Some time ago, February 2019, we published a post about Artificial Intelligence in project management. Since then, the world of construction and project management has evolved a lot. A few weeks ago we discovered the ALICE project based on Artificial Intelligence applied to project management. A project closely related to what we were talking about in that post. In this post, we are going to talk about the ALICE Technologies project, its founder, and the future of construction linked to artificial intelligence. If you want to get deeper the world of Artificial Intelligence, we recommend the book Artificial Intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future, by Lasse Rouhiainen. Are you ready?
Who is René Morkos?
René Morkos is the founder and CEO of Alice Technologies, a company based on Menlo Park (California, United States) and offering solutions, based on artificial intelligence, to the challenges facing the construction industry. René Morkos trained as a Civil and Environmental Engineer at the American University of Beirut. Between 2006 and 2007, he studied a Master in Construction Management at the University of Southern California. Finally, between 2007 and 2013, he got a PhD in Engineering and Construction Management at Stanford University, where he was part of the GAIA group (Green Alliance for Innovative Action). Likewise, he became vice president of the AGS (Associated General Contractors of America), member of the CMAA (Construction Management Association of America), and the DBIA (Design Build Institute of America).
On a professional level, in addition to being the founder of Alice Technologies, he worked as a project engineer, structural analysis engineer, project manager, automation engineer, both in the United States and internationally. Since 2018, he is a professor at Stanford University in the subject of “Management, Manufacturing, and Construction”.
4D Project Management
Project planning is an important part of project management. Until not many years ago, the field of project planning was a two-dimensional task: tasks and time. Gantt charts were born, which reflected these two dimensions. In parallel, the design or engineering of the project was worked on, through design or 3D models. Then, you start to think about integrating scheduling and 3D modeling to create a dynamic 3-dimensional model, where each phase of the physical performance of the project is represented on a timeline. Through these 3D models, we will be able to see how a project is performed over time.
However, a further step is taken, integrating a new dimension to the existing model that represented the activities carried out over time by means of constructive elements. This new dimension would be the cost and all that it entails, such as the management of resources such as labor, machinery, and materials. This is where 4D project management and the BIM era were born. Companies like Synchro have done an enormous work of integrating planning, 3D modeling, and project cost and budget into a single tool, as can be seen in the following video:
What is ALICE?
ALICE is the first platform worldwide, based on artificial intelligence and applied to the construction industry. The acronym ALICE comes from ArtificiaL Intelligence Construction Engineering. It is a generative construction simulator that is capable of ingesting a BIM (Building Information Modeling) model and using a set of rules and algorithms to quickly generate thousands of viable options at the project schedule level, just by pressing a button. In this simulator, it is possible to change parameters in real-time, such as the number of cranes or delays in the execution of activities, in order to instantly see the impact on the activity schedule.
There are four points where ALICE Technologies and its AI focus on to solve complex day-to-day challenges in construction:
- solve the complex constraints of a project and be able to validate the construction plan;
- optimize the project’s resources, such as labor, machinery, and equipment, or materials;
- define and simulate hundreds of possible scenarios throughout the life of a project, in order to find the best way to execute the construction phase;
- improve, in a matter of minutes and at an early stage of the project, your schedules and construction plans.
Alice Technologies has already worked on infrastructure projects, mining projects, industrial projects, Oil & Gas projects, and Data Centers.
ALICE applied to infrastructure
The artificial intelligence technology applied to project management offered by ALICE has been applied in a budget project of $ 600M. 20 km long highway that included overpasses. In this project, there were two separate work teams: one team working with the Primavera P6 planning and scheduling tool, and another team working with ALICE and its artificial intelligence. Both work teams compared results at the end of the project. After six months of work, the ALICE team became a clear winner thanks to a more optimized and significantly faster schedule of activities. Finally, 69 days of work were saved in the execution of the project thanks to ALICE’s artificial intelligence-based technology.
Another example in which ALICE was much more efficient when executing the project, was in the execution of a complex roof at an airport in Asia. The project had a budget of $ 3B and ALICE achieved a reduction of the execution time of 47 days. In this case, ALICE assessed the different crane positioning and task sequence scenarios. ALICE once again helped the project team reduce execution time and cost.
ALICE applied to mining
In the mining industry, ALICE also shows significant signs of strength compared to traditional project planning. One of the largest mining operations in the world used ALICE’s artificial intelligence to explore resource and manpower optimization strategies, reaching much more efficient utilization points.
ALICE applied to Industrial
The industrial sector, which is nourished by industrial methods and processes, also benefits from ALICE for the execution of high-risk projects. In this case, ALICE’s AI-based technology helps industrial contractors develop much more detailed project plans when execution risk is at its peak.
ALICE applied to Oil & Gas
The Oil & Gas industry is another sector where ALICE’s artificial intelligence can contribute a lot. In this case, ALICE helps refineries to return to normal processes on time, on budget, with the greatest security and with the least amount of unplanned work possible.
ALICE applied to Data Centers
Within the data center construction industry, speed is everything. In this case, simulations based on BIM models help to identify strategies to achieve the project as quickly as possible.
IN PROJECT 2080 WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO REMEMBER
We are already entering the world of Artificial Intelligence. In this world, there is great room for AI to become part of project management and the construction industry. Companies like ALICE Technologies are making this possible: creating simulations and constructive strategies in just minutes; comparing dozens of options when planning projects; making step-by-step visualizations of activities carried out; and monitoring and optimizing the key resources of a project. Will the planner function as we know it until now end soon, giving way to artificial intelligence? Will our profession need specialists in the management of these new tools to analyze and make decisions? Surely very soon we will have answers to these questions.