. These trucks are especially useful and economical for distributors and large-scale jobs.

Staying Safe

Whatever your truck of choice, there are certain safety guidelines that need to be followed, for both the safety of the driver, as well as the protection of the glass. Keep the following in mind:

~ Glass carriers should be mounted approximately 18-inches off the ground; this height allows for two things: easy access, and clearance of obstacles such as tall curbs and snowdrifts;

~ The bolts securing the glass carrier to the vehicle should also be checked for tightness on a monthly basis. Many people consider this task a nuisance, however it is extremely important. One tip to ensure that this critical safety check is not overlooked is to do the check routinely along with paying the rent or mortgage each month;

~ Double check to make sure the vertical stakes that you are using were designed for your glass carrier and fit properly. Different manufacturers have varying standard heights;

~ It is highly recommended that you use self-locking stakes to help reduce liability. Ledgeboards need to be checked periodically as well since they carry the burden of 95 percent of the weight of the glass. Different manufacturers use varying ledgeboard widths, upon which the glass rests;

~ Glass should be pinched or trapped on both sides by rubber to prevent slippage. In other words, the cleats should line up with the slats at all times. The horizontal B slat now commonly is used on glass carriers because it has rubber cushioning as well as slots that accept strap assemblies. Straps offer another layer of protection and stability on glass. They may be used exclusively to move doors, frames or anything else that won’t fit between the stake and the carrier;

~ Loadstops at the front of the carrier act as an additional boundary. Putting glass in this corner wherever possible limits movement. The load stop also reduces road grime on the glass. In addition to loadstops, your glass carrier should also have full lower splash panel. This feature protects the glass from debris as well keeping it clean, saving on clean time at the job site;

~ Large hand-tightened wingnuts should be secured properly. The wingnut tightens the cleat to the stake; which in turn secures the glass to the carrier. They are a small but critical component to this larger picture.

What’s It Made Of?

Although the safety considerations for glass carriers are uniform in their execution, the actual materials used to make these carriers vary. The three materials used today are aluminum, stainless steel and painted high tensile steel.

Many glass suppliers are using aluminum for their carriers for four main reasons: it is strong, lightweight, resistant to rust and has a moderate cost. Aluminum cannot, however, be used in the manufacture of glass transports.

Those suppliers who invest more money and choose stainless steel for their carriers will get the strongest, most long-lasting material in the industry. Stainless steel also requires no maintenance and is great looking. The drawback, if any, would be the additional initial cost. Although with time, the added cost may pay for itself.

Finally, many suppliers still prefer painted high tensile steel carriers. It is a very strong material and the least costly. It is, however, a high-maintenance material. Painted steel carriers may eventually rust and need to be refurbished. A local auto body shop should be able to remove, sandblast and repaint the steel. With the rubber cushioning replaced, this carrier can look like new again.

Extended Life Span
With proper care and maintenance, it is not unusual for glass carriers, of any material, to outlive the economic life span of the vehicle used; and properly maintained carriers may be moved from one vehicle to another. If you stay with the same truck manufacturer (i.e. from one GMC to another GMC) your chances of a proper fit are very good. If you want to move your carrier to a different manufacturer, for example, from a Dodge to a Ford, the glass carrier may need some reconfiguration. Although your truck might not look aesthetically perfect at this point, it should still fully function as designed.

As you can see, there are many decisions to be made concerning glass carriers, from the type of vehicle used to transport your glass to the actual material of the glass carrier itself. Contact your manufacturer and he will help you with the glass carrier that best suits your needs. By choosing the proper vehicle and material and putting safety first, a rewarding and profitable career is only a stone’s throw away.

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