24 October 2022

Remote handling – applications and upcoming needs at ITER, ESS and CERN

Our Focused Technical Workshop on Remote Handling 2022 proved popular, and gave us a fascinating insight into advanced applications of new remote handling technology, as well as updates about upcoming needs and the industrial expertise ITER, ESS and CERN will be looking for.

Carlos Damiani, Carwyn Jones and Luca R. Buonocore.

The three speakers took us on fascinating digital visits to their research facilities. We were able to explore experiment stations and other areas where materials and maintenance are handled remotely, without human involvement.

Reliable solutions for remote handling are paramount, since the procedures can take place in radioactive environments or extremely confined areas, and may involve the manipulation of heavy or sensitive components.

ITER: “Stay tuned for our call for tenders!”

The span of technologies required in future procurements at ITER is very wide. Carlos Damiani, Programme Manager for Remote Handling at F4E ITER, can see opportunities for SMEs in different areas, typically as subcontractors to main suppliers.

“We definitively need an open and dynamic approach to our collaboration with industry,” he explained. “Effective remote maintenance is key to the ITER success. Stay tuned for our call for tenders!”

ESS: Cask assembly manufacture, stainless-steel waste packages, system development

From ESS, Carwyn Jones, Work Package Manager for Remote Handling Systems within the Target Station, gave us an update on the Active Cells Facility (ACF) and cutting trials. Future needs regarding supplier expertise include cask assembly manufacture, delivery of a variety of stainless-steel waste packages, and system development.

“Remote handling is largely about safety,” explained Carwyn. “We carry out sophisticated tests and train operators, and we’re constantly learning. Once you start operation everything must work.”

CERN: Simulation and best practices

Luca R. Buonocore is a robotic engineer at CERN, in charge of robotic and mechatronic design for intervention in harsh environments. Luca gave us an interesting presentation on simulation and best practices for remote handling at CERN, and demonstrated how small robots can operate in very confined spaces.

“We document all our trials and experiments, to build up a knowledge bank ahead of developing new versions of the machines,” he said. “In the future, CERN will be looking for supplier expertise and skills in fields such as teleoperation devices/sensors, haptics, tooling, mechatronic, modelling, and communication.”