Innovation is difficult at the best of times, and especially so in aging nuclear power plants. Complex maintenance tasks and modifications are squeezed into stressful outage timeframes, where any delays or inaccuracies can be costly. mCloud is leveraging 3D technologies to reduce risk during outages and provide some relief to those working to get these critical plants back online.
After considerable analysis and several pilot projects, we’re proud to introduce mCloud’s 3D Digital Twin for condenser tube sheets. Inspecting and managing condenser tubes in water boxes is a labor-intensive task completed during time critical outages. A 3D Digital Twin can save up to 60% on inspection time, enabling other tasks to be accelerated as well.
How It Works
Nuclear power plants draw in water from an outside source for cooling. That cooling water flows through condenser tube sheets to exchange heat and those tubes sometimes become damaged, corrode and leak over time. Damaged tubes are no longer used and must be plugged. These plugs must be verified over time to ensure sure they are still in place and new plugs may be added as required.
During each outage, workers maneuver down into the box the cool water flows into and inspect each plug with the naked eye — using photos, pen and paper to document the condition of existing and/or missing plugs . Tubes are then tested electrically to determine where new plugs are required. It’s a complex process which can be further complicated by other workers performing repairs in the tight water box space at the same time.
The manual inspection process takes up to a week in the water boxes themselves. Failed tubes or missing plugs require repairs, and then the documentation is updated. If the initial records from previous inspections are missing or questionable, the inspection and repair process may take longer. In many cases, the documentation is re-created each year.
Eliminating Human Error
The mCloud solution provides workers a quick and easy alternative. The 3D Digital Twin is produced by conducting 3D scans of the condenser tube sheets in all of the water boxes, which takes just 8 hours — basically a single shift. mCloud then registers, or “stitches” the scans together, automatically counts and verifies the plugs and creates a drawing. These drawings shows plug data in an easy to follow, color coded representation.
This process is performed at the beginning and end of the outage in order to maintain documentation and accuracy of new plugs added or replaced during the outage. The result is an accurate digital record — 3D Digital Twin — of the condenser tubes, which is accessible anytime to support planning for the next outage. Downtime is reduced significantly not just for the first inspection, but for subsequent outages as well.
This is a first in the nuclear industry, and just one way in which mCloud is bringing 3D technology solutions to nuclear customers, allowing them to benefit from AI and automation in new ways.
To learn more about this service, or other ways mCloud can help optimize your operations, click here to receive a call from one of our representatives.