Digital in nuclear by the SFEN

  • Digital In Nuclear : Work in Progress


    Much more than a gadget, digital is truly changing the industry ways of working, moving towards more collaboration between the production chain links ("supply chain").

    The digital deployment in the nuclear field could increase productivity and competitiveness of the supply chain. The French sector is the first one to have proposed a fully digital control-command system and so has the experience and assets to create these efficiency gains…

  • Why digitalize ?

  • In the automotive and aerospace, industrial process is digitalized for several years, reducing, by 20 to 30% the development costs. Computers increasingly powerful are able to manage a very huge amount of data and to produce extremely detailed analysis, avoiding developing three times the same data.

    Digitalization also allows integrating quickly experience feedback of complete or ongoing projects. EDF teams in charge of EPR-New Model Project, gathers and analyses data from the sites of the Finnish EPR (Olkiluoto), French EPR (Flamanville 3) and Chinese EPR (Taishan 1 and 2) as well as the licensing of the Central Hinkley Point C. The aim is to improve constructability and industrialization of the EPR-NM. Chinese CNNC and CGN developed similar tools for their Hualong reactor.

    Big data, BIM (Building Information Modelling) or PLM (Product Life Management) are revolutionizing the nuclear industry in terms of processes and methodologies. These technologies offer the opportunity to gain competitive advantages and to ensure the operational effectiveness of complex engineering projects, such as nuclear power plants’. In an increasingly competitive environment, these developments are key differentiator factors. But to benefit from these technologies, nuclear actors involved in these projects will have to rethink their development models and organization to face various challenges: new regulatory frameworks, new threats to consider as cybersecurity, new contractual models and markets... This subject will be discussed during a Panel Discussion on WNE chaired by Dominique Louis, CEO of Assystem.

    Digitization is also a way to carry out and develop scenarios without risks or additional costs. OREKA Solutions has developed a software able to simulate all the operations conducted in a nuclear facility (building, maintenance, decommissioning), and therefore, to find the optimal strategy. This is also the idea of the virtual augmented reality 3D model developed by the EDF Blayais NPP (Gironde), AREVA and the Bordeaux University. With an immersive helmet, workers can train before conducting their activities on the reactor buildings components.

    Furthermore, effective digitalization for a safety demonstration facilitates the cases examination by the safety authorities. Thus, the Dassault Systèmes solutions (3DS), dedicated to the nuclear industry and based on 3DEXPERIENCE platform facilitates the projects studies. NIAEP, pioneer in the NPP engineering, uses the 3DS technology to improve the central cycle operation mangement, while meeting the requirements of reliability and safety. Based on a unique 3D model, Multi-D technology developed with Dassault Systèmes, NIAEP teams simulate, before the construction of the NPP, all the processes: design, building, engineering, purchasing and sourcing management, operation, decommissioning ... And can therefore optimize resources.

    NPP cables management also benefit from the digitalization. This complex and repeating process is highly regulated. Mostly managed by a dedicated team with standard office tools, cable management system is reviewed at each project and complicated to change. Inéo ANC, with Dassault Systèmes teams, created Itineo, a cable management and routing software that optimizes routes and track in real time the progress of wiring projects. It takes into account all the rules and specificities of the electrician profession in an ENOVIA environment.  


  • A common future

  • The digital should allow working in real time, transverse manner, with uniform standards. This requires a possible interaction between the tools developed by each player of the supply chain. Otherwise there will be no profit. Industry professionals support data management and continuity on the whole supply chain. As in the automotive industry, the regulatory authority must be part of this system. The automotive regulator approves prototypes digitally. However, in the nuclear field, materials still need to be developed after digital step. If all actors work together with the same tools and data models, the gain will be effective. Some propose to go further, defending a global harmonization of the nuclear standards.

  • A deep transformation of the sector

  • Nuclear power is still producing printed studies and notes. Digitalization will fundamentally push forward the organization, culture, professions by showing new ways to use the facilities, impacting the habits.

    In a sector where professions are structured by disciplines, each responsible for its field design, new professions are emerging, such as the "architect". On the EDF NM-EPR project, the "architect" is an engineer responsible for the overall design and building of a “product” as a whole: responsibility for the design, cost, schedule, constructability, industrialization…

    In the nuclear sector, digitalization affects all domains and professions: trade, production, networks... As a long-term industry, nuclear power must ensure choosing long-term digital technologies. This concern still remains a barrier to change. Digital is not a magic tool. If it is not used properly, it can be a source of issues: proliferation of information channels could also increase costs and undermine the numerical value credibility.


    Digital is definitely going to play an increasingly role in the nuclear industry. France is working on it for several years and has developed tools (3D model, CNC control etc.), proof of its maturity and strong position for future projects.


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