Roof Reduction: How Pre-fabricated Hinged Target Sumps Help Skilled Labor Shortage

Attached is a blog post we submitted to Roofing Contractor Magazine - it ran June 26, 2020
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It’s no secret that the United States is facing an unprecedented skilled labor shortage. Recent statistics show that for every five people leaving the construction field, only one enters it. Compounding the problem is the fact that the average age of skilled construction workers is currently over 50 years old.

With the skilled labor gap set to widen and an increasingly uncertain economic climate poised to have deleterious effects on construction timetables, it’s growing more important than ever to simplify installation. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the roof, where creating proper slope and drainage systems to combat water buildup can prove time and labor-intensive. While there is no silver bullet to fix this problem, new materials can help streamline the roofing installation process and maximize readily-available workers. One such product is pre-fabricated hinged target sumps.

Bridging the Gap

In flat or low-sloped applications, roof sumps increase the slope around drains to ensure water will flow to the drain instead of ponding. To create these special drainage systems, crews typically measure, cut, and lay individual boards into place. They must also match angles and slopes to ensure water properly drains to a center point. While this onsite fabrication process is effective, it requires extensive field work; a burdensome task for teams facing an already shallow labor pool.

Pre-fabricated hinged target sumps can help offset these labor demands. These polyisocyanurate (polyiso) boards are pre-cut and assembled in the factory and arrive onsite ready for use. They install much faster than cutting insulation on the jobsite and, because they are made to order, require no matching of angles or slopes.

When using pre-fabricated hinged target sumps, workers simply receive the product at the construction site, lift it to the roof, unfold it and lay it into place. Once the “target” is aligned with the drain, workers then cut the drain hole on the appropriate markings. Depending on the application, installation can take less than five minutes.

By making installation faster and easier, pre-fabricated hinged target sumps reduce the collective labor load. They also allow contractors to accommodate tight time frames, further reducing unnecessary expenses onsite.

Reducing Mistakes

Contractors know that rework from installation mistakes can lead to cost overruns. Hinged target sump boards were designed to help solve this dilemma on the roof. According to Jim Gostiaux, a Hunter Panels sales representative who is frequently interfacing with those in the field using hinged target sumps: “The design community including architects, consultants, and engineers see the benefit of the hinged target sumps product through the elimination of mistakes in the field. Roofers, regardless of their experience, can install this product. This allows crew leaders and foremen to focus on other tasks to get the roof system completed on time.”

In addition, pre-fabricated hinged target sump roofing products are made to order from the factory with as few as eight pieces, further helping workers avoid mistakes during the roofing installation process. Some manufacturers offer the sump boards with consistent 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch slope configurations, allowing for a gradual slope into the roof drain, mitigating the unnecessary stress often placed on the plumbing component below the roof deck.

Eliminating Waste and Saving Time

One often overlooked culprit when it comes to labor is waste. Over the course of a roof installation, hinged target sump products are proven to eliminate the amount of expensive waste going to a dumpster and landfill. By reducing the amount of waste created on the roof, extra project costs are more easily controlled.

The normal process for field fabrication involves a worker getting up onto a roof, cutting a large piece of material and then only using half of the material they cut. Think of the amount of time saved by canceling out this extra step. With limited labor available, sending a worker away to complete this task cuts down on other work they could be doing on the construction site.  

Simplifying for the Future 

As Benjamin Franklin’s famed saying goes, “Remember, time is money.” When it comes to roof installation and the current skilled labor shortage, the same rule applies. By using new and innovative materials that install easily and with minimal waste, contractors can get workers off the roof as quickly as possible, improving overall profitability.

Photos and blog provided by Hunter Panels.

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