Category: <span>Drones</span>

RT3 Members XAP 360 and Owens Corning Introduce Touchless Roofing Inspection Platform to U.S. Contractors

XAP 360 powered by Kespry’s drone-based aerial intelligence technology provides roofing professionals with granular accuracy and efficiency, enhancing homeowner transparency and satisfaction

XAP 360, a leader in touchless property assessment solutions is collaborating with fellow RT3 member, Owens Corning, a global leader in insulation, roofing, and fiberglass composite materials. The collaboration offers Owens Corning Roofing Contractor (OCCN)  members advanced inspections and reporting tool, OC ProScan. The new business service is designed to deliver transparent and accurate roof inspection experience for homeowners, helping claim payouts occur rapidly while also educating and protecting the contractor’s customer base.

XAP 360 and Owens Corning are working together to provide roofing contractors with a drone-based roofing inspections platform that offers a fully autonomous, touchless technology providing objective third party professional reporting.

“Owens Corning is proud to team up with innovative business services like XAP 360 whose innovative platform will enable Owens Corning Roofing Contractor Network members to differentiate themselves in this virtual selling environment and take their business to the next level,” said Jon Gardner, Contractor Training Leader, Owens Corning.

“With XAP 360 powered by Kespry, roofing professionals and property owners can finally sit at the same table physically or virtually, and communicate honestly and openly,” said Phil Pratt, partner, XAP 360. “We can now bridge the existing uncertainty gap with transparency as XAP 360 is guided by sophisticated technological innovations in aerial intelligence from Kespry. We’ve pushed the roofing industry out of the shadows and into the information age, giving our contractors tools to allow them to seamlessly work in today’s  new business environment.”

About Owens Corning

Owens Corning is a global building and industrial materials leader. The company’s three integrated businesses are dedicated to the manufacture and advancement of a broad range of insulation, roofing and fiberglass composite materials. Leveraging the talents of 19,000 employees in 33 countries, Owens Corning provides innovative products and sustainable solutions that address energy efficiency, product safety, renewable energy, durable infrastructure, and labor productivity. These solutions provide a material difference to the company’s customers and make the world a better place. Based in Toledo, Ohio, USA, the company posted 2019 sales of $7.2 billion. Founded in 1938, it has been a Fortune 500® company for 66 consecutive years. For more information, please visit www.owenscorning.com.

About XAP

XAP 360 is headquartered out of southwest Ohio and brings cutting edge technology to the roofing industry.  XAP 360 was founded by industry professionals dedicated to furthering the trade and building sustainable business solutions by pairing the most advanced aerial inspection software with sound sales and marketing strategies.  XAP 360 is also helping roofing professionals all across North America operate faster, safer and more profitable.

To learn more, visit: www.xap360.com/ocp or email sales@xap360.com

RT3 Members Present on Data and AI at METALCON

By Karen L. Edwards.

METALCON 2019 took place in Steel City – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and RT3 members were well represented at the show, exhibiting and speaking.  On the first day of the show, RT3 hosted a discussion on the importance of artificial intelligence and utilizing data for contractors.

Bill Wilkins of Pointivo spoke about AI and explained that there are a number of companies that offer AI-assisted approaches to roof evaluations.  His company has been working with another RT3 member to develop a system that will do just that. Bill explained asking a person to try to look at an image and identify drains, equipment, ponding water, areas of membrane splits, etc. can be a very time-consuming process.  Ai is a great opportunity to help augment a younger , more inexperienced work force in identifying rooftop conditions and problem areas.

AI can tell you what it thinks is on the roof and provide a confidence level in its identification. How you help is by looking at what it found and either confirming it or correcting it. Each time you provide confirmation or correction, it will learn from the information and keep getting better at what it does. Bill explained that they feel pretty confident that the tool they are introducing next year will be able to reduce the amount of time spent on evaluations by 80 percent through the use of drones and AI.

