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Managing the winds of change

-Krista Dulon

Proposals for modification are written up as PCRs and submitted to one of the two ITER Configuration Control Boards. Here, CCB2 in action. (Click to view larger version...)
Proposals for modification are written up as PCRs and submitted to one of the two ITER Configuration Control Boards. Here, CCB2 in action.
Martin Dentan and Krystyna Marcinkiewicz during the CCB2 meeting last week. (Click to view larger version...)
Martin Dentan and Krystyna Marcinkiewicz during the CCB2 meeting last week.
The 2010 ITER baseline configuration will be THE reference document for the Construction Phase of the project. Currently under finalization, it will be proposed for definitive adoption by the ITER Members at next June's sixth ITER Council.

But even as work continues to complete it, approximately 50 Project Change Requests (PCRs) are in the pipeline for examination or implementation. These PCRs affect one, or potentially more than one, of the baseline documents.

"Projects are never static," says Martin Dentan, Section Leader for Systems Engineering and Configuration Management at ITER. "Change requests will come up throughout the lifetime of the project...that's unavoidable. We've established a process that allows us to reach agreement on a change with every party involved, and to inform all the others about modifications to systems covered by the ITER configuration."

Proposals for modification - whether pertaining to technical scope, cost, or schedule - are written up as PCRs and submitted to one of the two ITER Configuration Control Boards (CCBs). Each CCB has permanent members representing the senior management of all Offices and Departments at ITER, and the seven Domestic Agencies.

CCB1, chaired by the ITER Principal Deputy Director-General (PDDG) Norbert Holtkamp, examines changes having major impact on the project (level 0 or 1 changes). CCB2, chaired by the DDG of the ITER Office for Central Integration and Engineering Eisuke Tada, examines level 2 changes. Following examination by the Boards, PCRs are either accepted for study, endorsed for inclusion in the Baseline, or rejected. For level 0 changes - those with greatest impact — further approval by the ITER Council is required following endorsement by CCB1.

"The aim of the Configuration Control Boards is to decide if the proposed change is desirable, and to make sure that its impact on other systems and on transverse areas such as cost, schedule, risk or safety has been properly assessed and is acceptable," explains Martin. "Since 2005, we've had 240 PCRs. Each time, the initiator of the PCR must provide evidence that all repercussions have been thoroughly examined."

That's something that requires very careful documentation and study. Between the formulation of a PCR and its acceptance in the ITER configuration, depending on the duration of the study, wait time can vary from a few weeks to one or two years.

Krystyna Marcinkiewicz manages the process of PCR submittals to CCB1. "I often feel guilty when asking submitters to fill out the required forms. They're complicated!" she says. "Now we are progressively replacing them by data recorded in a database we have developed. This new tool should make the preparation and management of PCRs much easier. The procedure itself is complex, but for a project like ITER, changes cannot be decided without carefully assessing their value and their consequences, and they cannot be implemented in the ITER configuration without proper control".

"The PCR process at ITER allows changes to be formally introduced and approved into the project," sums up Martin. "The baseline configuration should be thought of as a snapshot in time. Between one iteration of the baseline configuration and the next - further down the road - configuration management is necessary to document and track all project changes."



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