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Tips for Professionals: Ames Roof Coating Products Chapters 1-7

Posted by Written by Tim Simpson, Quality Assurance and Quality Control Manager, Maintenance Coatings Inspector on 15th Jun 2020

How to Shift Production into “Ames Overdrive”- Chapter 1

Whether you are a Roofer or a Commercial Painting Contractor by Trade, here you are on your estimating program looking at your means and methods of applying a potential Roof Coatings System. Perhaps you have several competitors whom you met on a pre-bid walk with the client who, like you, would love to add this potential project to your jobs’ scheduling calendar for this roof maintenance season.

Or perhaps you have been invited by an existing institutional client to look at a 5-year plan on budgeting for their roof maintenance program using roof coatings to extend the life for a variety of roofing materials that exist on their various buildings.

Regardless, I can understand the balance you need to reach in what you decide to incorporate into your proposal. Outstanding performance and high quality are key values in the products to be applied. No contractor wants a roof system failure. Costly call-backs and warranty issues do not pay the overhead or the crew. You may be on Ames Research Labs’ website because you are already a user of our materials and recognize that our products have the performance and quality you wish to achieve. Or possibly, you’re looking for information within our available systems to be more competitive with your bid to win the project.

Other roof coatings manufacturers may offer a variety of grades within their roof coating materials designed to lower job costs and make you more competitive. The Ames Difference is that we offer a select set of products which are high-performance monolithic elastomeric seamless coating systems. Our products perform well consistently when properly applied. We do not compromise the integrity of our materials to cut costs and get you a job. We understand the pressure of a roofing contractor when the dreaded call comes in about a leaking roof that you installed. We think those spine ticklers are unnecessary and avoidable when Ames quality products are used.

So, now that I have mentioned something most of you are already familiar with regarding the selection of the best materials for the job, we can get down to some of the largest line-item costs on a roof system – those of planning & labor. How do we save on these costs? In my experience, there are a multitude of possibilities. Some pay their crews less to allow for a more robust crew size and some pay their crews more by rewarding for performance. Regardless of labor rates, the defining factor in controlling labor costs will always come back to performance. Performance is not just for crews. It comes from the top down and includes you and your off-site staff as well. So, how do we save labor costs through performance?

Tips for Professionals: Ames Roof Coating Products – Chapter 2

June 15, 2020

Mobilizing the Job – Setting the Stage for Production

As a contractor, whether you are the Owner, Estimator, Project Manager, or Job Foreman, you must hit the ground running. However, it may be challenging to begin production with momentum.

Start out with a reusable form style mobilization list. Every contractor should have one for each type of roof system they intend on installing; materials and handling, equipment, power tools, hand tools, roof safety equipment, roof access equipment, rigging, PPE – and the list goes on.

If you have the recommended checklist form with everything that will be utilized on the job already in-hand, it is simple to list quantities on your form and fully mobilize the job. This also identifies lead time ordering requirements, equipment that needs to be pulled off the shelf, and fired up to see if repairs are needed, and what equipment is now earmarked for this specific job and thus no longer available for others. This point in time is also a deadline for moving forward with plans for new equipment purchases, ordering wear parts for sprayers, etc.

Not having a spare pump or frequently used repair parts is a mistake when pre-planning and will result in lost time and money on the job. The downhill effect will delay jobs on other project schedules and will have you juggling assets in no time. Shifting crews from one job to another due to unnecessary shutdowns means that there will be complications on the mobilization. The monetary and scheduling loss is real and avoidable in many cases.

Tips for Professionals: Ames Roof Coating Products – Chapter 3

June 15, 2020

Maintain Sundries & Equipment Inventory

When roof project season comes near, it is important to pre-order long lead time items and rethink your existing equipment production capability and multi-project demands. You may have worked for years and built your business to the point where you have multiple crews mobilizing and performing multiple jobs simultaneously.

So, what happens when you do not have enough sprayers to go around? You compromise, send more of your crews over to one job, and lose the momentum you have in ultimate multiple-crew capacity. Do not be afraid to make critical equipment purchases that affect your crew’s ability to produce high production and high-quality results. It is preferred to have fewer trucks to deliver job trailers than not enough production equipment to keep jobs rolling once mobilized.

You can adjust the delivery timing of job trailers, but it is not helpful if you need a spray pump another crew is using. You can always lease or rent trucks and trailers, but high-production spray equipment is usually a special order and involves pre-planning.

Consider researching new equipment in the winter months and make final buy decisions as larger anchor project contracts are signed and my pending jobs’ board has substance.

Tips for Professionals: Ames Roof Coating Products – Chapter 4

June 15, 2020

Having a Productive Project Plan

Every roofing project is different, involving multiple steps that translate into days on the job.

Access and Egress to and from the roof will dictate where you start and end each shift to complete your daily tasks while still allowing crews to get on and off the roof. Planning this will also affect your ability to seamlessly spray out your roof’s intermediate and topcoats without leaving unfinished patches of areas as rooftop escape routes. A spray person should be able to actually back down and out to the roof exit point with the spray line tender removing the excess line from the roof while the spray person sprays the last areas before climbing down the ladder for the day.

By taking a few minutes to sketch out a roof plan or highlight a Google Earth Roof Closeup to show the best methods of working through each work process on the roof, you establish items you have already considered when inspecting and bidding the job in the minds of the crew. Showing the crew that the project has been carefully planned out will invite confidence in the job and compliance to the process.

In the process of mobilization and bringing in the Foreman or Supervisor, it is best to interact with them while preparing the workflow plan to obtain proper buy-in from the person who will be on the job managing production. Doing this makes it “their project” as well. And remember: trust, but verify as the project progresses.

