Reshaping bus windshields with modern technology

By Juha Karisola

 

Windshields for both long-haul and city buses have evolved over the years. Today, they require much more sophistication to keep up with the latest environmental and production regulations. Passengers and drivers, too, require more in terms of comfort and safety. By selecting modern technology, glass processors can effectively serve both markets while staying competitive despite the changing market requirements.

Market trends in the different bus segments

Throughout the world, the major trends of energy efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction and lowering manufacturing costs are affecting the design of modern buses and further guiding the design of bus windshield glazing. Still, today’s bus market can be roughly divided into two different segments that vary considerably from each other in terms of usage, market volume and technology:

  • Long-haul buses operated mostly by private transport enterprises
  • City buses operated by public transportation companies for local traffic

Long-haul buses are primarily operated by private operators for chartered or scheduled long-distance service. The fleets are usually small and therefore, the equipment is purchased in low numbers. They are used for longer distances on highways at high speeds. This places tight requirements on the aerodynamics of these buses to lower fuel consumption and noise. Further, attention is focused on passenger comfort and aesthetics, while luggage room adds to the bus height.

The public transport segment is totally different. These buses are typically operated by public service companies that cover
inner city transport. The fleets are large, and consequently bigger numbers of equipment are needed. Cost alone is a primary issue. Fuel consumption for city buses is important too, but the shorter routes and lower speeds do not set as tight requirements on the aerodynamics or shape of the windshields. Still, maneuvering in busy traffic requires good visibility. And to reduce emissions, lightweight solutions are required, leading to the use of thinner glasses in windshields and sidelites. Due to the importance of cost, designers look for simple shapes, cost-effective constructions and an effective supply chain that also considers replacement service and costs.

Since the entire bus windshield market is relatively limited, glass processors must therefore aim to serve both market segments to be competitive. To match the needs of both segments, a processor needs equipment with the flexibility to process very short series or even single pieces.

This article gives a short overview of how the bending equipment has evolved and what kinds of solutions are available for windshield processing today. Read more