French radioactive waste management specialist Veolia Nuclear Solutions (VNS) and software solution provider Siteflow have formed a partnership to improve the design, execution and functionality of VNS’s remotely operated systems for use in the nuclear industry and other hazardous environments. Siteflow will be employed by VNS UK to support the testing of its latest robotic arm designed as a solution for nuclear maintenance and a future key component in the decommissioning Japan's Fukushima Daiichi NPP.

VNS has been working at the Fukushima Daiichi site since October 2014 including the design and construction of long-range robotic manipulator systems to inspect, repair leaks, and recover fuel debris from unit 2's containment vessel. VNS's first teleoperated robotic arm, with a reach of more than 21 metres, arrived at the site in November after undergoing rigorous testing. It will be used to deploy radiation sensors in locations inaccessible to humans through narrow openings.

Siteflow will to oversee the testing and operation planning for a second, "new generation" robotic arm, which will be used to retrieve physical samples of fuel debris. This second arm will build upon the success of its predecessor with deployment on site scheduled for 2024.

VNS Deputy Chief Technical Officer Simon Delavalle said Siteflow with its user-friendly interface, speed, and reliability, is a valuable tool. “It will guide our engineering teams and operators in developing and operating highly complex equipment at sites such as Fukushima and other hazardous locations."

Siteflow Co-Founder & CEO Louis Hauvette said this is a significant step. “We continue to discover new use cases, and this one is thrilling! We are very proud that Siteflow is being used on a project that constitutes one of the biggest challenges in the history of the nuclear industry."

Siteflow said the partnership with VNS UK represents a significant step in its international expansion as its first contract with a British partner since opening its UK office in November 2022.


Image: Veolia's robotic arm (courtesy of Veolia)