The Great Dilemma

How Many Technicians Does It Take to Replace a Windshield?

By Joshua Huff

Labor shortages have impacted all types of industries over the past few years. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, more than 50 million people left the workforce in 2022, following the 47.8 million who quit jobs in  2021. Popular culture refers to this exodus as “The Great Resignation.”

The auto glass industry was not immune. Faced with the labor crunch, shop managers began asking themselves: How many technicians do I really need to install a windshield?

Jeff Olive, director of quality and training for the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC), says shops must weigh labor, quality and profits to answer this question. AGSC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to safely repairing and replacing auto glass.

If a company uses two experienced technicians for each job, Olive says, the replacement will be completed faster than if just one experienced technician was assigned to the job.

“However, you would have the expense of two experienced technicians for each job, reducing profit,” he explains. “Revenue could be increased slightly by using an experienced technician and a trainee or helper. Or you could use a single technician on each job, increasing the chance of lifting and positioning injuries caused by over-extension or twisting while lifting or setting. Damage to the vehicle is also a factor to consider.
Proper sets without the extra expense of setting devices could also be an issue.”

When choosing a labor model, Jon Laski, CEO of St. Paul, Minn.-based City Auto Glass, says shops must consider multiple factors. These include staff levels, the volume of work, the make and model of vehicles, physical capabilities and environmental conditions.

Laski notes that many shops can’t shoulder the financial burden of sending multiple technicians to a single offsite replacement.

“Most businesses can’t afford to put two people in a van or truck on mobile jobs, so a mechanical assistant is a less expensive option,” he says. “In-shop jobs could work either way, depending on the availability of a second, capable person to assist on a consistent basis.”

Does it Really Take Two?

Shops that use two technicians instead of one can see several advantages, Olive says. These include the reduced risk of injury and the tag team’s comfort in working from a routine, making the job go faster. Additionally, proper setting and placement of the windshield
and other parts is easier to achieve with two technicians.

Laski concurs. He says reliance on other technicians is sometimes easier than trusting a piece of hardware.

“Change is hard, and getting past the learning curve and trusting in the new equipment takes time and consistent use of tools,” he says.

He explains that the availability of two technicians means that a shop doesn’t
have to invest in new tools, which could become an issue if the shop ever has to
cut back on labor.

Not every replacement requires multiple technicians, however. The size of the windshield, vehicle and additional obstacles play a part in determining how many technicians are needed.

“Large trucks normally require two technicians to lift and set the glass to prevent injury and have a proper set,” explains Olive. “In the past, these were some of the only vehicles that would require two technicians. Now, with the development of panoramic roofs and
windshields that extend over a portion of the roof or extremely large back glasses, technicians will encounter a number of jobs that require the assistance of a second set of hands to be able to position and place the glass properly.”

Can a Shop Feel Confident Deploying One Technician witha Manipulator?

Of course, says Laski. Manipulators aren’t “new” tools anymore in the windshield replacement industry. Technicians should be trained in how to use them properly, which doesn’t take long to do. It also doesn’t take long for technicians to develop a comfort level with the tool.

“The manipulators available now are several generations evolved from the first ones we saw, and the improvements have been significant,” says Laski. “Instead of being a ‘novelty,’ they’re a proven product with a solid track record of being effective and reliable.”

Laski explains that when properly maintained, manipulators are built to last and handle various windshield sizes, shapes and weights. The tool’s arms and joints also allow a technician to work around most obstacles they encounter.

“These devices enable a sole technician to set and position the glass into the vehicle properly,” says Olive. “Not only should these devices be used for large windows but also for smaller windshields. Using a setting tool will help ensure the correct set is achieved every
time. The more the technician uses the device, the easier the setup becomes.”

Olive adds that “not only is the proper set achieved, but ergonomics for the technician is improved, creating less chance for injury and reducing technician downtime, light-duty restrictions and insurance claims.”

Joshua Huff is a contributing editor for AGRR magazine. Email him at and connect with him on LinkedIn.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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