Tag: <span>Innovation</span>

RT3 Members Explore the Innovative World of 3M

By Karen L. Edwards, RT3.

Words aren’t going to do this event justice. There were so many incredible things we learned about 3M while touring their World of Innovation Center and hearing presentations from Maureen Kavanagh, Laboratory Manager and Josh Orman, Strategy and Marketing Manager, both from the Industrial and Mineral Products Division.

From a roofing industry perspective, most of the RT3 members knew that 3M makes the granules that are used in asphalt roofing products. We were also aware that 3M had created some pretty cool granule technologies including algae-resistant and smog-reducing granules (recognized by Time Magazine in 2018 as a Best Invention). What we didn’t realize was how 3M innovations are everywhere. There is a saying that wherever you are, there is probably a 3M product within 10 feet of you.

The World of Innovation was where RT3 members learned about the many innovations and provided a hands-on experience to see many of the technologies and experience how the products worked. We learned a little bit about William L. McKnight, 3M president from 1929 – 1949 and Chairman of the Board from 1949-1966. He was known for the saying “hire good people and leave them alone.” McKnight created a culture of inclusiveness, diversity and innovation.

To this day, 3M employees are encouraged to spend 15 percent of their working hours developing new ideas and solutions. Our host, Maureen, explained in her overview of the company that 3M sees itself as a company that develops solutions to its customers problems. That got the attention of RT3 Members as they headed into breakout sessions to discuss some of the roofing industry issues that 3M might be able to help us solve. There were some creative ideas that came from the session that if possible, could really impact our industry.

The ideas included:

  • Robotic tearoffs
  • 3D manufacturing
  • Tarps that are like Post-it® notes

    Creating safer safety harnesses that predict energy absorption
  • Fastening applications using their adhesives
  • Safety strips for steep-slope roofs
  • Scaffolding in truck to eliminate ladders
  • Sensors in the roof system to eliminate need for core samples
  • Carfax for roof history to see past damage
  • Emergency temporary spray for repairs
  • Insulation that bleeds through membrane if there is a leak for easy identification
  • Pressure seals between layers of insulation to detect leaks
  • Storm kits
  • Full head gear systems for silica safety, fan-force air out and create cool air inside
  • Clothing that prevents heat exhaustion
  • Smog reduction into more materials than granules, i.e. tile
  • Carbon capture technology
  • Printed single ply to resemble shingles, shakes, etc. to increase SRI
  • Retractable lifelines that elevate above the roof
  • Leak detectors under the roof to alert before significant damage occurs
  • Solar integrated roofing systems
  • Ergonomic tape for tools
  • Non-stick, gripping material for work boot soles and roofing materials
  • Granules in spray format to extend roof life and reduce smog for existing roofs
  • Water recapture systems with sanitization
  • Film for over skylights that can support body weight
  • Safety gear that alerts employers if it is removed

After RT3 members shared their ideas for the 15-percent time, the group discussed ideas for future meetup locations and other initiatives, such as the development of a technology-focused podcast. The day concluded with a visit to the 3M Roofing Innovation Center with a tour of how color blends are created and how samples are run to visualize what the new blend would look like on a roof.

It is our hope that by learning about innovations in other industries, it might be possible to adapt those solutions for use in the roofing industry. By meeting with innovators and problem solvers like 3M, we provide insight into the challenges being faced in the roofing industry with the goal of developing new technology solutions that can change the industry and improve health, safety and material performance.

Stay up to date on the latest roofing technology news and happenings when you sign up for the RT3 SmartBrief e-newsletter.

Roofing Technology Think Tank Announces Innovator of the Year

Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), a group of progressive roofing professionals focused on technology solutions for the roofing industry, awarded the Innovator of the Year award to Curtis Sutton of Carthage, Tennessee-based Rackley Roofing. The award was presented at the 2019 Best of Success Conference in Miami.

“We had many great nominations and it was very hard to narrow the field down to just one,” stated Anna Anderson, Award Task Team Leader and RT3 Board Member. “We selected Rackley Roofing because they embrace technology and have demonstrated that they are early adopters when it comes to implementing new innovations.”

