Engineered for safety

Nations Roof® helps modernize the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis

  • While working in one confined, fully enclosed roof area, employees wore monitors to routinely check air quality.
  • A newly completed roof system
  • Delivery trucks could not drive on driveways that had pavers, so material was loaded onto lower roof sections and moved via crane to roof areas when needed.
  • New TPO membrane replaced most roof areas that had existing EPDM membrane.
  • The Nations Roof crew

Rolls-Royce is a world leader of integrated power and propulsion solutions. Its systems are used in aerospace, marine, energy and off-highway applications. The company designs, develops, manufactures and tests products from jet engines for the Department of Defense to commercial aerospace markets. According to its website, the company’s U.S. operations support 52,000 jobs and contribute more than $8.6 billion to the U.S. economy.

Rolls-Royce recently invested more than $1 billion to upgrade its facilities, including the Indianapolis location where more Rolls-Royce products are built than anywhere in the world. About 4,000 employees work in Indianapolis in manufacturing, assembly, testing, engineering and administrative roles. Rolls-Royce Indianapolis businesses include Defense, LibertyWorks,™ Civil Small and Medium Engines, Marine and Helicopters.

The Indianapolis campus is in the middle of a five-year, $600 million renovation to modernize facilities and upgrade technology. During 2017-18, Nations Roof, Villa Park, Ill., completed reroofing and metal work on 16 roof sections throughout the campus.


Before being awarded the project, Nations Roof employees worked with the project’s roof consultant, RRK Associates Ltd., Gurnee, Ill., visited the site, and visually inspected and measured all roof areas.

“Three of the sections were inaccessible via roof hatch or ladder,” says Doug Duncan, president of Nations Roof. “Our inspector and workers needed to use aerial lifts to access these roof sections. Core cuts were performed on each section along with measurements and details to provide a competitive bid to the client.”

The Nations Roof team understands preplanning is critical for safety, quality and production.

“One thing that set Nations Roof apart from average roofing contractors is its involvement of employees in the preplanning process, the execution of the plans, and the ability to adapt and change the plans as the project evolves,” says James Meegan, CSP, CHST, field safety consultant for Safety Check Inc., Minooka, Ill. “Employees at all levels of the organization perform hazard analyses prior to the start of a project and continue throughout its completion. All employees participate and are empowered to voice their concerns.”

After Nations Roof received the Rolls-Royce contract, its first challenge for the 74,000-square-foot project was getting workers cleared through a rigorous security process. Because of Rolls-Royce’s high-security clearances required to work on the project, every employee had to be a U.S. citizen and show different forms of identification such as a photo ID, birth certificate and U.S. passport. If a worker did not have the required forms of identification, he or she was denied access to the job site. Extensive applications were filled out and reviewed, followed by interviews with Department of Homeland Security agency officials.

“It took several weeks to more than a month to gain clearance,” Duncan says. “Once we were cleared to access the site, the next challenge was logistics.”


In August 2017, Nations Roof began loading materials for the project. Located in downtown Indianapolis, the site was in the middle of a high-traffic area. On roofing material delivery days, Rolls-Royce deliveries were redirected to the back of the building so materials could be delivered to the front. However, the entrance driveways have pavers that delivery trucks cannot drive on, and material could not be stored on the ground. As a result, material was loaded onto lower roof sections or adjacent parking lots and moved via crane to roof areas when needed.

Additionally, the site is next to Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play. On Sundays, Rolls-Royce rents its parking facility to football game attendees. Each Saturday before a home game, the roofing materials stored in the parking garages had to be removed, and no work could be performed on the garage roof areas during games.


As part of the contract, Nations Roof provided subcontractors to perform extensive work to steel supports and grating for all rooftop equipment. Before Nations Roof employees could begin roofing work, the existing steel grating had to be removed. The grating was on steel supports 2 feet off the roof surface and served as a platform for large air-intake units. The utility lines for these units were attached to the underside.

The crew then began the tear-off process. Most roof sections had existing EPDM membrane with flat and tapered insulation systems on metal and concrete decks.

