Replacing the binder21 January 2011
Instead of trawling through paper-based reference manuals, which are usually stored in binders, operators of Europe’s new EPR reactors will be able to look up operating procedures on their computer terminal. By Andreas Hillmann
Traditionally, nuclear power plants use paper-based operating and testing procedures, which fill a large number of binders. Finding a specific piece of information in such a comprehensive document can be time-consuming and cumbersome.
To overcome this problem, Areva is producing electronic operating procedures (eOPs) for the Olkiluoto 3 EPR, under construction in Finland. eOPs can be introduced into the EPR (and other Generation III+ reactor designs) due to the reactor’s screen-based main control room.
The electronic format allows operator instructions (including text and graphical elements) to be displayed on the operator workstations in the control room. The traditional paper manual serves solely as a back-up solution.
eOPs provide added functionality like direct linking and display of real-time plant values, and they can also be integrated seamlessly with the operational instrumentation and control (I&C) systems.
Integration with operational I&C
The eOP system for Olkiluoto 3 is an add-on to the operational instrumentation & control system, but it has been designed to appear as an integral part of the human machine interface (HMI) to the operator. Being an add-on system, eOPs can be used for other new builds and be adapted for existing plants. (Areva also offers a solution that is integrated into a specific operational I&C, and this will be used at France’s Flamanville 3 EPR.)
The electronic operating procedures run on their own computer (the eOPs server)—which is independent from the operational I&C. The server provides all data and software (web server, database system, customized web browser) required to display the eOPs on the operator workstations. To display documents on the operator workstations, the eOP server is connected to the terminal bus via an interface of the plant’s operation and monitoring system.
The eOPs are able to display real-time values of selected process parameters (for example primary pressure and temperature). These values can be displayed in the step programmes of system and alarm operating procedures and in detailed instruction modules of the eOPs if needed. However, as the eOPs are linked to the operational I&C as an external system, access to the process parameters is granted in a read-only manner. The real-time parameters are checked at reasonable time intervals to ensure the operator has access to the most up-to-date information. This allows the operator to quickly compare set points defined in the operating procedures with the actual values present in the plant.
There are a number of different ways to access the electronic operating procedures.
The eOP table of contents can be accessed through the operational I&C’s system menu. The table of contents opens in a new browser window and the required chapter can be selected. Alternatively, link buttons on the process displays of the operational I&C can be used to navigate directly to the applicable chapter in the eOP.
Alarm sheets can be accessed directly via the alarm sequence display (ASD). Operators can click on the plant code of an alarm on the ASD to display the related alarm sheet right on the preselected monitor.
Navigation and layout
The operating procedures consist of different parts, chapters and sections. Strategy flowcharts are provided as scalable vector graphics. Text-based content like the table of contents, system-related step programmes, detailed instruction modules and alarm sheets consist of enhanced HTML files.
Hyperlinks allow users to jump between different sections or chapters of the operating procedures. Hyperlinks appear not only inside text-based content, but also in the strategy flowcharts, where they usually open the associated detailed instruction modules.
The operator can navigate within a document either by scrolling or by using the table of contents to move to sections or subsections. Headers for sections and subsections link back to the document's table of contents.
The layout of the electronic operating procedures is optimized for viewing in an internet software browser. In contrast to paper manuals, which has to deal with the limited size of physical paper pages, a textual chapter of the eOP is represented by one continuous HTML document.
Check boxes are provided in instructions and strategy flowcharts so that operators can track the progress of actions. Ticked boxes are shown on every workstation. It is also possible to continue ticking boxes in a procedure on a different workstation; for example, a turbine operator could continue a process begun by a reactor operator.
Andreas Hillmann, PEPM-G Plant Operation Manuals, AREVA NP GmbH, Henri-Dunant-Strasse 50, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
|Advantages of eOPs over traditional paper-based manuals|
Improvement of plant safety by better information-gathering and interpretation