WSP National Research Manager Wendy Turvey says the Chamber of Commerce visit was a great opportunity for the WSP Research team to connect with other businesses based near its Petone facility and branch office. WSP Research is proud to be a part of the Hutt Valley Technology hub.
After a health and safety induction, the visiting group heard from Wendy about materials testing. From steel and concrete to plastic, clients from across the country and abroad send material to WSP “to break”. In these kinds of tests, ever-increasing loads are applied to test samples often up to the point of failure.
The group were given an overview of WSP’s ‘cast machine,’ (circular accelerated testing facility) which is used to test the durability of road and pavement materials - including some now being made from biomass and recycled materials. They also eyeballed WSP’s ‘shake table’ – used to simulate the resilience of structures to earthquakes.
Principal Instrumentation Engineer Mike Lusby talked through sensing systems being developed and deployed by WSP to monitor the long-term structural resilience of bridges and buildings, and to keep an eye on unstable slopes.
WSP’s sensing kit marches in lockstep with the advance of technology. Much of it is now wireless, miniaturised, camera-equipped and battery powered. Decision making insights from monitoring data are increasingly being made available in real time to clients through web dashboards.
At WSP's wind tunnel, Research Leader Neil Jamieson cranked the dial on a scale model of Wellington CBD - simulating the highest annual average wind speed experienced in the city centre.
The wind tunnel is one of two commercial wind engineering facilities in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s used to help clients assess the impact of new buildings on wind flow around city streets, investigate how wind affects the sway of tall buildings, and to test surface cladding.
Rounding out the tour, Research Manager of People Louise Malcolm spoke about how WSP brings together human-centred design, data, and research to improve people’s lives through the design of places, transport and infrastructure.
From shaping the layout of rail control rooms and public transport facilities to how emergency and evacuation routes can best be lit and signposted, WSP’s 10-strong behavioural science team provide valuable insights into the drivers and motivations of how people interact with the built and natural environment.
Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Patrick McKibbin says the Chamber's series of visits to Hutt Valley businesses in 2022 is all about sharing the great work that happens in the Hutt’s research, manufacturing, innovation and technology sectors.
"The visit to WSP was another showcase of the people, hard work, and inspiring work that is being undertaken every day in our region. The business leaders who attended were blown away by the work and knowledge of WSP's staff.
"It was a chance to learn what WSP Research do, reconnect with other businesses and develop new relationships. The collaboration by businesses across our region is something very special, and WSP is an important part of this collaborative community,” he says.
More information about WSP’s Petone research facility can be found here. More information on how the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce supports and connects the local business community is here.