“The most sensitive roof section was the south building, which required a full tear-off of 16 inches of polyisocyanurate insulation at the highest point down to the concrete deck,” Duncan says. “There was little room to maneuver with the amount of equipment installed on this roof. Because of a lack of accessibility on the ground and roof, each day the tear-off materials had to be removed via crane to the ground, and no crane pick was to exceed 500 pounds per load. This dramatically increased our load times throughout the project.”

On the roof areas with metal decks, Nations Roof workers mechanically attached Johns Manville 60-mil-thick TPO membrane using Johns Manville’s RhinoPlate System. The south tower with a concrete deck received Johns Manville self-adhering 60-mil-thick TPO membrane with fully adhered, tapered polyisocyanurate insulation.

“The Johns Manville SA TPO sheet was the first of its type installed in the U.S.,” Duncan says.


On roof sections without a parapet wall taller than 42 inches, TurboRail™ was used for perimeter fall protection. TurboRail was temporarily fastened to the outside wall and left in place throughout the project’s duration. For skylight openings, nets were used as fall protection.

When working on the breezeway roof area directly over a street, road closure permits were acquired, and traffic monitors were present. For one roof section that was fully enclosed and had minimal ventilation, the crew of four workers followed confined-space procedures. Employees wore monitors that routinely checked air quality, and each employee logged the results hourly.

The Rolls-Royce site also has its own set of unique fall-protection rules.

“On any ladder over 4 feet, employees were to be harnessed and tied-off,” Duncan explains. “We were able to eliminate the use of ladders on the site with aerial lifts and stair towers.”

Although Nations Roof workers had to adhere to numerous, strict guidelines, the crew executed its work flawlessly.

“The roof system replacement project entailed the highest levels of safety preparations, as well as precise crane staging and loading plans so as to not interrupt the tenant’s operations and successfully navigate the tight access areas for rooftop loading of equipment and materials,” says Bryan Frarey, senior vice president, construction operations, for Phoenix-based Vereit® Inc., the facility owner. “There was no room for error, and the tenant’s concerns from some prior experiences quickly turned to reinforced confidence after the tenant consulted with Nations Roof’s project manager, [Neff Ortiz, director of risk management for Nations Roof], and the needs were incorporated into the plan.”

Adding to the challenges, when working on the lower roof areas, Nations Roof workers were in constant view of the Rolls-Royce safety team that has offices in the Indianapolis facility.

“Their noses were pressed against their windows on a daily basis watching our crew,” Duncan says.

Nations Roof’s dedication to safety was praised by Rolls-Royce safety team members.

One member, Joe Kite, Rolls-Royce facility manager, sent the following email to Nations Roof during the project: “Since your team made its first footprint on our site, it has been a pleasure to work with every one of you. The presence of safety has far exceeded my expectations. Your team has communicated well ... your crew has been extremely cordial and respectful to each of our customers when approached. Please keep up the great, safe work. It is well noticed and extremely appreciated. Great job!”

Precisely performed

After the new roof systems were installed, the steel grating and supports were reinstalled. The existing cell tower equipment temporarily relocated to a different roof section also was reinstalled. In addition, the lightning protection system on all roof areas was reinstalled and tested, and walkway pads were added.

Despite numerous logistical and safety challenges, Nations Roof completed its work on the Rolls-Royce Indianapolis facility in February 2018, three weeks before the anticipated completion date.

“Our crew was under intense pressure to complete the project, and it hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning with this project,” Duncan says. “Not only did we complete the project with zero safety infractions, the Rolls-Royce safety director praised our people and in fact incorporated a lot of our safety program into their program. Our crew members were highly praised throughout this project by some of the most professional and knowledgeable safety people in the country.”

For demonstrating exceptional workmanship on the Rolls-Royce facility, Nations Roof received a 2019 Gold Circle Award from the Roofing Alliance for safety preparedness and performance.

Chrystine Elle Hanus is Professional Roofing's associate editor and NRCA's director of communications.

Project name: Rolls-Royce facility
Project location: Indianapolis
Project duration: Aug. 17, 2017–Feb. 8, 2018
Roof system type: TPO membrane
Roofing contractor: Nations Roof,® Villa Park, Ill.
Roofing manufacturer: Johns Manville Roofing Systems, Denver



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