Europe is responsible for the production of the nine Pre-Compression Rings (PCRs) which will absorb the fatigue and deformation felt by the ITER Toroidal Field (TF) coils. Three of them will be placed on top of the TF coils and another three below them. An extra set of three will be kept in reserve. A few months ago we announced the
beginning of production, offering a detailed account of the fabrication steps and the material used. Since then, F4E in collaboration with CNIM and Exel have accelerated the speed of production completing already the first of nine. How did we manage to shake up the schedule?
Eva Boter, responsible for the contract with CNIM on behalf of F4E, explains that "the time invested in prototyping and qualification has paid off. After having validated all processes, and carefully examined the production techniques, the fabrication of the nine PCRs became more straightforward." The completion of the first PCR has made way for the proof tests of the second PCR, expected to start this week. The third PCR is also expected to go through machining this week. In spite of the repetitive sequence of actions, there are some delicate steps which require more time. For instance, during machining the fibers of the PCRs can only be cut once in the inner/outer diameter.
In Finland, EXEL is already producing the quantity of pultrude required for the fourth PCR. Angela Hernandez, following closely the work between F4E-EXEL, explains that "the materials we have opted for respond well to the different tolerance tests performed. Consequently, we are continuing production as planned." From the looks of it, six of the nine PCRs will be ready for delivery by the end of this year and by spring 2020 all nine should be completed.
How did Europe accelerate the pace of production? For Alessandro Bonito-Oliva, F4E Project Manager for Magnets, this was partly due to the new strategy devised. "Initially, we started working with one supplier using a specific technology. To maximize the probability of success, we explored in parallel an alternative technology, relying on a distinct supply chain using different materials. The latter has proven to be successful. Thanks to the excellent collaboration with our suppliers and the close monitoring of the development and production phases, we have managed to meet the quality standards and to meet the time schedule for the delivery of the PCRs."
Watch footage below from the production of the PCRs in CNIM click here.