Revolutionizing Construction Scheduling: The Rise of AI-Driven Optioneering

Revolutionizing Construction Scheduling: The Rise of AI-Driven Optioneering World Construction Today | Feb 25 2024

ENR breaks the story of ALICE Technologies' announcement of ALICE Core and its integration with Oracle's scheduling tools

Read the post by ALICE CMO, Phil Carpenter, as published on World Construction Today

Historically, the process of construction scheduling has been as much art as science, with plans made by schedulers based principally on past experience, rather than on the evaluation and testing of different options to produce an optional schedule. Why haven’t schedulers traditionally explored multiple plans? In short, this was because with existing software, such exploration was simply too difficult to do. But recent advances in artificial intelligence are bringing new capabilities to the scheduling world, perhaps the most intriguing of which is “construction optioneering.”

So what is this new addition to the scheduling world? And how does it benefit the general contractors and owners that are adopting it?

Construction optioneering gives companies the ability to use “what if” analysis to explore different ways to build, to “pressure test” existing schedules and find alternatives that could be faster, less risky, and more profitable. The category was created by ALICE Technologies, and its product ALICE Core enables builders to import a P6 schedule into the ALICE platform and immediately begin testing alternatives to the baseline. Builders can use the product to consider questions such as “what if I added an extra crane to the building site?,” “what if my shipment of steel from concrete arrived from China a month late?,” or “what if a nasty winter storm delayed the start of construction by two weeks?.” With the power of AI, builders can find ways to address these issues and adjust their schedules to account for such situations.

The discipline can also be used to address broader performance questions, such as “how can I reduce my total build time” or “how can I change my schedule to reduce labor costs”?

In the case of ALICE, such easy manipulation and exploration of schedules is made possible by the fact that the product is parametric. This means that the schedules’ key elements are converted into variables – variables that can then be easily changed to evaluate the impact of such changes and determine the optimal path forward.

Once a scheduler has optioneered his schedule this way, he can then export it back to P6 and OPC, where he can compare it against his baseline schedule and export results to owners and other audiences that may contractually require that contractors share schedules with them as a P6 or OPC file. Given that the Oracle Primavera product family is an established industry standard, such a requirement is no surprise. And now, using these products and ALICE Core together, schedulers have a new-found ability to deliver AI-optimized schedules that are substantially more efficient.

ALICE Technologies CEO, René Morkos, recently commented, “2023 was the year in which AI received widespread recognition as an innovation that would radically change the technology landscape. In 2024, companies are pushing forward in industry after industry to put AI to work. Construction scheduling is the perfect example of a very focused use case for AI – one in which it can substantially impact productivity and profitability.”

Where has construction optioneering seen early wins? Thusfar, it has resonated particularly well in the industrial and infrastructure segments, sectors where the project size is fairly large ($100M+) and the ROI significant. A general contractor might put construction optioneering to work in building a nuclear power plant, for example, or an oil and gas pipeline. But as the technology continues to advance and software prices drop, we should see adoption spread quickly to additional sectors – such as commercial – and to smaller projects.

In short, the construction optioneering is a game in early innings. But given the speed with which the AI segment is progressing, the potential for optioneering to make a substantial impact on our industry in just the next few years is high.

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