AI on HS2

Sequencing on HS2 optimised with AI construction software

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Align JV to extend use of Alice Technologies AI-based project planning and scheduling software on UK rail project


AI-construction software specialist Alice Technologies and Align JV (a joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick) will be expanding their partnership on HS2, the UK’s high-speed railway line project.

Alice Technologies’ construction simulation and optimisation platform is designed to help contractors plan, bid and build large-scale infrastructure and commercial projects more efficiently using AI.

Align initially came to Alice Technologies with a goal of “pressure testing” its existing construction schedule for the Colne Valley Viaduct. The Align team wanted to find opportunities to optimise the sequence and resources to minimise cost and environmental impact.

With the AI-powered 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.

The Align team explored a variety of “what if” scenarios to ensure they had the most robust programme 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 teams required on the substructure in order to increase the utilisation of their crews and minimise downtime for labour and equipment.

With Alice, the Align team identified a number of ways to introduce leeway into their original production schedule. For example, they determined that adding a second “cap 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.”

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The Align team also found that Alice enabled them to make significantly faster decisions about their scheduling choices. This was all the more impressive given that the collaboration all happened remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.

Alice Technologies and Align teams 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 optimising its work to reduce carbon emissions, a national priority for construction work in the UK.

In addition, the Align team is using Alice Manage in the construction phase, explained Align’s Nick Podevyn: “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.”

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