ALICE Technologies and Align JV – a joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick that is delivering the Central 1 (C1) portion of HS2 Phase One – say that the two organizations will be expanding their partnership on HS2, one of the largest infrastructure construction projects currently underway in Europe. ALICE Technologies’ construction simulation and optimization platform helps general contractors worldwide leverage the power of AI to plan, bid and build their large-scale infrastructure and commercial projects more efficiently.

Align initially came to ALICE Technologies with a goal of “pressure testing” their existing construction schedule for their viaduct. The Align team wanted to find opportunities to optimize the sequence and resources to minimize cost and environmental impact.

While humans are skilled at planning and strategizing, computers are ideal for simulating options and resolving constraints. By using ALICE, general contractors combine their industry experience with ALICE’s powerful simulation capabilities, enabling them to make faster, data-driven decisions.

The traditional approach to planning is for a team of planners to build the program, assign durations, and determine costs and constraints. The program then goes through a number of reviews by commercial and operational leads. Building alternative programs is time consuming and resource-intensive. With the ALICE platform, Align has been able to generate millions of potential sequence options – along with fully-loaded construction schedules – for the planning team to evaluate.

Using ALICE, the Align team explored a variety of “what if” scenarios to ensure they had the most robust program of work. For example, what if the teams that installed the concrete pile caps worked on Saturdays? And what if they increased the size of the team? ALICE also helped the team explore the optimal mix of crews required on the substructure in order to increase the utilization of their crews and minimize downtime for labor and equipment.

With ALICE, Align identified a number of ways to introduce leeway into their original production schedule. For example, they determined that adding a second concrete pile cap installation team part-way through the project would be particularly helpful. They also found that while adding some Saturday overtime to the schedule was useful, “more” was not always “better.”

Align also found that ALICE enabled it to make significantly faster decisions about its scheduling choices. This was all the more impressive given that the collaboration all happened remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.

Based on this success, ALICE Technologies and Align are now extending the scope of their work to address other construction challenges on the C1 section of HS2 Phase One that Align is delivering, including optimizing their work to reduce carbon emissions, a national priority for construction work in the U.K. In addition, Align is using ALICE Manage in the construction phase. “With ALICE Manage, we will be able to re-sequence our schedule, helping us to deliver our portion of the HS2 project on time and on budget,” said Nick Podevyn, innovation and improvement manager at Align JV.