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RAMI, or thinking ahead
Although the ITER site still looks like a sandy plain with lots of machines working to level the platform, some people within the ITER Organization think ahead, way ahead ... about 10 years to be exact, when ITER will be up and running!
Didier van Houtte's primary responsibility, as Senior Project Coordinator for RAMI in the Project Office, is to make sure that all the systems of the ITER machine will be reliable during the operation phase and maintain their performance under operational conditions with the best possible availability.
The RAMI process, which is based on a functional analysis and a FMECA (Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis) approach, aims to ensure that at all times, the ITER machine is
Reliable (continuity of correct operation) Available (readiness for correct operation)Maintainable (ability to undergo rapid repairs and modifications)Inspectable (ability to undergo easy visits and controls)
Failure of only one small function might result in the machine being halted for long periods of time and result in high costs for repairs and replacements. It is therefore important that every system undergoes a risk analysis to evaluate WHAT can go wrong, WHERE, and WHEN, and to recommend spare components, back-up systems, increased frequency maintenance schedules, systems design optimization etc., to reduce the risk of a main function breakdown to a minimum.
The RAMI approach allows small expenditure on a critical function failure, instead of large expenditure on a unreliable component of a not very important function, while achieving the same result in term of machine availability.
The analysis of all these systems must of course primarily be carried out in the design and procurement phase of the project to make sure RAMI requirements are taken into account when the systems and their critical spare parts are manufactured.
So these are busy times for Didier, soon to be assisted by additional staff for RAMI. He also works with contractors and Domestic Agencies on some of these specific issues.
Before coming to ITER, Didier worked for Tore Supra where he started in 1986, and was the Head of Operations for 10 years. "One of the fascinating parts of my job here is that I get to work in all the technical fields with all the departments and all the Domestic Agencies. I really enjoy having the opportunity to think ahead to failures that could occur during ITER operation, after having been constrained to do many repairs on certain subsystems of Tore Supra during their operation and construction, which gives me a very broad and interesting perspective on the future operation of the ITER machine."
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