An automated maintenance, repair and operation management system – TOREX – has been introduced at five Russian NPPs – Balakovo, Beloyarsk, Kola, Rostov and Smolensk. The idea of ​​a system where all information about the maintenance and repair of plant equipment will be recorded was first considered in 2016, said Oleg Shalnov, director of the IT project and integration management department at nuclear utility Rosenergoatom. But after the pilot at one station, it became clear that digitalisation of these processes was not enough: it was necessary to add information about operation, and most importantly, to unify the equipment database. This was a complex task as Russia has many different models and types of reactor – BN fast reactors, RBMK graphite moderates units and VVER light water reactors of different capacities and generations, as well as floating NPPs.

“We spent almost the entire 2019 writing technical specifications and adjusting them to take into account new editions of industry standards. Then, during the pandemic, we started development,” said Shalnov. In February, the system was put into pilot operation at the five NPPs and at the end of October moved to industrial operation.

Now, monthly and annual work schedules for operating personnel are drawn up and agreed upon using an electronic signature in TOREX, says Victor Tsaranu, head of the project office for the implementation of digital solutions at Rosenergoatom. All shift events (reception and delivery, maintenance of shift composition, etc.) are recorded in the electronic operational log – it is part of the system. The magazine can be accessed from any workplace or through an information kiosk. This is a speaker connected to TOREX in a dust and waterproof vandal-proof housing with input and output devices. Kiosks are installed at stations in high traffic areas.

The system also maintains switching forms (lists of personnel actions) for operating personnel and creates schedules and routes for rounds. The employee reads the graphic or radio frequency tag of the equipment with a mobile tablet and sees on the screen the parameters that need to be checked. He or she enters data into the tablet, if something is faulty, takes a photo and writes a note. All information is transferred to the system.

Based on the technological maps, which contain the rules, conditions and timing of equipment repairs, TOREX creates a unit repair plan. The system issues a message about the need to carry out repairs if the deadline has reached or the equipment parameters have changed. The system also generates and automatically registers work orders, and records information about the tools used for maintenance and repair. Tags for the tablet reader are laser engraved on the instruments.

Equipment resource management is also automated. Information about its condition enters the system from sensors of the automatic process control system (APCS) and from walk-through data. The system displays information about the operating time of the equipment – ​for example, the number of opening and closing cycles of the valve or the operating hours of the pump. From the totality of data, the engineering support service draws a conclusion about the residual life of the unit.

The first effect is transparency. The manager can obtain up-to-date information with any detail from the system at any time. “This is a holiday for our financial director, who sees in real time all the information on operating and repair costs,” commented Shalnov. ​“The consequence of transparency is ​increased responsibility among employees. When you know that all your work is visible, you try to be more disciplined.”

The second effect is a reduction in the response time of operating due to faster information for all responsible participants. “The repair programme is also 10–15% faster. Staff have less paperwork and more time to work with equipment. “If you reduce the downtime of a block even by a day, this will already have a good economic effect,” Tsaranu explained.

And finally, the variety of analytics built on TOREX comprises a gigantic database of about 2.5 million pieces of equipment and technological locations (places of work, storage or repair of equipment). The team was faced with the task of developing a unified classification, which in the future will allow us to answer questions about what breaks faster and why, and whether there are any patterns. These findings, in turn, can provide signals to designers, purchasers and suppliers.

TOREX exchanges data with other corporate systems: an automatic technical documentation management system, a qualification support information system where information about training courses is entered, and others – there are more than 20 of them in total. Rosenergoatom calls this set of systems an “operation template”. One of the effects of its implementation is transparent and clear employment planning for Atomenergoremont employees, taking into account their qualifications, accumulated dose load, vacation schedules, etc. “The equipment database is the core to which a variety of functionality is connected, ensuring transparent operation of the nuclear power plant,” Shalnov said.

The period of pilot operation took more than six months, since two problems had to be solved – technical – ​to ensure uninterrupted data transfer, figuratively speaking, to expand the roads along which terabytes of information move – and psychologically, to make sure that the system is used. “At some stations they accepted it immediately. Others were complained and refused because they were used to working in local systems tailored for a specific unit. People thought that the new system was inconvenient and slow.

“However, the communications unit helped explain to colleagues that in our system there is less routine, and you don’t have to run after your boss for a signature. Sometimes they waited longer for this signature than it took to tighten some seal,” noted Tsaranu. “When a unified industry document flow system was first introduced, many rejected it. Now try to take it away. They don’t even look at paper orders anymore. I am sure that the same will happen with our system,” Shalnov added.

The next step is to replicate the system in 2025 at all Russian stations. In the future, they plan to offer it to nuclear power plant customers abroad (Rosatom – ​build-own-operate projects) and other clients in the energy industry.

Image courtesy of Rosatom