Engineers working on the Waikato’s largest ever roading project need to ensure the new Hamilton Expressway meets the highest standards.

The CityEdge Alliance, comprising Fletcher, Higgins, Beca, Coffey, Hick Bros and the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, is building the 22km four-lane Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway. The alliance had thousands of reports in its project information management system that produced a spreadsheet containing all of the test data. But there was no quick and easy way to find specific data.

“We have to do a lot of testing to verify what we are doing is correct,” said CityEdge Alliance manufacturing engineer James Higgins. “We do tens of thousands of tests.”

The process to analyse the many test reports for a stretch of road was manual or required engineers to create their own analytics tool.

“The manual process meant it was much more difficult to at a glance ensure that all relevant testing was being looked at,” said James. “There was no efficient way to visually represent the spread of testing along a stretch of the project, for example, with a graph showing the location of where a test was completed.”

Higgins, with CityEdge Alliance system and process manager Vicky Wells, turned to award-winning New Zealand Agile software development specialist Company-X to help solve their problem.

Company-X co-founders and directors David Hallett and Jeremy Hughes, with professional services manager Michael Hamid, helped Higgins and Wells explore the problem in April 2018. They looked to Company-X solutions architect Luke McGregor to design and develop the software.

“I was looking for a local software company to help. Company-X had previous experience in road construction so were familiar with much of the terminology,” Wells said.

Agile software development keeps project on right road
INNOVATIVE: Company-X software architect Luke McGregor came up with innovative ways to solve the requirements challenges CityEdge Alliance presented to him.

Company-X used Agile software development expertise to develop the innovation award-winning One Network Road Classification Performance Measures Reporting Tool for Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency. The building of the Performance Measures Reporting Tool led to the creation of the world’s first national roading database.

”When James spoke to Jeremy, David, Michael and Luke and mentioned pavement he didn’t have to explain that he meant road construction not footpaths,” Wells said.

“We did some rapid prototyping and explored the different ways that we could visualise it for them,” McGregor said.

“It was pretty quick. We were giving them designs to look at in less than a week and we could iterate the solution from there.”

“Luke came up with innovative ways to solve the requirements challenges we presented to him,” Wells said. “Sometimes when he delivered a requirement in its most basic form we often refined it within our original parameters.”

“What was really important was to be able to quickly try some ideas out and see if it made sense,” McGregor said.

The final solution was ready for use in July, three months after work began.

“CityEdge came to us with a problem, and we helped them quickly explore ways to solve this in software,” McGregor said. “We then took the best ideas and worked them into a system to help them view and validate their test data. We’re in the business of solving problems. The best way to do this is to be able to test out ideas quickly and keep only the best ones to build on.”

“We were impressed with a working concept within a couple of weeks,” Higgins said. “Luke showed us what became the Waikato Expressway Testing Application or W.E.T.A early on. It looks and feels like what we have today. It’s pulling everything together.”

W.E.T.A. is used daily by about 50 CityEdge Alliance users and there’s potential for the system to be deployed on other projects.

The Waikato Expressway

The Waikato Expressway will reduce travel times, improve safety, reduce congestion and drive economic growth for Hamilton, the Waikato and the nation. Construction of the Hamilton Section of the Waikato Expressway began in October 2016 and is due for completion by 2020. The project (Hamilton Section) features five interchanges, 17 bridges and 22km of separate four-lane highway.