The need for technology advancement in the roofing industry is apparent. It is a movement that continues to gain strength, not just in roofing but in construction and society overall. Being a part of bringing new and disruptive services to the roofing industry is important to RoofersCoffeeShop.com. We are committed to be the leader in providing a digital network that helps educate, entertain and build the roofing industry. The Coffee Shop has been delivering digital information since 2002 and the growth we have seen in the last three years is phenomenal.
Working and learning from roofing contractors across the country, it has become obvious that we need to help lead the adoption of technology in the roofing industry. We are committed to working across the industry to learn more about new and existing technologies that can help roofing contractors in their business processes and operations. RoofersCoffeeShop.com was one of the founders of a new group of industry thought leaders that recently came together to form the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3).
The think tank includes a wide range of manufacturers, distributors, roofing contractors and technology companies, that are leading the initiative to bring as much information about technology into the industry as possible. It is not an association but a think tank that is dedicated to learning and then implementing innovative solutions that will make the roofing industry safer, smarter and more productive.
As contractors look at incorporating more technology into their business, I would recommend thinking big. Follow both the Coffee Shop and RT3 as they deliver articles and research on innovative programs, tools, equipment and cloud-based solutions that can evolve your business. It is easy to just think about cloud-based software or mobile devices but there is a lot out there that can help with the labor shortage and overall improvements in productivity and profitability. Here are top areas that I currently see stirring a lot of excitement around technology and roofing.
Imagine if a computer could look at an aerial image of a building and without any human help, create measurements and assess damage within seconds. It is very close to becoming a reality with companies that are utilizing artificial intelligence. According to Wikipedia, AI is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. Remember when aerial imagery measurement reports changed the industry? This is the next level and it will re-define the speed that we are able to evaluate and quote roofing jobs. Customer expectations will rise to all new levels, especially when this is combined with websites that support an independent customer experience.
AI is also going to make an enormous difference in safety regulations. There are companies right now who can capture video on jobsites that detect when employees are not in safety compliance and alert supervisors. AI is constantly monitoring and looking for pre-defined rules of what employees should be wearing (hard hat), where they should or should not be (restricted areas) and what they are doing (productivity). It will offer eyes on the site that will save lives and increase productivity.
Imagine that AI measurement and damage report being sent to roofing contractors minutes after natural disasters. Companies are currently working on pre-arranged flight programs for drones that will deliver imagery as soon as drones can begin flying. With pilots and drone networks appearing every day, the ability to get imagery faster and at higher resolution is a reality that is right around the corner.
Imagine the next generation of roofing crews being trained not only on quality roofing installations but also on the ability to operate the robots that are doing the hardest parts of the job. The next generation will be experts in running and repairing robots that are laying membrane and hammering shingles. It may seem very futuristic, but companies are already selling equipment for roofing installation that is more like robots then traditional equipment. Check out Soprema’s MINI-MACADEN®, a machine for laying bituminous membranes and you will see what I mean.
Imagine customers watching their phone as your roofing trucks pull up and their materials are delivered. We do it now with Uber, we watch the car on our phone until it pulls up to pick us up. It is already happening with some contractors who communicate through portals and mobile, to show their customers the material delivery and crew travel details with pictures of little roofing trucks making their way to the job. And in the home office, operations and dispatch is watching too. Along with GPS enabled fleets, watch for GPS enabled tools. DeWalt and others are doing amazing work to help stop theft from jobsites with GPS enabled tools that have auto kill switches when taken out of range.
Imagine picking out the color and style of your roof while standing in your front yard with goggles. VR goggles are being actively used in architecture and city planning. Customers step into a new world looking at what could be while relating it to what they are seeing in front of them. Soprema once again is leading the way with sopremavr.com. Check out the future of how customers will be making decisions and watching job progress.
Some of the earliest adoption of technology has been cloud-based software. The cloud has changed our world and cloud-based solutions are changing the way roofing contractors handle sales, marketing and production planning and execution. The Coffee Shop partners with great software companies including Nearmap, FCS, Contractors Cloud, JobNimbus, AccuLynx and Harness. These companies have taken excel sheets and manual activities and created easy-to-use applications that make your business work better. It is worth the time to see what they offer.
The key to understanding what the technology can do for your company is communication. Use your network here on the Coffee Shop. Ask questions in the forum, explore the technology blog and research the directory. Information is key and the fact that you are reading this is the first step to finding amazing solutions to grow your business.
Heidi Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com. See her full bio here.