One major manufacturer has a grand plan for solving the problem of mismatched roofing shingles on the jobsite—and preventing purchasing backlash in the form of returned materials or unhappy clients.

Every so often, says Chuck Stein, vice president and general manager of Owens Corning's HOMExperts program, a purchase order goes awry. A roofer looks up at his half finished work, only to discover he has nailed down two different shades of green shingles. Of course, the pallets are labeled, and the batch number is coded, but a mistake could happen at the distribution point, or even in the unloading of the truck at two different jobsites.

“What we're looking at is a bar-code system for every pallet,” says Stein. “That way you can track that batch all the way back to the manufacturer, as well as the distributor, so everybody knows it's going to the right place.” Stein adds that the builder shouldn't have to worry about getting the right materials. He (or his superintendent) should be able to just sign off when the order arrives. But the key people, from the distributor to the truck driver, would have a reliable way to make sure the builder gets the right stuff at the right time and place.