It’s hard to imagine how we ever did business without the help of mobile phones and email. Online calendars, reports emailed prior to meetings and phone calls to catch up on project status are all things we take for granted every day in the roofing sector.

 

But for the millennials that will form the future workforce and customer base for the sector, that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The next generation of specifiers, contractors and customers have grown up on a diet of apps, gadgets and gaming systems. They are more at home with a touch screen than they are with a pen and can work intuitively with new programs to work their way round them in no time.

Sam Jones, National Applications Field Manager - Liquid Applied Membranes at Sika Liquid Plastics

So what can we do to ensure the roofing sector is an environment that is both ready to capture the interest of the next generation and able to capitalise on the opportunities for increased efficiency, quality and cost management that technology can bring.

At Sika, we’ve just launched an app designed specifically for our technical field technicians when they are out on site carrying out technical inspections on live projects. Their physical presence and expertise on site is a vital element in our quality assurance but the app is part of our recognition that technology enables us to streamline that process for the benefit of our own operations, but more importantly the customer.

 

By enabling all information, images and actions to be uploaded on a handheld device in real time, our new Site Inspection & Specification App allows reports to be automatically generated during a site visit so that they can be available to the client and any relevant consultants within minutes of a completed inspection. Our technical field technicians can also access previous reports on subsequent visits to cross reference data, images and programme information, ensuring transparency.

The same app can be used to support site audits and to aid technical specification. This speeds up the process and ensures that the field technician’s time can be used more effectively. Prior to the app around three site inspections could be carried out per day and following the inspection the field technician would have to fill in various paperwork to complete the process. With the use of the app around double the amount of work can be completed, allowing around five or six site inspections to be carried out per day depending and location. This allows site technicians to focus on supporting the onsite contractors with new product applications, complex details or general queries and really makes the best use of their time to ensure the client gets the best and most cost effective service possible.

 

In a commercial context, apps and mobile devices are all about using technology intelligently to help us streamline what we already do well. For the roofing contractor, there will never be a technological equivalent to the skills needed on site but there are ways in which technology can underpin high quality project specification and delivery and ensure effective communication between delivery partners to improve processes and efficiency.