Assembling the machine
The ITER Organization has overall responsibility for the successful integration and assembly of components delivered to the ITER site by the seven ITER Members. This includes the assembly of the ITER Tokamak, with its estimated one million components, and the parallel installation and integration of plant systems such as radio frequency heating, fuel cycle, cooling water and high voltage electrical systems.
The ITER Tokamak is a one-of-a-kind device and one of the most complicated machines ever engineered. Image credit: ITER Organization
Components provided by the ITER Members as in-kind contributions will be assembled on site in pre-determined sequences. The first manufactured components will be delivered to the ITER site in 2014—from that moment until commissioning of the ITER Tokamak in 2019, the order and timeline for assembly events has been carefully planned in an assembly 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 (see related article).
The ITER Tokamak: An engineering and logistics challenge
Thirty metres in diameter and nearly as many in height, the ITER Tokamak will house a large number of sub-systems and components. The size and weight of the major components, the tiny tolerances and careful handling required for the assembly of huge and unique systems, the diversity of manufacturers, the tight schedule ... all of these elements combine to make ITER an engineering and logistics challenge of enormous proportions.
Assembly of the ITER Tokamak will proceed in a "bottom-up" fashion. (See The world's largest puzzle at left.) Beginning with the base section of the cryostat—the single largest and heaviest component of the ITER machine—assembly operations will continue with the lower cryostat components, the nine large, 40° sub-assembled sectors (made up of a vacuum vessel sector, surrounding thermal shields, and two toroidal field coils), and finally the components at the top of the machine.
(See the Japanese version of The world's largest puzzle here.)
Accurate alignment of tokamak components, particularly of the magnet system and in-vessel components, is essential to the successful operation of the machine. Assembly sequences have been planned with this in mind, and will utilize sophisticated optical metrology techniques at each step of the assembly process. Dimensional control will be critical to ensuring that tolerances are adhered, and to recording the "as-built" status of the machine, which will be directly compared against ITER's Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) models in order to correct eventual deviations in alignment before they accumulate.