ContractorRoading

New Zealand’s most challenging NOC

Fulton Hogan’s West Coast Network Outcomes Contract (NOC) for the NZTA started in September 2015 as a collaborative partnership between five West Coast companies on what is the country’s longest and arguably most challenging highway. We look at the cutting-edge technology used on this contract, based on FH’s 2021 CCNZ/Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards entry.

The West Coast Network Outcomes Contract (NOC) covers 878 kilometres of highway from Haast Pass in the south to Mokihinui in the north, and includes State Highway 73, which acts as a key link between the Canterbury and West Coast regions via Arthurs Pass, as well as the Haast and Lewis alpine passes. 

The network is a lifeline for its communities, and the local, regional, and national economies rely heavily on this infrastructure to transport products to markets and visitors to their destinations.

The West Coast NOC team is a collaborative partnership between five West Coast companies: Fulton Hogan, WSP Opus, WestReef Services, Westroads, and MBD Contracting. 

A team of 90 staff work 24 hours, seven days a week, servicing this state highway network. Overnight shifts are common during the winter months to keep the alpine passes open.

Since award of the West Coast NOC in 2015, the contract has been one of the top five performing NOC contracts in the country as assessed by the Transport Agency and covers 22 key performance indicators across six categories: health and safety; road user safety; customer; sustainability; assurance value; and network performance. 

In the 2019-21 performance results, the West Coast NOC was placed first in the country, with an outstanding score of 3.69, which was the highest score ever achieved by a NOC contractor.

Contract collaboration 

Shared contract workspace and shared cutting-edge tools allows the NZTA, Futon Hogan, WSP Opus, WestReef, Westroads and MBD Contracting to work collaboratively on documents with no surprises. 

An online portal links to all contract information, displaying live and up-to-date data. This interface for all management systems, which is easy to use and accessible for the wider team. provides one location for all parties to access documentation and cuts down on multiple documents circulated among different parties. 

Data collections tools

RAMM inspections provide a transparent record to show inspections are being completed according to specification. These inspections can be planned for compliance periods and have an overview dashboard built into RAMM so both compliance and progress can be monitored. 

Although inspections can be viewed in the office, the records can only be edited on a Pocket RAMM device in the field to ensure inspections are completed when the site is visited. 

Fulton Hogan uses the ‘live’ RAMM database to undertake its site inspections which are logged using Panasonic ‘ToughPads’. Inspection information is linked from Pocket RAMM to the RAMM Contractor database, and any identified faults can be viewed as part of the inspection. This information is available in real time to anyone who has access to the RAMM database.

The use of FH’s own Archimedes reporting method provides benefits to the NZTA as it gives a transparent oversight of the contents and provides the ability to analyse performance, see trends in maintenance activity and identify data quality glitches to repair.

A road temperature device is also fitted to vehicles to provide a map-based thermal track of road and air temperatures during road inspections. This provides quality data for decisions on when to treat the network.

In addition to RAMM data, Fulton Hogan uses asset management tools to provide information on the network condition. This supplements RAMM data and allows the contractor to choose interventions/solutions that use evidence-based, optimised decision-making procedures. 

Archimedes is a data management innovation developed by Fulton Hogan that displays information from RAMM and other datasets imported into a Microsoft Power BI data warehouse through real-time (updated every 15 minutes), giving a “live” view of what is sitting in RAMM and attributed workflow.

JunoViewer is a powerful interrogation of condition data and managing forward work programme, enabling the user to manage inventory, data, reports and budgets in order to maintain infrastructure such as roads and bridges. 

This tool allows the user to visualise and understand complex data sets in a simple and effective way.

Roadroid is a mobile phone application that records roughness (IRI/NAASRA) while driving the network. The phone mounts to the dashboard and collects a value every 20 metres. 

This data is used to manage the unsealed network, monitor LOS adjustments, and provide robust reporting. It can be viewed on a map through Excel or statistically analysed and graphed.

ARI (Automated Road Intelligence) enables optimal asset decisions using reliable defect data while keeping inspectors safely off the road. It operates in two stages; Video capture using the latest camera technology that cost-effectively captures high-resolution imagery of the road surface, and surrounding environment at normal road speed. 

