Ferrovial Agroman (Australia)

The Australian Business Award for Business Innovation recognises organisations that execute business initiatives which demonstrate innovative solutions for new and existing business needs.

Ferrovial Agroman is the unit that carries out civil engineering construction, building and industrial projects at Ferrovial Group. Ferrovial Agroman (Australia) develops and supports their activity across Australia.

Ferrovial Agroman (Australia) was recognised as an ABA100® Winner for Business Innovation in the Australian Business Awards 2016 for the initiatives outlined below: Application of Drones in Construction; Laboratory SMS system for test results; Use of twin U girders.

After analysing their initial needs, making tests with different types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and following the advice of companies specialised in the use of drones, Ferrovial Agroman (Australia) decided to make a first investment in a fixed-wing UAV. This UAV is equipped with a GPS system. The information gathered from the GPS system allows them to place the photos in the correct position within a coordinate system and, by projecting the information contained therein, obtain a digital terrain model. This model is not only helping them to get terrain elevations from the orthophotos obtained through this, but also allows them to obtain measurable photographic maps. In addition to obtaining the elevation model, information obtained through orthophotos allows Ferrovial to implement monthly monitoring of the states of all jobs. Outcomes and results that demonstrate the effectiveness of the initiative are gaining quality products, using less human resources, and the improvement of the study and planning of work. Perseverance, diligence and teamwork of the survey department have been essential in this project with the invaluable collaboration of the rest of the departments.

The SMS initiative began after the study of the trend of rework for earthwork activities from similar types of projects. The conclusion of the study was that communication and availability of test results at the right time would help in reducing the rework cost. The team came up with an innovative idea to upgrade the existing system so the project laboratory would be able to issue the test results as SMS to the workforce on site.

The system has been used now for a year by the NATA testing laboratory, and the company has witnessed many improved outcomes from using the SMS system. It has resulted in improved work productivity, as the crew on site receive the results as soon as they have been issued by the lab. Subsequently, they can proceed with their work and move to the next activity without any delays. The system also saves time and money, as even though the system costs $500 per month on average, this is minimal compared to the cost of delays and rework. The system has resulted in client and stakeholder satisfaction, as well as improved traceability. The SMS system also benefits the entire organisation, as it has been used in wider projects within the organisation and will be a beneficial tool for projects located in large cities. The system has been used to send environment alerts i.e. rain events, and can even be used by the safety team to send safety emergency notifications.

Ferrovial Agroman used harmonised and efficient twin U girders in the ‘Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads’ project in New South Wales. This dramatically contrasts to the Super T girders used elsewhere on the Pacific Highway. The design reduces the required number of girders from 558 to 166, thereby optimising cost and lessening the impact of maintenance regimes.

The design also significantly reduces the stress which would otherwise be placed on precast facilities. The U girders have been designed as post tensioned elements to allow prefabrication on a temporary precast yard set up on RMS assigned land within the project corridor, or close to one of the major bridges. The most outstanding outcome of self-performing U-girders on site is the dramatically reduction of special transports in the Pacific Highway versus transporting Super T’s from any of the local pre-existing facilities. The standard approach of using Super T’s would have required 415 special transports. The reduced number of expansion joints per bridge and the similarity of joint types for all bridges will result in less disruption during the life of bridges and will provide greater standards of reliability and performance for road users. The reduced number of bearings and girders will deliver greater benefits for the Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads highway in the form of reduced inspection and maintenance requirements.

Ferrovial Agroman (Australia) demonstrated not only capabilities for designing and constructing a new type of girder within the Australia Construction Industry, but the capability of making it possible with its own resources. Positive feedback on this solution has been received from clients and other players in the construction market, and twin U girders are being considered as an option in other projects with similar challenges and characteristics to the Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads project.