The leading topic for this month’s issue is New Technology. There is a world of new roofing-oriented enterprise systems, GPS apps, energy-saving roofing systems and aerial imaging systems.

While these technologies may be new, there is nothing new about this topic. Since the beginning of the roofing industry, we have never lacked for game-changing technologies.

When I started in the roofing industry, the new technologies were much about built-up roofing (BUR) systems and installation equipment changing to adapt to new high-speed lightweight construction methods.

These technologies began to fade as single-ply roofing systems, less labor and equipment intensive than BUR, began to dominate. As the single-ply revolution took hold, asphalt roofing stayed in the game with modified bitumen systems.

As new technologies in manufacturing and building materials continue to improve on all fronts, the business operations technologies of the roof-contracting industry have also changed.

So what is changing now, and how will it impact your roofing business in the future? Not sure which will ultimately win, but here are a few of my picks that are changing the game now or will soon.

Business communication continues to change with increasing use of teleconferencing, video conferencing and Web conferencing as ways of communicating across wide groups. With emerging enhancements to the infrastructure that delivers the bandwidth needed to deliver these services, providers will introduce more/faster/better communications tools, including some we simply have not imagined yet.

As for email, it is being nudged out by text messages and Tweets. I believe the move from desktop to laptop to tablet is finally taking business to the promised land of the paperless enterprise.

I believe building information modeling (BIM) will continue to emerge as one of the most productive tools in the history of building in the modern era.

As robotics have been in use in the factory for four decades or more, they will be used to produce metal roofing systems on the jobsite. The ability to roll out the perfect parts, virtually waste free, in real time as they are being assembled on the roof adds value in more ways than I have room to describe here.

Aerial imaging will grow from an estimating tool into new services for roofing and other contractors. As the images become more robust, they will have the ability to monitor the building envelope and even become a more important tool for roof inspectors.

The building envelope continues to be one of the superstars of energy-efficient building design. Roof membranes, coatings and insulation material technologies will continue to be forced forward by demand.

I believe we will be using drones for roof estimating and inspections sooner rather than later. Check out the links to some examples of how this is being played out today.

As you work to keep up with changing technologies, I hope you will keep dreaming. Many of the innovations the roofing industry enjoys today come from roofing contractors who dared to take their dream to market. Yours could be the next game changer.


April 2013 column on drones:


News report of contractor using a drone to conduct roof inspections:

Roof inspections with drones: