Think of ITER remote handling as a space mission: once the equipment is launched for a task inside the vacuum vessel or the neutral beam cell there is almost no going back. Like the Hubble Space Telescope or the International Space Station, the tokamak can be "serviced"—but only after meticulous mission planning and task rehearsal. "In terms of mission success," says Alessandro Tesini, ITER's Remote Handling Section Leader, "an ITER Remote Handling task is a one-shot mission. Failure cannot be accepted."
This is why dialogue between the ITER component designers and the remote handling systems engineers is so important. JET taught us an important lesson: components have to be designed so that they can be remotely handled. It is a matter of design process discipline as well as of attitude.
Together with the ITER Remote Maintenance Management System, the ITER Remote Handling Code of Practice, which Alessandro and his team have just completed, sets the background and establishes the rules for such a dialogue. Both documents "... give the essence of what remote handling is, what it can do and how it can do it." They also provide the designers with a tool and a set of data sheets to help design the components in a "remote handling-friendly" way.
"What we have to instill in the designers' minds here at ITER and in the Domestic Agencies is component design simplicity," says Alessandro. "The simpler the component, the simpler the related remote handling equipment and operations. Simplicity provides a guarantee of reliability, which in turn gives you an acceptable machine availability factor."
ITER will be "one of the most complicated machines ever built" and a nuclear installation at that. "This means we are not allowed to make mistakes," says Alessandro. But the Leader of the Remote Handling Section has no fear: "ITER remote handling," he assures, "will work like clockwork."
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