The 10 million-piece nuclear puzzle

26 August 2014

The project to build a demonstration fusion power reactor relies on hundreds of individual suppliers. It is the ITER Organization’s job to coordinate all of their contributions.

The seven members of the ITER project share the responsibility of building the ITER machine and facilities. It is the largest global research effort on nuclear fusion ever undertaken.

Ninety percent of contributions will be delivered in-kind. Members (China, EU, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the USA) will deliver components for the Tokamak and plant systems directly to the ITER Organization in France. Designing, manufacturing, transporting and assembling the 10 million components of the project, many of which are of exceptional size and weight, pose logistics and managerial challenges of colossal proportions.

ITER sought an off-the-shelf solution to manage the supply chain for components that are being manufactured and procured all over the world.

ITER also wanted cost-effective software that could bring in industry standards and best practices. Intergraph, engineering enterprise software provider for the power and nuclear sectors, among others, was awarded the contract to provide the software and services supporting the Assembly and Operation division of the ITER project. ITER contracted Intergraph to supply and implement off-the-shelf solutions to help manage construction, materials management, commissioning/testing, technical document and data management, as well as to bring industry best practice for these systems to ITER. These products also had to integrate seamlessly with existing ITER software, such as ITER Document Management,Engineering Data Base (EDB, including ITER's engineering tools) and SAP.

SmartPlant® Materials (SPMat) is able to track, trace and manage all components and parts of the ITER site in compliance with nuclear safety regulation. The tool will link on-site inventory management with construction planning to maximize cost-efficiency and avoid construction disruption.

SPMat will provide ITER Organization with central storage of logistics information and make possible effective management of logistics activities. The material catalogue specifications, bill of materials (BOM) and material take-off (MTO) requisitions, and procurement, tracing, warehousing and inspections information will all be centralized in SP Materials. This will enable each department or function to access whatever materials logistics data is needed for a task in the format most appropriate to that task. SP Materials configuration was delivered in May and is expected to continue acceptance testing until October, although in the meantime it is being used in a production environment for activities such as materials receiving.
All material deliveries to the ITER site will be loaded into SPMat. It will manage all materials for both domestic agency in-kind contracts and ITER Organization in-cash contracts with suppliers (see figures).

To help with these materials management processes in SPMat, interfaces have already been developed and tested between SPMat and EDB, SPMat and SAP as well as SPMat and the shipping data that will be provided by logistics provider Daher.

The data for all material deliverables that will arrive at the ITER site in Cadarache, France needs to be captured at the source (the supplier) and tracked through data received from Daher. When the delivery trucks arrive at site, the data in SPMat should match the delivery details and allow planning for final inspections and warehousing. A big focus of SPMat is on tracking and tracing of all materials from the source supplier to the ITER site.

This materials management process means that the materials in the SPMat warehouses are ready to interface with the next Intergraph product being implemented, SmartPlant Construction (SPC). SPC manages workface planning and interfaces to the project-assembly schedule in Primavera project management software. The Field Installation Work Packs in SPC (downloaded from Primavera) will interface with SPMat to determine the status of required materials and, when available, will automatically reserve the material, ready for automatic issuing to construction.

The main challenges for this part of the project were different states of design maturity in the components and an adequate 3D model for construction. Component and part numbering, BOM definition at each lifecycle stage, a central and common catalogue and specification are currently being defined and created. The tool will also be integrated with numerous other applications, including SAP.

As of April 2014, most of the project design and detailed design is ready and the first components are being manufactured. Component arrival will slowly ramp up during 2014 and 2015 and reach full speed from 2016. Initially, only two or three people will be trained to use SPMat, although technical staff, domestic agencies and IO suppliers will be able to access the information via a portal and by running specific reports in SPMat. As the shipping volume grows, new users will be properly trained by the core team as needed.

The next step is to proceed with the implementation of SmartPlant Construction and to integrate the systems.

Inventory management will be integrated with the construction planning before the first on-site installation and assembly start in 2015. SmartPlant Construction will be used to schedule, organize, track and report on assembly activities on-site (machine and systems) by browsing through the 3D model. The technical information and documentation will be centralized and managed using Intergraph product SmartPlant for Owner Operators.

Accurate and effective materials management and construction will pave the way for assembly activities, which have been carefully planned in a schedule that contains 40,000 lines for machine assembly alone. Assembly operations will require 1.5 million man hours extending over a period of four years, before arriving to the crucial point of testing the facilities and the Tokamak. ¦

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