Successful Roof Management Starts with an Aerial Infrared Scan

RAM USA is a roof and building envelope consultant that provides the industry’s fastest, most accurate, cost-effective way to pinpoint moisture.

It can be hard to manage a lot of roofs from a facility management standpoint when you have so much happening around facilities. With so much happening around facilities, roofs often aren’t considered a problem until leaks or serious problems appear. Even diligent facility managers must keep up with roofs being divided into many sections with varying installation dates, contractors, and material manufacturers. As a full-service roof and building envelope consultant, RAM USA has developed tools and solutions to help manage roof assets. We can help you keep track of your roofs and manage your portfolio more efficiently and effectively.

RAM’s proprietary aerial infrared inspection process is an industry-specific solution that can help any company start from scratch or complement existing plans. RAM USA’s aerial infrared moisture scans can help manage roof assets by providing the fastest, most accurate, and most cost-effective way to pinpoint moisture.

People knowledgeable about infrared technology on roofs know that the IR camera can tell what moisture is inside the roofing material at night. This moisture absorbs heat during daylight hours and retains it much longer than the dry materials around it at night. The temperature difference lets us see suspect areas easily, especially since RAM USA’s IR cameras can detect temperatures down to hundredths of a degree. Additionally, our cameras on fixed-wing planes offer some amazing advantages, primarily based on speed.

“Infrared cameras are so fast that we can take thousands of frames per second in high resolution, even from an airplane,” says Joe Cobb, VP of Operations at RAM USA. “Aerial inspections are typically less expensive, safer, and more accurate than traditional IR walk-over inspections, and they cover every square inch of each roof being scanned for a more comprehensive analysis.”

Like universities, areas with buildings close to each other can often be scanned in a single night. A task like this could take a team of experienced inspectors weeks or even months to complete. By flying over the area, rather than walking up on roofs in the dark, the risk of “walk-over” inspections is greatly reduced. This provides much more scheduling flexibility and the ability to see the entire area in one go.

After collecting both visual (daytime) and infrared images, the key is in the processing and analysis of the photos. Our team, with 25 years of experience, uses infrared thermography to see if thermal anomalies are moisture. Then, a “blended” image is created by merging the data from the visual and infrared images. This allows us to detect potential hotspots that may require further investigation.


This image depicts the severity of any moisture detected and potential problem areas that only meet some criteria to be considered moisture. RAM USA’s blended photos serve as a guide to begin to prioritize which roofs need the most attention. They are basically a roadmap for semi-annual visual roof inspections that can point the technician to the areas needing further investigation. This is the starting point for a comprehensive roof asset management program.


Success Stories

The complex, interwoven checks and balances of their current roof management programs were necessary for a large government client with hundreds of buildings. RAM USA’s expertise was called upon to complement their program of roof re-covers and replacements based on each roof’s age. RAM USA scanned 49 buildings with infrared cameras and found that only 15% needed to be recovered or replaced. Most of their roofs could be maintained in water-tight conditions through maintenance, repair and restoration, resulting in millions of dollars in savings!

A sizeable midwestern healthcare system with 14 hospital campuses and 100+ buildings was growing tired of reactionary and costly roofing programs. One of their projects was a $600,000 roof section replacement at a 180,000 sq. ft. facility. This roof section had been posing some problems, and replacement was determined by the roof manufacturer’s age-based recommendations. RAM USA’s initial aerial infrared inspection and visual roof survey found that only 20% of the roof’s insulation had moisture. They decided not to replace it since it was optional. However, the aerial infrared scan revealed that a different roof section had severe moisture damage, and their original funds were redirected to that project.

A midwest realty group was preparing two buildings for sale. Ensuring their roofs were in good condition and water-tight was a top priority. They went so far as to commission a walk-over infrared survey, but it was performed by an inexperienced tech that lacked roofing experience. His faulty analysis led a contractor to state that both buildings’ roofs needed to be replaced at $1,400,000. Before making such a significant capital expenditure, the client called upon RAM USA’s consulting expertise, and our initial action was an aerial infrared inspection.

After analyzing the data, it was found that neither roof was past its useful life and didn’t need to be replaced. Instead, RAM USA recommended restoration on the 6 sections of the roof that had significant damage at a much lower cost. By utilizing less than 1% of the original proposed replacement cost to pay for RAM USA’s inspection services, their total expenditure could be reduced by 57%.

A leading consumer products company requested an aerial infrared inspection to check the condition of its roofs at one of its campuses. RAM USA performed a diagnostic aerial infrared scan on all 20 of their buildings. Analysis revealed areas of wet insulation in a roof system that the client was set to re-roof at roughly $500,000. A contractor said the roof should be replaced/re-roofed because it was old. A previous nuclear scan said the roof insulation was dry.

After the aerial inspection team had completed their work, RAM USA followed up with a comprehensive visual survey and core analysis. The team determined that much of the facility was still in excellent condition, saving the client $450,000. The solution was to extend the facility’s life by 5–10 years for 10% less cost. This saved the client even more money in the long run while also ensuring the safety of employees and the integrity of the facility.

The central Ohio school district was looking to develop a plan to manage its relatively new roofs and understand the actual condition of its roofs. As a result, RAM USA began implementing a comprehensive condition-based roof asset management program starting with aerial infrared roof scans. Next, RAM USA’s Registered Roof Consultants (RRCs) performed visual roof surveys on each roof. The information collected by the scans and surveys was analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive report.

The report provided a comprehensive set of objective options, recommendations, and budgets outlining necessary maintenance, repair, and replacement actions, for the next 5 years. The program included a 5-year maintenance contract, under which RAM USA management would be in charge of roof maintenance and survey the roofs every year to ensure they are in good repair and healthy.

In Summary

Targeted aerial infrared roof scans are safe, proactive, cost-effective, efficient and an excellent first step in understanding your portfolio of roofs. RAM USA’s scans find even the most minor issues and allow them to be remedied before they become significant problems. Being proactive and taking action now can save you a lot of headaches, money and potential damage in the future.

“Our experience has shown that you could fix 6 potential leaks at the same cost as 1 emergency leak,” says Jeff Cacioppo, President of RAM USA.

Also, aerial infrared scans are the most cost-effective way to check your roof for assets. They are the quickest and most accurate way to prioritize which roofs need the most attention and resources.

We start with a comprehensive visual roof survey by Registered Roof Consultants after an infrared inspection to provide an overview of the roof. Data analysis from scans and surveys provides recommendations, budgets, maintenance, repair and replacement options for the next 5 years. This report can be viewed through our web-based management tool, RAM Command, which offers many ways to drill down and sort the findings. Conventional, bound hard copies are also available if they are preferred. RAM USA recommends roof asset management programs to anyone with the vital task of managing roofs.

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