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Did the title of this blog article catch your attention? It might have because you may be offended, mad, angry, happy, excited, or have a combination of those feelings. These views are my views of the industry that we all love and enjoy working in. The premise of this post is to engage and empower you to defend the industry that is lacking innovation, so much that I believe it has become stagnant. Some of you are probably picking up your phone now to call me and provide me with explanations, well no need to, but I will gladly always take your call here.
In terms of innovation, where is it? Innovation’s meaning is a new idea, method, device, or the introduction of something new. The products I see are the same as they have been for the past 25 years. Some of them have been enhanced or modified to address certain problems that have arisen but has anything been a real game changer? A game changer is something substantial that really changes how we live as a society, think email for example. Before email we relied on phones in our office and snail mail, now we can send messages to each other in a flash. So has there been anything in the past 25 years in metal construction that has had the same effect? Please do suggest something in the comments below, I would love to hear how some product became a game changer in the industry.
Next let’s discuss how the industry is stagnant. The definition of stagnant is characterized by lack of development,advancement, or progressive movement. How many of you are upset now? I hope all of you, because your industry is at that point, consider what other industries are doing. A quick example would be someone like Western Digital who for many years had a strong market share in external data storage. Remember those days of buying a server for your business, or a small 1 GB hard drive that you could attach to your computer? Well, they still do that, but they’ve moved forward with providing cloud computing storage. That is precisely what I mean by advancement, development, and movement. The metal construction industry not so much, prove to me where and I will gladly write a blog post about why I was wrong.
So I’m going to wait on some of you to comment and even email me directly about my opinion, because I want to hear if I am wrong. I know some will say solar has changed metal roofing right? So what solar and photovoltaic cells were around in the 1980’s, just like the application of electric vehicles was done in the late 1800’s. As I stated before prove me wrong and I will gladly admit it. Now I’ll stop and wait for all of you to defend your industry, truthfully, I believe many of you are the like the industry, stagnant and lacking innovation. Have you ever heard of graphene? No! Right, you are just proving my point. The challenge has been laid down, go ahead.

5 Comments

  1. This is an interesting article, it makes you think. For some time the industry has been slow to pick up innovative momentum, but with the help of technology I believe this will all change. I recently wrote a blog post on how technology is changing the construction industry, which you can find here: http://xperiencedynamics.com/blog/12/the-changing-face-of-an-industry/
    Inventions, innovation and growth is on the way… we just have to encourage adoption and ensure we have the right people in positions that matter, so that they can implement new technology and strategies easily.

  2. This is the most ridiculous post and statement I have ever seen in my life. (Is that what you wanted to hear — I hope so!) I would challenge anyone to find any area of the building envelope that has consistently been more innovative and better at pushing the envelope than metal has been over the last 30 years, and continuing today!
    It doesn’t take one to look very far to see metal leading the way in so many areas including but not limited to:
    1) Research and development of assemblies that make the building envelope more energy efficient, more conducive to healthy buildings, and longer lasting.
    2) Development of coatings and finishes that are longer lasting and also more decorative and beautiful.
    3) Continued industry-leading efforts at educating our many publics and developing our many markets.
    4) Development of fabrication methods that are more efficient and lasting.
    5) Partnering with the design community to create buildings are are absolutely stunning in their creative beauty.
    6) Development of metals and alloys that offer greater flexibility to our industry’s products.
    The fact is, our industry is so very broad that sometimes we don’t see the trees for the forest! One trip to Metalcon which, for most folks becomes a repeated event, will prove to anyone that the metal construction industry is innovative, creative, and changing. All for the betterment of how we construct our buildings.

  3. You got my attention! In many ways, I agree with you, particularly the way metal roofing is done in the US. I have travelled very widely all over the world and have been a keen observer of roofing techniques and processes for over 25 years. I have observed so many ways that metal roofing and cladding may be applied and instead of being a premium priced option to roofing, it could easily be the default and most cost effective solution. It is this way in many parts of the world, even where you would imagine that the economic status of those building the structures using metal would be seeking even cheaper solutions. I have written several articles on this topic over the years, but who wants to be lectured to by an Aussie software guy?
    You are correct in so far as the metal roofing industry in the US has made metal roofing very complicated [read”expensive”] when it could be a lot easier [read “cheaper”]. This works against you.
    For our part, my company Applicad Software, has developed some of the most innovative tools a roofing company involved in metal can invest in. Tools that are specifically designed for automating the material take-off, costing and ordering process for metal roofing and cladding.
    Our innovative tools improve accuracy, efficiency and profitability. We have been promoting them as hard as we can for over 20 years (18 years at Metalcon?) and I still feel that we’re flogging a dead horse in North America. After all those years I get very frustrated. There seems to me to be a general reluctance to implement new tools and to invest in the appropriate training. If I was to generalize, and this may offend people too, but close enough seems good enough a lot of the time.
    In my opinion, there is a desperate need for vocational training in North America and some individuals or an industry body has to step up here. As we all know, you can’t take a garden variety shingle roofing guy, hand him a set of snips and make him a metal roofer.
    You may not be aware, but in Australia and New Zealand, where metal cladding comprises as much as 65% of residential roofing and 95+% of commercial roofing (it does vary slightly in different regions), installers must be trained, qualified and registered roof plumbers. They receive training in installation techniques that ensure that a metal roof is the best roof it can be and installed in the most efficient way. Techniques are taught that save waste and improve efficiency. Our software tools support these onsite processes where a roofer might save as much as the initial investment in software on a single job.
    Metal roofing is king in Australia and NZ and I would like to think that during the past 25 years AppliCad Roof Wizard software has played an important part in making this happen.
    AppliCad brings the smartest software tools to metal roofing and cladding – Automated 3D modelling, automatic generation of panel cutting lists, automatic generation of cut lists for trim and flashing, automatic generation of client proposals and supplier orders, automatic roof panel waste reduction and cut to length trim calculation, detailed costing of materials and labor based on how the stuff is installed, not a broad brush guess. We can even send the cut list details directly to your roll former! AppliCad is doing its bit that’s for sure.
    However, none of this clever stuff is any use unless users are appropriately trained and the systems fully implemented. Nor if you are prepared to put up with second rate results.
    I actually think that there is a heap of innovating going on, but the take-up is way too slow due to a general apathy towards training and a general reluctance to be trained. If you are not looking for a better way, then you will never find it.
    Not sure where you go from here, but yes, I think the discussion must be had. Good for you…

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