In an interview after the presentation, Reid Ribble commented on the importance of innovation in roofing, saying, “Given the workforce demands and the changing technology, the companies that are innovating are going to be winning. Innovation really matters if we are going to reach out to that new, young 18-, 19- or 20-year old worker who still sees roofing as something hot and dirty and not something technologically advanced.”

Curtis Sutton, President of Rackley Roofing commented on winning the award, “It’s an honor because innovation is one of our six core values. Innovation is driven in our company. Innovation to us also means being open to change. We lead everything with technology in the decisions we make in our company.”

Sutton brings a respect for the traditional craftsmanship of a professional roofer and passion for the latest technological innovations. Under his leadership, Rackley has introduced industry-leading technologies like Rackley RoofCheck and Rackley RoofView. They have implemented the use of virtual reality safety headsets that allow everyone to experience being on a roof and learn best safety practices. The company is beginning the use of in-ear translators that can translate speech into any language and dialect.

As a founding sponsor of National Women in Roofing and a member of RT3, the company is committed to always innovating and learning about new technologies and solutions that will help advance the roofing industry overall.

About Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3)
Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) strives to find innovative technology solutions to be used within the roofing industry. RT3 provides insights from progressive thought leaders both inside and outside the roofing industry along with practical resources for implementing potential solutions successfully. The organization will encourage and enable contractors to embrace technology as they seek to grow their businesses. With a commitment to disseminate technology advancement information, RT3 will help build the professionalism and appeal of the roofing industry. Learn more at www.rt3thinktank.com.

Photo: (L-R) Jill Bloom, Publisher, Roofing Contractor; Michelle Boykin, COO, Rackley Roofing; Curtis Sutton, President, Rackley Roofing, Anna Anderson, CEO, Art Unlimited; Charles Antis, CEO, Antis Roofing.

Asphalt an innovative technology? You’d be surprised.

By Karen L. Edwards.

Despite being around for years, the asphalt roofing industry is constantly innovating and developing new technologies. This conversation with Reed Hitchcock, EVP of the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association talk about the innovation and where asphalt is headed.

ARMA is the North American trade association representing the producers of asphalt roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, built-up-roofing (BUR) and modified bitumen roofing, as well as the industry’s suppliers of raw materials. According to Reed Hitchcock, ARMA EVP, the association represents about 80 percent of the producers of low-slope asphalt roofing materials and 99 percent of the asphalt shingles manufacturers. If anyone has their finger on the pulse of the asphalt roofing industry, it’s Reed. Reed’s been involved with ARMA since 2003 and became the executive vice president in 2007.

ARMA advocates and advances the interests of the asphalt roofing industry by leveraging the collective expertise of its members, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the industry. “What’s unique about ARMA is that unlike other trade associations, our Executive Committee is populated by the CEOs and owners of the companies that we represent,” he explained. “This allows us to be nimble and strategic as an organization.”

The labor challenges.

“Across the roofing and construction industries, labor is a huge challenge, both on and off the roof,” said Reed. “There are shortages of truck drivers to move materials, shortages of workers to install roofing systems, and shortages of workers in the manufacturing plants.”

One way of addressing this is immigration reform that meets workforce needs, which is an issue that ARMA and the NRCA recently supported in Washington, D.C. on Roofing Day. The day was spent encouraging legislators to support the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act (H.R. 1740) and the Dream and Promise Act (H.R.6), which would tackle chronic workforce shortages and establish a market-driven visa system, enabling employers to grow their business and fill currently empty roles nationwide.

“We need smart immigration now because across the industry, employers are struggling to fill good paying jobs, which is a sign the workforce is not large enough,” Reed said. “Our industry as a whole does a poor job promoting the good living somebody can make and clearly explaining the career paths available. Employment can begin on the roof as a laborer and evolve into other roles like a foreman, supervisor or sales person. Those same opportunities for growth exist in our manufacturing plants, as well.”

As the existing workforce is aging and retiring, effort needs to go into bringing the younger generation into the industry. Reed says they are seeing this happen in their association, as well. “We see the same thing in a microcosmic level. The experts in our committees and task forces are aging and the younger members are already in their late 40s. A major initiative for ARMA is to engage the up-and-comers from our member companies in the association.”