Key things for AI to be successful is quality data, quantity of data. Bill shared the example of teaching AI to recognize on AC unit on a roof. Because an AC unit is so large, it might only need to ‘see’ 100 images to be able to accurately identify the AC unit every time. Trying to identify hail damage will be harder, because it’s much smaller in size.  The more data, imagery and confirmations it receives, the smarter and faster it becomes.

Josey Parks of Cognitive Contractor shared how AI and data can be a powerful lead and  sales tool for roofing businesses. Josey explained that if you take the records for 1,000 customers and run them through an AI program it will learn from the data. It will recognize patterns of the first 70 percent (or 700 records). Then it will take the next 300 records and predict their behavior based on what it learned from the first 700 and provide them a score.  Contractors should understand the data that they have in their business and how they can structure it to understand what drives your business and your customers.

Josey explained how when he started in metal roofing, he would keep track on a paper of what neighborhoods he had knocked doors in, then he advanced to using a bike trail app to track the locations where he and his sales team had been. They have advanced today to sending emails and plotting on a map (like Google Earth) the locations of the people who opened the email. This allows the canvassers to have an optimized route to work from.

Taking it one step further with the advancement in technology, Josey explained that he is able to use AI to score and predict his leads to the point that it knows which salesperson is the best one to assign that lead to, based on past performance of the sales person.  It’s important to optimize your business and not waste time and resources assigning the wrong leads to the wrong salesperson.

If you missed their talk at METALCON, you can watch it on our Facebook page under Videos.  Be sure to sign up for the Smart Brief e-newsletter to get the latest roofing tech news in your inbox.

 

Is that an OSHA drone flying over your roofing job?

By Karen L. Edwards, RoofersCoffeeShop® Editor.

A recent OSHA memo obtained by Bloomberg under the Freedom of Information Act authorizes investigators to use drones during inspections.

The OSHA memorandum to regional administrators dated May 18, 2018 addresses the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems by OSHA. The memo states that “UAS may be used to collect evidence during inspections in certain workplace settings, including areas that are inaccessible or pose a safety risk to inspection personnel.”

While most contractors strive to ensure the safest working conditions for their employees and crews, OSHA using drones could bring new concerns to employers. As Todd B. Logsdon and Chantell C. Foley of Fisher Phillips wrote in a recent article on Lexicology, an area of concern should be your Fourth Amendment right to object to the expansion of an overbroad expansion. If you say no, does it end there, or will OSHA seek a search warrant?

The memo indicates that inspectors should obtain “express consent” from the employer prior to using UAS on any inspection. This doesn’t address, however, if there are multiple employers on the job site. What constitutes express consent when multiple employers are present?

The OSHA memo spells out that Regional UAS Program Managers will be established in any region using UAS for inspections while it explores a blanket Certificate of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration that would allow nationwide operations.

So, what should you be doing now? Logsdon and Foley suggest that contractors be prepared with a response strategy. Designate an employee who can stand with the OSHA drone operator, just as they would with a rooftop inspection. They also recommend that you not be afraid to limit the inspection. You should be part of the flight planning and should speak up if you don’t agree with the plan.

Trent Cotney, president of the Cotney Construction Law firm, advises employers to proceed with caution when faced with an OSHA request to perform a safety inspection with drone technology. “Employers may want to deny OSHA’s request to the use of drone technology because it opens the door to citations for hazards in plain sight,” he stated. Even though the employer and OSHA investigator have agreed to a specific investigation scope and flight plan, if OSHA finds recognized hazards in “plain sight” they can still issue citations for same. Cotney finished by saying “while the precise legal ramifications of drone inspections may not be crystal clear at this point in time, it’s certain that drones are here to stay.”

There are a lot of factors for contractors to be aware of surrounding the use of drones in general and now their use by OSHA for inspections. Stay up-to-date with the latest news on issues like this by signing up for the RT3 SmartBrief.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop

6 Technology Trends in Construction

By Cotney Construction Law.

