Most of the major metal panel manufacturers have added insulated panels and photo-voltaic cells to their product range over recent months – almost a mad rush to keep up with each other. Such additions to their respective product line-ups have particular challenges as regards technical support and customer education, let alone getting in-house staff up-to-scratch on these new technologies. Most will also be discovering that their estimating and quoting systems are not capable of handling the new requirements that such products need to ensure that they are correctly specified and ordered.
At the AppliCad Roofing Applications Development Centre, the team is already thinking about the next challenge. Indeed, in its history, the AppliCad RADC has been the first to release many new innovations for roofing and cladding estimating – first with roofing applications for the PocketPC (released over 10 years ago); automated metal cutting lists (released 18 years ago); optimising roof panel off-cuts to reduce waste (released 10 years ago); automated custom trim workshop details (released 13 years ago); automated tile coursing for estimating tiles and reducing waste (released 15 years ago); automated roof modelling tools (released 19 years ago) – the list goes on and includes recent innovations such as the rainfall harvesting calculator; on-screen digitising (released 18 years ago) that has resulted in estimating from satellite image services such as Google Earth and Pictometry.
More recently, the AppliCad RADC has released tools to assist designers optimise the placement of solar panels. Smart tools that place the panels on the roof model and automatically quantify all the accessory items for the installation of the panels, plus the remainder of the roof and roof trim. A complete roofing package quotation – perfect!
The latest to come from the team at the RADC is a software tool kit for exploring the optimum placement of panels taking account of other roof fixtures such as vents, HVAC units and chimney stacks. If these items cast a shadow over the panels, even for just a few hours each day, then the total effective efficiency of the installation may be significantly compromised.
All the latest AppliCad applications have a shadow analysis tool included as a standard feature. Now a roofer can make informed decisions about the correct placement of all roof hardware and include the solar panels in the process. Simply orient the building relative to true North (or South if you’re in the northern hemisphere), set the time and date and the latitude and longitude of the structure and the software does the rest. A series of ‘sun studies’ may be completed thus to demonstrate the best and worst case scenario.
These same tools may be used to explore the potential for ice dams and snow loads for any winter conditions in a similar way. A sequence showing the range of shadows across a structure may also be saved as a movie file for later review.
Whether the roof and associated structures are residential or commercial, the AppliCad tools still apply. Further, when calculating the cutting lists for insulated panels using the most accurate methods, additional features of the panel must be considered – end lap and side lap for instance. The AppliCad software has these considerations already built in so that the cutting list is as precise as the roof model.
For more details of innovations from the AppliCad team, visit their web site – www.applicad.com.