Planning a construction project is a gigantic assignment. It a complex effort to match contractors availability, materials and building sequence. Once the schedule is in place still difficult to really tell if it’s the most efficient meeting all project criteria.
ALICE breaks down the individual components of the building to understand the scope of the project. Fortunately, existing building information modeling (BIM) tools already contained most of the data that ALICE required, such as the location, quantity and types of materials that were going into an individual project. “There’s a lot of useful information encoded in BIM,” Morkos says.
In addition to the information available in BIM, the software understands the more subtle complexities of scheduling. For instance, it is aware that it takes time to move a crane from one location on the job site to another, and it accounts for those realities as it produces the project timeline.
By accessing the BIM, ALICE could determine the pieces it needed to build a project, but it still had to figure out everything that went into assembling those pieces. That’s where Morkos hit on his other big innovation: parametric scheduling.
Instead of telling ALICE how to build every individual column, window or girder, parametric scheduling uses a “Recipe” system. Engineers only need to tell ALICE how to build a single column and the program will then extrapolate that process to all other columns in the BIM. “You don’t tell the software how to build the whole project,” Morkos explains. “You tell it how to build a slab, then to replicate for all slabs.”
As a result of that breakthrough, ALICE is the world’s first parametric construction planner. “We cracked a problem that no one has been able to crack for 50 years,” Morkos boasts. “It’s 43,000 hours, eight years of my life.”
Tim O’Connor, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media