Industry innovators are using tech to transform the way construction companies perform a variety of tasks from land inspections to creating structures. Look for new technology to move from something seen at trade shows and in magazines to an essential part of cost effectively building structures and keeping workers safe. They may also become an active part of avoiding disputes.

This article discusses a few of the exciting technological developments that are changing construction sites, both now and in the future. It’s worth investing in one or two of these technologies now to stay ahead of your competition.

Drones

With recent changes in FAA policy regarding drones, expect this technology to be plugged into the construction process in a variety of ways. Drones can be used to inspect construction sites to give quick and efficient insight on potential risks prior to the start of a project. It can give you an overhead view of progress on a construction site and spot issues rapidly. Drones are also being used as surveillance on projects, making it easier for contractors to ensure that jobs are correctly and safely being done.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Tech-forward construction companies are using BIM tools to create 3D simulated models of the structures that are being produced. By doing this, construction professionals can identify potential design issues before projects break ground.

Project Management Apps

The smartphone is already becoming a mainstay on the construction site. Its use will continue to widen with tools like project management apps and digital blueprints. As we all know, general contractors have to juggle a variety of tasks at once. Now, from their phone, they can manage project schedules, send reports, take pictures of potential issues, and compare project data with financial information. Digital blueprint apps allow multiple people to view documents, compare them with collected data, and make changes quickly. It turns the blueprint into a collaborative tool and saves companies money by avoiding costly changes and the type of disputes that may require a construction attorney.

Smart Helmets

The hard hat is now taking head protection to the next level. Smart helmets are devices that can help users detect hazards around them. This is done through the use of cameras and sensors within the helmet that create a 4D augmented reality.

Automated Robots

Automated robots are being programmed to perform a number of tasks on the construction site, including drilling, bricklaying, and constructing beams. Eventually, these robots will be able to construct structures without people on site. This can greatly reduce the cost of onsite workers and reduce safety concerns.

Driverless Trucks

Another automated technology, driverless trucks are also making construction sites safer by hauling materials independent of a driver. These trucks are controlled remotely using GPS technology. They are more fuel efficient and experience fewer delays than trucks with human drivers. This can make the construction site safer and reduce the type of disputes for which a Sarasota construction attorney is needed.

Note: This first published on Cotney Construction Law’s website and can be viewed here.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

3 Ways to Improve Communication on Your Jobsite with Drones

By Devon Tackles.

Keeping tabs on a construction project is no small task. Every job has many moving parts. From tracking progress to managing subcontractors, communicating across teams can be challenging — no matter the size of your organization. The good news is, by spending less than an hour each week mapping your jobsite with drones, you’ll gain an entire toolkit to help you and your team work more efficiently, make more informed decisions, and communicate with ease.

Drone maps and models not only provide an aerial view of your project, but each map includes a rich set of data that can be used to further measure and analyze just about anything on a site. Here are three ways you can improve communication on your jobsite with the use of drones and aerial maps.

  1. Project Monitoring and Site Inspection

DroneDeploy, an industry leader in drone mapping software, discovered that 60% of their customers make maps weekly. This regular, overhead view is invaluable when it comes to tracking progress and inspecting for safety issues on construction projects. “Drone maps give my team a bird’s eye view of the site, which looks a lot different than being on the ground,” explained Matthew Forster, Project Engineer for Choate Construction. “It gives them a full picture.”

Although nothing replaces boots on the ground, weekly drone maps can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend walking an entire site for the purposes of inspection and monitoring. For more advanced oversight, you can import and overlay site plans right in the DroneDeploy interface, or export your maps into industry software like BIM, GIS, and CAD. You can easily export your data in the format you need or use open APIs to sync your data with everyday tools.

Contract Project Manager Nick Johnson of Tilt Rock of Texas does this to help him manage large, custom home projects. Homeowners make frequent changes to house footprints, models, and orientation, so Johnson overlays drone maps with utility, wastewater, and communications plans to help him can catch conflicts with services before they actually happen and redirect them at minimal cost.

