One might say the modern armored car industry really started in the mid-1970s with the introduction of curved ballistic OEM replacement glass.
This innovation made armored vehicles look like a standard vehicle as opposed to the flat glass windshields found in money carriers (like a Brinks truck) that were an instant tip-off. Protection could be accomplished without letting everyone know about it, and orders started coming from corporate America.
Most security directors have little knowledge of ballistics. Armoring is a complex task involving physics, kinesiology, ballistic science and materials all related to the mission of the vehicle.
The following is a simple checklist that any security manager or procurement officer should consider before and during the purchase of vehicle armor:
Educate themselves on ballistic standards and armor defeat levels.
Determine the true threat level for the locale under consideration.
Construct a detailed request for quote and ask for specific international armor standards, type of materials to be used (both opaque and transparent armor), weight addition (at net) of armor vs. vehicle payload, warranty information, testing protocols, laboratory certifications of tested materials and a list of referrals.
Be highly analytical of all information received on bids, compare every detail and get clarification when there are doubts.
Visit the armorer in person prior to awarding the bid, audit the factory and view other vehicles under construction. Get sample materials firsthand.
Award fees on a performance basis. Make payments upon completion of stages.
Douglas Kennedy, the managing partner of Far West Consulting Group, Deerfield Beach, Fla., deals primarily with Fortune 250 firms to assess needs and implement armoring programs for their executives worldwide. E-mail him at email@example.com.