Atkins partners with AI start-up nPlan

The partnership will combine Atkin’s project delivery experience with nPlan’s machine learning technology and Innovate UK will assist with the funding. The findings will be shared in August 2021.

Atkins partners with AI start-up nPlan
Atkins partners with AI start-up nPlan

Atkins partners with AI start-up nPlan

Atkins announced that it has recently partnered with AI start-up nPlan. The partnership is expected to identify and assess new contracting methods that focus on collaboration and risk for major infrastructure projects. The partnership will combine Atkin’s project delivery experience with nPlan’s machine learning technology and Innovate UK will assist with the funding. The findings will be shared in August 2021.

nPlan’s technology uses multiple techniques to learn how projects perform. At a high level, the algorithm learns by comparing the individual activities in a baseline schedule to activities in an actualized schedule. This process is repeated hundreds of millions of times, building up a knowledge base of project performance that will allow for “impartial and collective forecasting, increased transparency between project partners and a shared, improved view of project risk”.

Atkins and nPlan will work alongside the likes of Heathrow Airport to analyse the current contracting models before developing and piloting data and technology-driven alternatives over the next 12 months. The research will also identify how technology can support initiatives, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Project 13 and proposed reinventions of New Engineering Contracts. 

According to a report by CIOB, Richard Robinson, Atkins UK & Europe CEO, said that the industry has historically been slow to adopt new technology, which is partly due to the risk and rewards mechanisms of its contracting models. He also added that As such, there needs to be a step-change if they’re going to unlock and encourage innovation. So that it can serve to increase the predictability of project performance and deliver whole-life value in order to ensure greater returns on investment for their clients.

Dev Amratia, CEO at nPlan, stated that Atkins and the wider SNC-Lavalin group were one of their earliest backers and that they’ve worked together for almost two years now. He added that they are excited to partner with an immensely talented team to investigate how powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms can be applied to help solve some of the industry’s long-standing problems.

Jon Kerbey, digital director at Heathrow, mentioned that accelerating and broadening the learning and feedback process on project performance through the use of AI has the potential to transform the way in which the industry procures, plans and delivers projects. He added that they are delighted to be working with Atkins and nPlan on this innovative initiative.