“Aerial imagery identifies conflicts I wouldn’t normally see from the ground level. Now, I find out about conflicts in a matter of days, instead of months.”- Nick Johnson, Project Manager, Tilt Rock of Texas

  1. Take Volume and Area Measurements, Estimate Stockpiles, and Monitor Earthwork

Every location on a drone map is geotagged, so you can take basic measurements almost instantly, from any device. For situations that require centimeter-level accuracy, ground control points (GCPs) can be added to a map. These marked targets help mapping software accurately position your map in relation to the real world and afford the accuracy needed to make precise volumetric and linear measurements.

“I can tell how many square feet of roof we’ve put down, how much square footage of concrete is left to pour,” Ryan Moret, Field Solutions Manager at McCarthy Building Companies, said. “If we’re trying to figure out truck access, we can measure the width of a road or gate or how much room we need to clear out for material to make the site clean and organized.”

  1. Share Insights, Align Teams, and Inform Stakeholders

Drones make collaboration and information sharing, both internally and externally, easier than ever before. Cloud-based platforms make it easy to share annotated maps between team members, or keep external stakeholders up-to-speed on the progress of a project.

In contractor meetings, having a clear display of any current site issues is a powerful communication tool. Likewise, having an up-to-date drone map helps distribute information efficiently, even among large teams. Streamline the decision-making process by referencing a drone map any time changes need to be made to a project.

McCarthy Building Companies uses drones in many high-tech ways, but at the end of the day, “paper is still the common denominator for jobsites,” says Moret. On every McCarthy site, the wall of the job trailer is covered with weekly drone maps posted in sequence, giving anyone who walks into the room a clear picture of the project’s progress over time, as well as a snapshot of any current issues on the site.

“The trades love it, being able to walk up to the wall and see nine weeks of construction photos,” Moret said. “They pull these up in every sub meeting, every owner meeting. We have data from that week to show contractors, ‘hey, the site’s a mess; you guys need to go clean it up.’ You can see rebar spread out all over the place, so there’s no arguing. They see it for what it’s worth.”

BuiltWorlds partnered with DroneDeploy to bring you this article. You can read the full version of this piece here.

RT3 Members Discuss the Current Issues, Trends and Opportunities for Technology in the Roofing Industry

by Anita Lum

Technology has been at the forefront of nearly every industry for the past decade and roofing is no exception. The industry is ripe for change and has been transforming rapidly as more and more contractors embrace the use of technology in their day-to-day operations. David Huval of National Roofing Partners interviewed Trent Cotney of Cotney Construction Law, Lynn Foster of AccuLynx, and Tom Whitaker of Harness Software, to learn more about the current issues, trends, and opportunities with technology in the roofing industry during the International Roofing Expo in New Orleans.

Both Cotney and Whitaker expressed a current challenge that the whole industry can resonate with – the lack of skilled labor. To combat that need, the adoption of technology in the workplace is critical. Technology can be used to supplement this shortage by doing more with less; there are currently programs geared towards all facets of construction, including project management, work orders and health and safety.

Opportunities for technology in the industry are plenty. With the integration of applications in the workplace, the industry as a whole can really go digital. For instance, smartphones and tablets have become part of our daily lives, so integrating it into our businesses should be the next step. As Foster put it, “…the next couple of years is really going to be the mobile revolution.” This technology will allow instant transmission of information from the field to the office, which is critical to increase efficiency, decrease risks, and drive performance.

Other trends in roofing technology include drones; “Drone technology has gotten so much better over the last few years and it’s going to continue to make a huge impact,” said Whitaker. Cotney mentions the use of blockchain, a new way of engaging in contract payment method, to improve productivity by cutting out the middlemen.  According to Foster, integration is also set take off in the next couple years with “all these different entities getting together on one platform and integrating.” This will ensure much smoother processes by keeping all business information in one space.

