In the August 2008 issue of the ITER Newsline, we reported on efforts in the Design Office to streamline design activities between ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies in order to meet Procurement Arrangement schedules in the timeliest manner.
"The ideal," says Eric Martin, Design Office Head, "is to have a global design office." That is, dedicated design teams from the Domestic Agencies able to work in real time on the same projects as their ITER colleagues. Excellent progress has been made toward this goal, with the launching of the first pilot database sharing tool last November at the US Domestic Agency in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
In the past—for distances of under 1,500 km, and depending on the network—it was possible to work live on design solutions from two different offices. For distances exceeding 1,500 km, however, the process was slow and best suited to clearly defined projects only. It was necessary to copy and export the design files, and simultaneous work on the same file was not possible. Today, the ITER Design Office is on the verge of promoting a new tool.
The Computer-Aided Design (CAD) data is saved and managed in a database called ENOVIA, very much in the same way that all-ITER saves its files in IDM. Database updates will be made regularly by ITER and the Domestic Agencies over a powerful collaborative network that works across very large distances, keeping all parties abreast of even the smallest change.
The need for such a tool is obvious. The ITER design includes some 10 million individual parts—half for the Tokamak alone. Interactions between these parts make the technology very complex. Without a high-performance CAD tool that allows the active participation of the Domestic Agencies, design work would be impossible. "Especially when you take into account all the frequent changes and iterations," says Eric.
About 90 contract designers have recently been hired from four different companies. Work is currently focusing on the ITER cryostat, but there will be a great need for outsourcing work for other machine components, and deployment of ENOVIA to all seven Domestic Agencies is a priority. To this end, a CAD Collaboration Team has been formed, led by Eric Thomas on the ITER side and Dave Williamson, Daniel Ciarlette and Ron Sheldon on the US ITER side.
"The interest in the Domestic Agencies is great, and we are going to help all we can by sharing the experience acquired in the pilot US program. In the future, design collaboration will be like a huge tree, with each agency managing its own CAD design staff, as well as outside contractors," predicts Eric. return to Newsline #76