• April 17, 2018

TARM team complete latest stage of major remote handling refurb

A multi-million project to give RACE the capability to start testing the remote handling technologies for the future DEMO fusion reactor has now reached a key milestone.

TARM team complete latest stage of major remote handling refurb

It follows the completion of the first stage refurbishment of the Telescopic Articulated Remote Mast (TARM) – a huge remote handling system – which after being used to perform ex-vessel maintenance on JET is now set for a new lease of life at RACE. The TARM was raised into position in the RACE work hall in March, ready for the next phase of commissioning.

As an important part of its Roadmap to Fusion Electricity, EUROfusion is now conducting an initial conceptual design study of a Demonstration Fusion Power Plant (DEMO), a reactor design capable of demonstrating net production of electricity and operation with a closed fuel-cycle and to be the single step between the International Thermal Experimental Reactor (ITER) and a commercial reactor.

The TARM will offer RACE a highly adaptable robotics test rig for developing remote maintenance technologies for DEMO. In its lowered position the vertical mast still stands at ten metres tall, resting on a new support structure which has taken 18 months to design, qualify, and manufacture in accordance with BS EN 13001 with a safe working load of 42 tonnes.

In the last few months this project has seen a peak workload of 25 employees working together on a large-scale programme of refurbishment and modernisation which started in November 2016.

The first use of TARM in the RACE workhall will see it operate as a development platform for the new adaptive position control system (APCS), developed by RACE engineers. The control system has been tested in simulations, however it will be deployed on TARM as a way to further develop and demonstrate the control of large-scale remote maintenance equipment – handling the dynamic problems associated with manoeuvring large, relatively flexible loads.

Steve Gilligan, Project Manager for TARM, said: “This has been a strategically important project for RACE and for EUROfusion.

“The TARM has to be able to demonstrate how the control system will compensate for the behaviour of a dynamic load such as a blanket module for DEMO, which will weigh up to 80 tonnes. In handling such large components there are key points of the structure that must be stable irrespective of what the remote handling system is doing. It means there are a lot of control algorithms and monitoring systems that we have developed and which will be integrated and tested on the TARM.”

The TARM also provides a test platform which can be used to deploy many other complex end-effectors such as manipulators, robotic arms, snake-like devices, and many more.  These in turn can handle and deploy a wide range of tools to perform inspection, maintenance, disassembly and assembly activities in complex challenging environments, found across many industries.

Steve Gilligan added: “At first, we will develop and demonstrate the APCS, however the new controls architecture is highly adaptable so it can be used for development of other control systems and technologies for projects where you won’t be able to safely send people.”