Buttressed by new home construction and storm-related damage repairs, U.S. roofing contractors are now in their fourth consecutive year of improved profitability and double-digit increases in sales, according to data from Sageworks, a financial information company. Sales among privately held roofing contractors have increased, on average, 14 percent in the 12 months ended May1. As companies continue to expand within their local markets, the demand for roofing technology to support advances in business management, sustainability, and material trends has increased alongside that growth.
Elevated Roofing is one of the pioneers that wants to lead the charge in bringing the roofing industry into the digital era. It has become one of the largest roofing companies in North Texas largely thanks to their focus on customer service and new technologies like drones and artificial intelligence. “We’re a customer-centric, digital company. We just happen to do terrific roofing,” says the Commercial Director at Elevated, James Honeycutt.
Roofers at Elevated are adopting drones to aid with roof analysis and measurements on residential and commercial projects.
Moving the Roofing Industry Forward
Elevated is committed to moving the industry forward, and they’re doing it by tackling two big challenges.
First, Elevated needs innovative technology partners that share their vision. Without the right tools, they’re stuck with a slow manual measurement process, and dangerous climbs up ladders, which cause 81 percent of construction worker ER injuries. “We’re always looking for business development opportunities that help us improve the entire industry. We need high quality partners to do it,” says James.
Second, James and his team must be able to demonstrate the viability of any new technology they use. Roofers typically inspect and measure roofs by hand because it allows them to closely analyze materials and damage while ensuring that measurements are accurate. As James explains, any new solution has to match or exceed the quality and accuracy of the traditional inspection process. “We raise the bar constantly. If we use something new and it’s not standard, we have to prove that it’s better,” he says.
Automated flight planning makes it simple for roofers to gather ultra-high-res imagery, measurements, and more.
Partners to Count On
James and Elevated initially adopted DJI drones to try new ways of gathering roof information. “Initially, drone technology was alluring because we could take photos,” he says. But Elevated had something bigger in mind—they were looking for ways to improve their bidding process from start to finish. “We started looking at what A.I. and machine learning could do for analyzing roof information,” he says.
That’s when Elevated saw a claims adjuster using Loveland Innovations’ drone-based analytics platform, IMGING®, to scan a home. The IMGING inspection kit leverages DJI’s Developer Technologies to add additional layers of functionality to a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone platform. DJI’s open software development kit (SDK) enables its drone platforms to integrate partner software designed for specific enterprise usage.
The IMGING Inspection kit uses an Apple iPad or iPhone for the IMGING app, and taps into the powerful cameras and obstacle avoidance sensors in a custom-skinned DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone.
After collecting dozens of images, IMGING lets Elevated view 3D models with highly accurate, facet specific measurements.
The real advantages for Elevated come from the drone-based data analysis tools which allow Elevated to detect roof damage such as hail hits. “We learned that we could use A.I. and deep learning systems to detect damage,” says James. IMGING is built with a sophisticated deep learning algorithm called IMGING Detect, which automatically identifies damage on drone-captured imagery.
Using damage detection and aerial imagery, Elevated saves time analyzing photos and gets a great way to share detailed damage information with their customers. “We have situations when adjusters come to check out a customer’s roof claim and don’t even get on the roof. They just review the inspection report and use it to close the claim,” says James.
Thanks to the cool-factor of DJI drones, they sometimes even get extra leads just from flying a job. “Residential customers tell their neighbors about their drone inspection because it’s cool and cutting edge, so we get more leads,” says James.
All told, drone-based intelligent inspection solution allows Elevated to improve inspection efficiency, amplify their approach to creating bids, and build more trust with their customers while they continue to bring roofing into the digital world.