While the roofing industry has been slow to adopt the new technology into their processes, this is beginning to change. With the technology tools identified by Cotney, Foster, and Whitaker, roofers can streamline workflows, manage clients, and share projects across the board, and ultimately grow their business.

Watch a recap of the interviews below.

Top 4 Benefits of Drones in Construction

By DroneBase.

Drones are an innovative solution to deliver sophisticated analytics, provide a visual progress report, and allow worksite managers to track, map, survey, and manage projects easily. They are used on hundreds of sites nationwide and are equipped to perform construction flights safely, efficiently, and under compliance with all worksite regulations.

Plenty of construction professionals use drones to take their projects (and efficiencies!) to the next level. Here are a few of the top reasons contractors choose drones for their worksite needs.

1 – Site progress

Get project updates as they happen, regardless of your proximity to the worksite.

2 – Stakeholder communication

Share visual project updates with key stakeholders to keep all parties informed on progress.

3 – Surveying

Gather analytics via drone to vastly reduce time associated with traditional forms of site mapping.

4 – Stockpile measurements

Collect accurate volume data with a fraction of the manual labor.

 

Note: This article first appeared on DroneBase’s blog and can be viewed here.

Photo: Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

How aerial view maps rethink roofing

By Nick Bean, Nearmap.

 

The basic skills of building, replacing or repairing a roof haven’t changed much in centuries. Improvements in materials—from thatch and wood shingles to slate and asphalt tiles—unfolded over this time. But rapid changes in technology- including updated aerial view maps –  have helped roofers of every scale radically improve their businesses, and do it quickly.

 

Progressive roofing companies often use a blend of technologies these days. They might combine their standard practices with aerial measurement services to captures aerial views from 15°-45° (a.k.a., “oblique”) angles and top-down (or “orthogonal”) perspectives. Or they might purchase roof-measurement reports or decide to deploy deploys drones to provide visual information.

 

All that is fine—provided the roof of your target customer isn’t obscured by trees, limiting your prospecting to a relatively small area and resulting in inaccurate measurements. As you might imagine, many reports are not based on leaf-off imagery, the best satellite maps lack detail, and drones are typically flown on demand, regardless of foliage conditions.

 

Unfortunately, roofers have tight windows of opportunity to operate. They can become busiest right after a hurricane, a tornado, a hailstorm, or heavy snow coupled with high winds. Your lines may be flooded with calls from damage-sustaining households across a wide area. Even in good conditions, roofing companies are required to continuously prospect, estimate and quote with detailed measurements as they compete for business, one street and neighborhood after another.

 

In a highly competitive business, roofers need every edge they can get. Prospective customers want accurate repair quotes—and they want them quickly. So why wouldn’t you choose a tool that can give them both and, at the same time, enable you to accelerate your business?

 

High-resolution aerial imagery, captured multiple times per year offering leaf-on and leaf-off views, gives roofers exceptional perspective and a distinct advantage over many competitors. If that information can be instantly accessed from any laptop, mobile or connected device, all the better.

 

How does this razor-sharp information help you in your business? After a catastrophe, a roofer’s time is scarce. Every hour traveling from one job location to another eats up this precious time when you could just as well identify new prospects in minutes from your desktop. With high-definition aerial imagery, you can instantly scan thousands of rooftops at a tap or a click of the mouse. With a couple of clicks you can switch from vertical to panoramic to oblique views and swiftly identify roofing opportunities.

 

The most sophisticated visual tools are now available to everyone that let you generate precise measurements of rooflines and areas. Using an oblique feature, you can compare different roofs for accurate estimates of pitch. With some imagery software you can also annotate sections of the images—noting, for example, severe damage in a given corner, the need to pay particular attention to an especially steep area of the roof, or an area of the property with easy access to unload roofing materials. (Of course, you can check these calculations when you visit the site.)

