Our working environment on and off site has changed dramatically since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Below, Victoria Ramwell, of cold-applied liquid waterproofing manufacturer Kemper System, explains some strategies to help us adapt.
Problem solving on site at the best of times can be tricky. If a contractor needs advice on a particular issue about the roof at any stage of the project, technical teams from the roofing manufacturer should be on-hand to help trouble-shoot. This can be prior, during or post installation of the roofing system.
Yet, when faced with a global pandemic we’re presented with a multitude of challenges. Access is restricted, social distancing rules and travel restrictions can all prohibit technical personnel attending site. This can potentially delay the project or in a worst-case scenario, set up a roofing system to fail if problems have not been addressed and resolved.
When budgets are tighter than ever and time on site is restricted, many manufacturers and contractors have had to adapt during the pandemic to ensure projects finish on time and without any issues.
Off site, we have all turned to technology to communicate using virtual conference calls rather than face-to-face meetings. And this is something that has been seen to work on site, too.
Digital problem solving
New digital tools have been rolled out across the sector to help boost productivity for contractors and specifiers across the UK.
This technology can use real-time video to make problem solving on a roof quicker and more efficient. For example, the sort of software which Kemper System has utilised is a digital tool called tele-LOOK, which enables survey and specification reports to be generated within hours, instead of days.
The software allows members of the technical team access to the camera on a customer’s smartphone, providing a real-time view of the area to be refurbished. Both parties can continue to speak to each other, so immediate waterproofing advice and support can be given and if required, photos and notes can also be generated to assist with reporting.
One of the biggest benefits of this kind of technology is the time saving. If a contractor is on a roof and needs some advice about a particular issue, such as waterproofing a complex detail, you can offer that instantly ensuring no delays to the project.
Similarly, if a specifier needs a report for a project that is located hundreds of miles away from the manufacturer’s office, they no longer have to wait for someone to travel there – if travel is even possible during local and national restrictions.
Manufacturers can simply launch the tool, review the site, and create a report on the same day they request help. No matter where contractors are located, a solution like this can save a significant amount of time, boosting efficiencies and ensuring seamless projects, surveys and specifications.
During the national lockdown in March when many construction sites still remained operational, the Merton Hotel in Jersey undertook some essential maintenance work whilst the hotel was closed to many guests. This included the refurbishment of the outdoor balconies from hotel rooms using Kemper System’s AC Speed PMMA solution.
Because of travel restrictions across the UK, members of the technical team at Kemper System were unable to go to Jersey to inspect the works as the project got underway. Instead, the team used the tele-LOOK technology to regularly speak with the contractors on site through every stage of the process.
This included pre-installation support right through to signing-off the finished balcony areas. The technical team at Kemper System were able to see the product being installed as it happened, and advise contractors every step of the way.
The advantage of such technology meant any potential issues were dealt with immediately, and the end client had a sound waterproofing system installed without any delays to the project.
Tele-LOOK has already been used successfully by Kemper System in Germany, and has now been rolled out nationally in the UK.
Plan for change
As we enter some uncertain times for our sector, it’s more important than ever to reassess working practices and adapt accordingly as our way of life continues to change throughout the pandemic.
Safer and more efficient ways of working during these trying times will be at the forefront of any business, and it’s important to keep abreast of the customer’s needs to ensure mistakes aren’t being made and projects can complete on time, to specification and within budget.