Share your project plan with your client. You will take their worry level down a notch or two by demonstrating how much planning and care has gone into a successful and worry-free project. In the process, clarify what expectations you have involving things the owner will be providing to facilitate the progress of your work.

Tips for Professionals: Ames Roof Coating Products – Chapter 5

June 15, 2020

Cleaning the Roof Productively

Proper initial cleaning of your roof includes removing dirt, contaminants, and debris from existing roof surfaces. In the process of cleaning, you may also identify loose, failed areas of the roof that need additional cutting back, trimming and pre-system patchwork.

While cleaning the roof, your staff should also determine the best method of working around existing curbs, air handlers, chillers, and miscellaneous rooftop-mounted equipment. It is not unusual to see rooftop-mounted antennas, cell repeaters, DEQ air monitoring equipment, and wireless equipment telemetry now used for Building Systems Automated Management. All of these can be in your way.

With smaller heat pumps and air handlers, the equipment is frequently cribbed up on pieces of 4”x4” wood which then sits on top of existing roof systems. These may require temporarily installation of bridging cribbage beneath the equipment to allow for removal of the loose 4”x4” wood in order to properly install the new Ames Monolithic Seamless Reinforced Membrane Roof Coating System under the free-standing heat pumps. In some cases, the wood supports are embedded deeply into aged hot tar and cannot be temporarily removed to facilitate new system installation. When this happens the roofing membrane details should be carried around and completely over the embedded wood supports to monolithically seal the system under the free-standing equipment.

Other air handlers, rooftop mechanical equipment, and chillers may be sitting on permanently raised curbs that are then counter-flashed into equipment bases. These details are also flashed when Ames specified detail embedded flashing is recommended.

Regardless, after an initial cleaning of the roof exposing and temporarily removing mechanical supports will result in additional areas to wash along with further debris removal.

It is important to promptly clean up additional dirt and debris to avoid dragging it back all over the recently cleaned roof with safety ropes, cords, spray lines, windy conditions, and foot traffic. It’s less efficient to send someone for a broom to do additional cleanup when you have a full crew standing by with Spray equipment, fabric, back rollers and other items in hand being delayed by little messes all over the roof. Do not wait until the morning of your first “Spray Day” to re-clean your roof. It slows down crew efforts, pushes you into warmer portions of the day, and is generally unnecessary.

Tips for Professionals: Ames Roof Coating Products – Chapter 6

June 15, 2020

Safety

Most contractors have a mix of field personnel made up of young individuals entering the industry and older guard experienced journeymen who have handled roofing projects for many years. Sometimes the older experienced journeymen take new employees under their wing, and sometimes not.

It is vital to be familiar with the crew and how to effectively apply your safety program with both the older and newer recruits to keep everyone safe and maximize production while doing so as safety is not a trade secret.

Identify site-specific safety protocols for the upcoming roof project mobilization, know OSHA Regulations, have the proper equipment available, and present to the crew how this specific roof project will be completed while placing and using safety equipment.

A crew that feels safe can more productively concentrate on their work performance.

Safety equipment can be in the way when moving around on the roof project and applying roof coating materials. Just as you make a plan for how to travel across the roof with access and egress to and from the roof in mind, you also need to plan for how to connect and move safety ropes in use to avoid disruption to the orderly flow of work performance. This affects where you install roof tie-offs if not already available on the roof.

Safety can also be a profit-generating item for your company. Smart contractors will offer to permanently install tie-offs for their Facility Owners while completing roof projects so other trades can more safely navigate the roofs while maintaining roof-mounted equipment. I do not know of many Facility Owners and Managers who will decline to improve their Plant or Facility Safety Program. It might as well be you making the money for installing the safety enhancements!

Also consider selling your customer on installing safety walkway corridors in an accent color on the roofs for use by other trades and enhanced protection of the new Ames Monolithic Reinforced Seamless Membrane Roof System you are installing. Price these items separately on your proposal if you want but do show your prospective customer you are thinking of them in a holistic way during your sales presentation.

Tips for Professionals: Ames Roof Coating Products – Chapter 7

June 15, 2020

Quality Control

Quality is created through managing every facet of the project beginning with proper mobilization, a written plan, a site-specific safety checklist, product data and safety data sheets onsite, and how you react to physical realities of the job site conditions as you apply the various Ames Products.

Every Plan A requires a Plan B, which is how you react to always-changing job site conditions and achieve your desired results despite the changes.

Completing a successful roof system project is not a time to let crew members learn from their mistakes. By paying close attention to each part of the roof system process, you can teach new crew and redirect established crew to properly apply all materials using methods that will become second nature over time.

Allowing a crew member to apply Ames Poly-Bridge mesh onto a skinned over stripe coat down a seam is a mistake made in supervision. Catching the problem at the beginning and adjusting the process increases production and quality.

Supervisors do not look over the shoulders of their crew to catch them failing but to help them succeed.

By measuring how crews are improving during a project you are acknowledging their learning and improving their sense of self-worth. This also increases production and quality. I frequently remind my crews that I am always receptive to what they think about an application or process. Reward people for their good ideas that improve quality and production at the same time. Money can go a long way, but positive reinforcement sometimes goes much further.

By creating a project manual with the job planning and data information components available onsite each morning, it is easier to open the job manual for a quick safety meeting, discussion of the plan for the day, review of the work plan site map, etc.

In the process, this will reset everyone’s attitude to a safe and productive mode while taking the opportunity to discuss how to maintain quality and maintain or improve productivity. Quality is a state of mind.