Working smarter on the Waikato Expressway

NZTA engineer Alexios Kavallaris

The complicated and time-consuming quality testing programme on a major Waikato project has been turned on its head by an engineer with a life-long interest in computing.

Thousands of hours of checking the quality assurance programme on the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway were slashed due to a programme set up by NZTA engineer Alexios Kavallaris.

The Hamilton section is a 22 kilometre four-lane highway running east of the city and the final piece in the 102 kilometre Waikato Expressway. It is due to be completed in late 2021 and is being built by an alliance for the NZTA.

“Since I was 18, I have always looked for opportunities to exploit any new software that would fall into my hands, as well as building computers from scratch in my spare time,” says Alexios, who is employed by the Transport Agency.

“I saw opportunities to really make a difference to this project when I joined the alliance’s quality team mid-August this year as a zone quality engineer, initially working to help out in the drainage team.”

In the first three years of the project more than 100,000 tests have been done, and each needs signed-off verification under the Inspection Test Plan (ITP) including a review and mathematical checks.

“It was taking 17 minutes for an engineer to review and check just one test. There was two years’ work for three people testing all day, all week.”

Alexios has developed an automated method to fast-track the numerous mathematical calculations and give a dynamic review of testing rather than a static one.

“The first Excel spreadsheet created was simple and was created to test if the theory was correct,” he says.

“After a successful trial period more effort was put into bulk calculations for all drainage piping installed in a sector.’’

The spreadsheet uses complex formulas to give rapid results for pass/fail.

ITP compliance and subsequently work-pack close work is now conducted in two clicks: one for importing final test results from the lab and then filtering results per layer. This tool gives the reviewers the full picture of testing done for every pipe installed from bottom (foundation) to top (backfill).

“Any fine-tuning can be identified early and implemented rapidly to avoid rework costs.”

This spreadsheet is now being developed into software to produce real-time reporting for the CityEdge Alliance building the Hamilton section.

He says the tool is applicable (when the formulas are tweaked) to any construction discipline that needs an automated level of QA.

“I love a challenge and as soon as I saw this one, I knew there had to be a better, faster way. I had a lot of support from drainage site engineer Justin Matthews, and his help with advanced use of spreadsheets was invaluable.”

He has had similar success overseas developing automated systems to check if contractors were meeting performance criteria. He also has produced a real-time financial tracking system to alert clients of any non-agreed variations.

Greece-born Alexios graduated from the University of Portsmouth (UK) and has a MSc in both Civil Engineering and Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering. He managed Tier 1 construction companies before he left Greece.

He has been seconded into the Hamilton team from the Transport Agency where he has most recently been working as a Senior Project manager on the Longswamp project, which is on track to be delivered by the end of this year.

Recently he and his family were granted New Zealand citizenship.





Hover Box Element

Hover Box Element

The Tamahere section is a challenging section of motorway for the design team.

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