Four Futuristic Technologies that Contractors Can Use Now to Up Productivity — and Competitiveness


By Karen Edwards, RT3

This year has certainly been one for the books. COVID-19 has changed the roofing industry dramatically and required most of us to pivot quickly to change our standard procedures and protocols. It has forced many of us to turn to technology to help meet social distancing requirements and limit face-to-face contact. 

Surprisingly, a recent industry survey conducted by RT3 member Cotney Consulting Group (CCG), found that a large number of roofing contractors are not implementing new technology into their businesses. This is very concerning. John Kenney of CCG explains why, writing, “The answer is that the technological world is constantly evolving, and if you do not keep up with the times, you will eventually fall through the cracks and be left behind.

You may be using an estimating platform, an accounting software and hopefully a customer relationship management tool, but are you asking yourself, "What’s next?” If not, you risk being left behind, struggling to keep up with the contractors who are asking themselves that question and trying new technologies. 

It’s easy to be intimidated by technology — especially if you remember the days when it was cumbersome and expensive, not to mention that it required someone with an information technology background to set it up and maintain it. Some of the older programs and technologies were exceedingly difficult to learn to use and required special training to become proficient. That is no longer the case!

The good news is that technology has evolved! The advances make it more intuitive and easy to learn. And since most of these programs live in the cloud you don’t need a computer degree to maintain or use them. So, if you’re ready to step up your productivity, efficiency and stay ahead of the competition, consider implementing these technologies into your business.

  1. Aerial imagery and measurements. This technology is not new. It was invented and launched by RT3 member EagleView in 2008. If you aren’t using this to remotely assess a home’s roof, obtain dimensions and pitch and develop your estimates, you’re wasting time and money. The technologies have advanced to a point where accuracy is assured. After 12 years, it has proven itself time and again. 

  2. Drone inspection and AI for commercial roof inspections. RT3 members Pointivo and National Roofing Partners teamed up to develop a solution that uses a nationwide network of drone pilots to capture video footage of commercial roofs. Artificial intelligence, combined with machine learning, examines the rooftop and identifies items on the roof and then determines areas that need to be addressed. The machine learning ensures that the more inspections you do, the more accurate the software becomes. Contractors who are using this method talked about it and how it has helped their businesses in the most recent RT3 podcast. 

  3. Virtual reality for safety training. RT3 member and 2019 Innovator of the Year winner, Rackley Roofing, uses the American Society of Safety Professionals' Virtual Reality Fall Protection to train workers. Workers are on a virtual roof, where they are asked to identify the hazards and choose fall protection for their virtual co-worker. When the virtual co-worker falls off the roof, they can see if they were able to save them. Rackley Roofing shared that they have also used the training to let their employees who work in the office or don’t get on roofs to see what it’s like to be up there. A bonus to using virtual reality is that it’s great for recruitment. The company had the longest line at their booth during a high school career fair, with teens waiting to experience the technology. 

  4. Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality tool. RT3 member Ken Kelly of Kelly Roofing is excited about the potential that the HoloLens brings to roofing contractors. Imagine this scenario: You have an experienced older field tech whose knowledge is extremely valuable, but physically unable to climb roofs. The HoloLens allows that team member to be on the roof with a lesser experienced tech, to provide direction, support and guidance on diagnosing issues and performing repairs. 

The time is now to quash any hesitancies and give these technologies a try!