Tutorial: Create Consumable and Reusable Materials

If you are looking to create Materials for your ALICE projects, then you are in the right place!

For a more hands-on experience, navigate through the player for an interactive walk-through, or if you prefer a more detailed approach, scroll down for a step-by-step guide:



Create Materials:

  1. In the Resources tab located in the upper right, go to the Material tab
  2. Enter required crew data:
    • Material Name
    • Type - Consumable or Reusable
    • Qty Avail. - number of available material
    • $/Unit - material cost per unit
  3. Click Create Material to complete the process

Consumable resources are no longer available for the remainder of the project once they are consumed (e.g., concrete, single-use formwork, EPS structural foam, rebar)

Reusable materials may be effectively reused multiple times over a project’s duration (e.g., reusable formwork sets, deck shoring)



Consumable Resource Behavior:

From Figure 1, we see that the project only has two (2) sets of column formwork available. Pretend for a moment that the column formwork has been classified as a consumable resource. Figure 3 shows a basic 3-task recipe where specific material actions have been assigned to each task using column formwork: requires for ‘form’ and supplies for ‘strip form.’ Actions define how the task treats the assigned material resource, as shown in Figure 4.

Observe how the red line behaves, representing how the material is tracked throughout the activity.



Figure 3 - Formwork material behavior as a consumable resource. Note the resource quantity on the y-axis refers to the available quantity defined in the resource pool.


Figure 4 - Define the material’s action.


Reusable Resource Behavior:

Figure 5 shows how the formwork material behaves when defined as reusable; all other material and task parameters remain unchanged. No matter the action, whether required or supplied, the reusable material is only in use for the duration of the task it is assigned to.



Figure 5 - Material behavior as a reusable resource. Note the resource quantity on the y-axis refers to the available quantity defined in the resource pool.



Which is better? Consumable or Reusable?

It depends. What do you wish to accomplish with your materials?

Scenarios aligned with defining materials as consumable:

  • Tracking cumulative material costs over the project’s duration
    • Every time a consumable material is used in ALICE, its cost is tallied
  • Materials that are only used once

Defining materials as reusable is useful when:

  • Constraining a quantity of a consumable material that can be placed over time (e.g., concrete)
  • Tracking the usage frequency of material resources that are able to be reused multiple times on a project

Summary of Consumable vs. Reusable Behavior:

If we told ALICE we could only place a maximum of  two (2) cubic feet of concrete at any given time for whatever reason, and we modeled our resource constraints similar to Example Scenario 2 above, ALICE would sequence our project as shown in Figure 11:



Figure 11 - Comparison between consumable and reusable concrete material quantification through a series of recipe operations


Understanding the behavior of consumable versus reusable materials in ALICE can unlock a user’s creative potential for modeling unique project constraints. The principles outlined above can also be applied to constraining or tracking the application of labor and equipment resources. Don’t be afraid to test things out and push ALICE to the limit!


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