Windscreen Manufacturers – What do they Really Mean?

 

“We fit OEM standard glass” is a statement trotted out by many windscreen replacement companies, and unless you are fulfilling your offer by fitting genuine, car manufacturer-branded or OEM branded glass, you’re well, misleading us all. The end users will think they’re getting manufacturer authentic, genuine parts but they’re not, and most will be unaware of the difference. Windscreens and other vehicle glass which are not OEM branded are often described as ‘OEM equivalent’. Another confusing statement.

This confusion can be traced back to the manufacturers.

But first and foremost, a distinction must be made between OEM branded windscreens and (glass) and (glass) manufacturer-branded aftermarket, or what some people may refer to as ‘copy’ glass. There are some automotive glass manufacturers who produce ‘genuine’ glass which is fitted to cars during assembly as well as supplied to their OEM (or, main dealer) parts networks; some manufacturers cater for the aftermarket glass replacement (AGR) market and some will supply both industry sectors. Some of these brands are better known than others, but how can you tell the difference? For example, Guardian Llodio Uno S.L manufacture glass for some Audi models and the glass will display the Audi ‘four rings’ logo above their own. Guardian Llodio Uno S.L also produce a ‘non branded’ glass which does not feature the Audi logo. A question often asked is, is it the same glass with one obvious difference in detail? Many installers will tell you it’s the same glass off the same production line. There also some windscreens (and vehicle body glass) which fall into both categories. Pilkington produces windscreens for SEAT cars; the Ibiza model for example, will clearly feature the ‘SEAT’ logo. A windscreen via an authorised SEAT dealer parts seller will also feature the same logo however, the same glass from an aftermarket supplier will have the SEAT logo removed (usually by laser) and overlaid with a black Pilkington logo:

Seat OEM Windscreen by Pilkington

Seat OEM Windscreen by Pilkington

Pilkington Windscreen for Seat

Pilkington Windscreen for Seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, no definitive answer why this is. It could well be required due to restrictions imposed by commercially complicated bureaucracy. But Pilkington’s Executive Director Pat Zito ‘certifies’ their products by stating:

“Pilkington manufacturing processes and products meet the highest quality standards set by the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers. All Pilkington glass products supplied are always certified ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT PARTS and ORIGINAL SPARE PARTS”

Aftermarket (AGR) glass versus Genuine (OEM). Same, or different?

“Antonio Girbrau Ortega, Superior Ind Engineer and Quality Manager of Guardian Llodio Uno S. L.

C E R T I F I E S

That all replacement glazing produced by Guardian Llodio Uno S. L.., identified with the Guardian logo, are manufactured according to the same specifications and standards as the Original Equipment used for vehicles. It means that the replacement glazing has the same quality as the Original Equipment parts.

Besides, the Company is in the possession of the following Quality System Standards:

ISO 9001 : 2.000

Automotive Standard QS-9000

Automotive Standard VDA 6.1″

At face value, it all seems fairly straight forward, and glancing at the Quality Manager’s statement appears to confirm that there is no “quality” difference between an OEM Guardian glass and a non-branded equivalent.

Andrea Vietti Ramus – Quality Manager ARG Europe for Asahi Glass Company (AGC) and Spintex glass – has an interestingly different choice of key words:

“This is to confirm that all products made by Splintex for the ARG market respond to OEM main technical and aesthetic characteristics.
Furthermore, all Splintex products are homologated according to:

European R43 regulation, revision 1 – add. 42 (March 1987) of UN and European Directive 92/22 (1992)
American Standard ANSI Z.26.1.

Finally, please note that Splintex products specifically for the ARG market do not bear the car manufacturer logo”

What exactly does ‘respond to’ mean? There is a criteria set out and our products respond to it? It would be reassuring to the end user if products surpassed those prerequisites, surely? But if their non OEM glass “responds” merely to “main technical and aesthetic characteristics” could mean that the glass looks the same (aesthetically) and is the same size (technically). This statement could, technically speaking, apply to mock designer handbags or faked expensive watches, “this watch responds to Breitling’s  design criteria”.

Taken from their website, Polish manufacturers Nordglass state:

“NordGlass company produces high-class windscreens for over 650 popular car models sold in Europe. Our company also deals with the distribution and selling of side and rear windows as well as accessories necessary for the assembly of car windscreens.

We offer our Customers a product that is compliant with the strictest requirements of the industry, for original parts as well, with all necessary legal requirements. Our products meet OEM standards both in terms of materials used and technological process parameters, therefore obtaining the assumed technical specification of this product line.”

The glass manufacturing business is now busier and more competitive that it has ever been. There are Chinese brands, Polish, South African and Turkish manufacturers all pitching to produce more and more glass for the AGR and, or OEM markets. It’s even evident on new cars; the front windscreen, the door glasses and the heated rear window might all bear the same car manufacturer logo, but the glass itself might be from three different manufacturers.

One thing we can be sure of is if your glass comes via an OEM source and is branded with the vehicle manufacturer logo, it’s about as genuine as you can get. But with the others, take your chances. It looks the same, it might measure the same; the product ‘responds’ the same, but nobody can tell us if it really is the same.