The future of asphalt roofing.

“One of the things that we wrestle with all the time is the perception that asphalt is old technology, but the industry is constantly producing new, innovative technologies,” explained Reed. “One of the most recent examples is the advancement in granule technologies, such as granules that can reduce smog and that can reflect the sun’s rays.”

Reed said that he thinks we will start seeing more polymer modified asphalt used for shingles. It’s a proven, seasoned technology, and industry developments in the quality of the available asphalt may provide an opportunity for expansion. “Modified bitumen membranes have used polymer modified asphalt for years, but it’s not a technology that we’ve traditionally seen in mainstream shingles.”

“The other thing we see is the explosion of innovation on the floor of industry trade shows, where companies are presenting inventive and creative technologies in aesthetics, engineering, durability, and even installation,” Reed observed. “Asphalt really is a versatile material, from making a shingle with the aesthetic of slate, shake or tile, or creating an energy-saving membrane. We see this in our Excellence in Asphalt Roofing awards program too, where incredible projects from across North America demonstrate asphalt roofing’s aesthetic appeal, performance and durability for homes and buildings.”

Health and safety are a focus.

ARMA is heavily involved in health, safety and environmental issues, as well. “Since chemical use is involved, it’s important to ensure that our manufacturing plants are safe environments; our manufacturers always want to make sure workers are safe. The industry’s put a lot of time and effort into just ensuring work safety and quality,” explained Reed.

ARMA also provides comments and education on regulatory matters such as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activities related to manufacturing. “We engage on EPA activities for the benefit of our members’ manufacturing facilities. It keeps our members informed and makes sure we respectfully educate the regulators; we want to make sure that they understand our industry.”

Regulators do not always understand how the products work and how people interact with them, so ARMA focuses on being the educator to ensure that the regulations that are enacted are fair and meet the goal to protect people and property.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop.

RT3 Plans Activities Around the International Roofing Expo (IRE)

Members of RT3 will kickoff their activities at the IRE by hosting a meetup on Sunday, February 10 at 2 p.m. at Vanderbilt University. The meetup will allow members to review their various task teams’ progress on initiatives that were identified last fall when the group gathered at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. Following a tech talk by Larry Bridgesmith, Adjunct Professor of Law and Coordinator, Program on Law & Innovation, RT3 members will tour the Wond’ry, the epicenter for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Vanderbilt University.

RT3 will also host an educational panel on Wednesday, February 13 at 7:45 a.m. The session is titled Contractor to Contractor: Technology Innovation Panel and features five contractors sharing their successes and challenges with implementing technology into sales and marketing, operations, back office, health and safety and recruiting. The panel participants include Steve Little, President of KPOST Roofing and Waterproofing; Ken Kelly, President of Kelly Roofing; Gregg Wallick, Best Roofing; Michelle Boykin, COO of Rackley Roofing; and Josey Parks, CEO of J Wales Enterprises.

The panel will be moderated by Heidi Ellsworth, Partner at RoofersCoffeeShop® and the topics to be discussed during the panel include:

  • Augmented reality – as it relates to the aging workforce, training, assessment and testing, mapping and location as well as leak detection
  • Robotics – using drone technology and understanding what rooftop robotics and equipment are available and in use on the roof
  • Technology that impacts operations – exploring solutions that address safety and injury prevention in addition to time-tracking technologies that are helping contractors be more efficient
  • Artificial intelligence and digital technology – examining how this technology can be used for prospecting, assessments, virtual selling and jobsite monitoring
  • Software stacks – understanding how to get all the different software that your business is using to work together and talk to each other
  • Future of technology in roofing – discussing what it will look like 5 or 10 years from now

These discussions are led by roofing contractors who are currently using these solutions in their business with the goal of helping other contractors understand the technologies and how they can implement these solutions in their own businesses.

Be sure to follow us on social media as we will be sharing updates on Facebook and Twitter during all the events!

Learn more about the International Roofing Expo.