 

Saving countless hours, operating from the convenience of your office, you can create dozens of accurate estimates per day, as well as get a fix on your underlying costs since you have all the visual information you need right at your desktop (or tablet or mobile device). And you can generate a visually stunning, highly accurate quote for prospects: they can see the damage up close and immediately grasp the extent of necessary work. That sort of presentation builds confidence—an advantage many of your competitors probably can’t offer. You build trust and are more likely to get a Yes or No from a customer on the spot.

 

The advantages of aerial imagery include not only leaf-off and leaf-on perspectives. Now roofers can easily navigate from vertical top-down perspectives to oblique angles while measuring height and width of the buildings and roofs. With easy and cost-effective access to rich, high resolution maps, you can work faster and smarter—and thereby increase your business. It’s a vital service whether you’re a large contractor, a midsize organization, or a mom-and-pop outfit with just a couple of employees.

 

Roofing may be an ancient profession. But to stay in business, you need every available advantage—today’s aerial imagery saves time, lowers costs, and may well be your most productive resource.

 

Note: This article first appeared on RoofersCoffeeShop.com blog and can be viewed here.

Extending the Life of your Drone

By Malek Murison.

Drones are not like mobile phones. Ideally, you don’t want to be buying or upgrading to a new model every year. Instead, look at it as an investment in your aerial photography skills: the best way to reap the rewards is to keep your drone in great shape and performing to the max for as long as possible.

Think about coverage

The first thing you should do after buying a new drone is to organize some kind of cover. Things can (and probably will) go wrong at some point. The last thing you want is for your $1,000 gadget’s value to plummet down to $0.

Your best way to stop that from happening is to arrange insurance. Better still, most manufacturers offer coverage for the first year. For example, DJI’s Care Refresh package can be bought alongside a new drone to give you peace of mind and practical support in case you crash or damage your drone.

The company will attempt to get it working again or supply you with a new model.

Keeping on top of pre-flight checklists

Once that first year is through, most coverage policies will run out and regular insurance will be your best bet.

But besides that, you can extend the life of your drone by developing a flight routine based on care and accident prevention.

The best way to do that is to stick rigorously to a comprehensive pre-flight checklist. Keep on top of the status of your drone and avoid flying if there are any obvious problems or faults.

Keeping your drone safe when it’s not in use

As a drone pilot, one of the most frustrating things that can happen is your gear getting damaged when it’s not even in use.

Taking care when charging, installing updates and storing your drone is the best way t stop that from happening. Find as sturdy a case as possible to store your drone, and keep it out of the way of kids, pets and the elements.

Looking after drone batteries

A question plenty of pilots have is how to extends (or at least maintain) the life of drone batteries. Every second counts when you’re up in the air, so keeping your batteries performing to the max is essential.

Most drone manufacturers state that lithium polymer batteries should be stored at a temperature of between 5ºC and 27ºC. The lower the temperature the better, in fact. If they are being packed away for the long term, battery experts recommend making sure they have around 40% of charge.

When it comes to charging, the most common way to damage a LiPo battery is by overcharging it. So once your batteries hit 100%, unplug them. Experts also suggest that letting your battery drain to 0% on a regular basis will reduce its life in the long term.

 

Buying new batteries for your drone is usually an expensive process. Taking a few easy steps can help keep yours in good condition.

Practicing in something expendable

The majority of crashes and accidents happen when drone pilots are new on the scene or when complacency creeps in. So the best way to keep your valuable gear intact is to grow in confidence and gain more experience behind the controls.

For those in the former category, it’s a good idea to try your hand at flying something cheaper and relatively expendable. There are plenty of drones for beginners out there that won’t break the bank. You can also check out our post on the common mistakes drone pilots make to learn from the mishaps of others.

Interested in finding a drone that can extend your flight time, too? Check out this rundown of which drones stay in the air for longest.

Note: This blog first appeared on RT3 member Drone Base’s blog and can be viewed here.