The benefits of this system include keeping inspectors off the road and out of live traffic – this is a significant improvement in health and safety for key frontline staff.

The location, size, severity, and repair type is assigned and automatically generated into job management software called RAMM Dispatch. This revolutionary approach ensures 100 percent capture of faults and defects in a consistent way across a whole network.

OPM Tracker has been developed to help manage the monthly Operational Performance Measure (OPM) audits and reporting on state highway Network Outcomes Contracts.

Atlas is a cloud-based version of the Maintenance Management Plan. 

Rather than searching through a wordy manual, Atlas enables quick access to the relevant process in a couple of clicks. The front window provides a calendar with key tasks and deliverables, which then link to detailed processes and methodologies to undertake each task. 

Atlas is accessible from the field via smart phone or tablet.

Road safety inspection tool is a mobile platform for recording road safety concerns during safety and night inspections. The tool uses ArcGIS and allows users to efficiently record an array of information, comments, and photos specific to the concern. 

Maintenance tasks can be extracted to create RAMM dispatches. A severity index highlights urgent tasks, enabling quick decisions and response.

Safety innovation with portable traffic lights

In June 2018, Fulton Hogan’s Traffic Critical Risk Group set out to remove all traffic controllers from the line of fire by June 2020, so eliminate the need for staff to be near live lanes operating stop/go paddles.

The West Coast NOC successfully trialed and implemented ESTOP portable traffic lights that can monitor and control the traffic in real-time. The traffic lights are portable and stored in carry bags small enough to be transported in the boot of a standard car. 

The installation and removal of the lights takes 30 seconds to a minute, having negligible impact on productivity.

Emergency responses 

Sitting under the Southern Alps, the West Coast is subject to wild weather and extreme acts of nature. Throughout the term of the contract, the network has experienced significant damage spread across the length of the network from two cyclones (Cyclone Fehi and Cyclone Gita) and other significant storm events, such as flooding and gale-force winds.

With geographic and environmental constraints of the network faced in times of emergency, communication is often limited, and cell coverage is often lost, so trusting relationships were essential to ensure success.  

The team’s emergency response involved the reinstatement of the Waiho river bridge in 17 days after the bridge was washed away following heavy rainfall and a declared state of emergency in March 2019. 

Fifty personnel from the NOC, other contractors and the army were involved in rebuilding the 170-metre-long connection – a projects that won the 2020 IPWEA Award for projects under $5 million.

Subcontractor involvement 

In excess of 67 percent (2020 financial year) and 62 percent (year-to-date mid 2021) of the works completed on the West Coast NOC is in partnership with local subcontractors. 

This is the highest subcontractor percentage across all NOCs in the country and ensures local communities within the West Coast retain access to a skilled subcontractor base, while also sustaining the local authority tendering market and ensuring multiple subcontractors are available for emergency works.

FH says its vision of being ‘one team’ is maintained throughout the contract by having regular contact with its contractors and sharing knowledge and exposing them to best work practice to improve the processes and work on the ground. 

The improvements made by these contractors was noticeable, says Fulton Hogan, especially around areas such as health and safety, environmental and customer service. 

“As a result of this combined team vision, tier two and tier three contractor performances were lifted. These contractors gained valuable knowledge, assisting the development and training of their people, says FH. This knowledge could then be implemented elsewhere into these local businesses, to improve the standard of the industry.”

Fulton Hogan provides its subcontractors with access to its Blue Books and GoTo Know How Guides, which provide crews and subcontractors with best practice and minimum requirements in easily accessible formats.

Based on the knowledge of its most experienced practitioners, Fulton Hogan’s Blue Books cover best practice on various tasks on the road and are its key training aid. They cover asphalt laying; chip-sealing; grading and maintenance of unsealed roads; pavement construction; and sealed pavement and winter maintenance.

Its GoTo Know How Guides are simple, two-page documents explaining minimum requirements for working with plant, machinery or certain health and safety risks in pictures and are supported by a video. 

They are accessible via scanning QR codes on smart phones, or tablets, so they can be easily accessed on the field. They are great discussion points for tailgates and a useful training resource for new employees and subcontractors.

• Fulton Hogan’s entry in the 2021 CCNZ/Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards entry in Category 6 (maintenance and management of assets) won a Highly Commended mention from the judges.

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