Test cen­tre:

ATS build­ing fa­cil­ity to aid nu­clear plant re­fur­bish­ment

Waterloo Region Record - - FRONT PAGE - Brent Davis, Record staff

CAM­BRIDGE — When you’re tack­ling a multi-year, multi­bil­lion-dol­lar re­fur­bish­ment of the largest op­er­at­ing nu­clear plant in the world, there’s not much room for er­ror.

That’s why ATS Au­to­ma­tion Tool­ing Sys­tems is con­struct­ing a nearly 44,000-square foot fa­cil­ity at its Cam­bridge cam­pus that will house an ex­act replica of some of the in­fra­struc­ture found at the Bruce Power plant near Kin­car­dine.

In­side what will be called the Ma­jor Com­po­nent Re­place­ment In­te­gra­tion Fa­cil­ity, ATS will be able to thor­oughly test its au­to­mated tool­ing sys­tems be­fore they’re de­ployed on the real thing.

“It takes a lot of the risk out,” ATS vi­cepres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager Eric Wal­lace said Thurs­day as of­fi­cials gath­ered to break ground for the fa­cil­ity.

The test­ing fa­cil­ity builds upon a mul­ti­year con­tract inked last year for the sup­ply of ATS’ au­to­mated tool­ing sys­tems and re­lated ser­vices to the Bruce project. Ini­tial or­ders had a value of at least $40 mil­lion.

“We’re ex­cited by the grow­ing part­ner­ship,” said ATS chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­drew Hider.

The ex­pan­sion onto an ex­ist­ing ATS build­ing will in­clude a large stag­ing area and an 11,000-square foot area that will house the mock-up of the re­ac­tor faces where the tool­ing sys­tems will be de­ployed.

“That’s the part where all the ac­tion hap­pens,” Wal­lace ex­plained.

It will be an impressive space, stretch­ing nearly 13 me­tres (42 feet) from the floor to the un­der­side of the joist, with 3.5-me­tre (12 foot) cool­ing pits be­low ground. Col­umns and plat­forms will all be iden­ti­cal to those in the Bruce Power re­ac­tor vaults.

The multi-year, $13-bil­lion project to re­fur­bish six of eight Candu re­ac­tors at the Bruce site re­quires a lot of equip­ment and tools to be taken in and out of the vaults.

The ATS tools must be able to in­ter­face with other tools and re­ac­tor com­po­nents; the mock-up is in­tended to per­fect the tools and iden­tify any po­ten­tial flaws be­fore the ac­tual work be­gins and costly de­lays are in­curred.

The fa­cil­ity will in­clude about 6,000 square feet of of­fice space that vis­it­ing Bruce Power staff can use as the project con­tin­ues. The test­ing fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to be ready next spring; the re­fur­bish­ment project gets un­der­way in earnest at the Bruce site in 2020 and is in­tended to pro­long its life through 2064.

Bruce Power pro­vides 30 per cent of On­tario’s elec­tric­ity.

Wal­lace said ATS will have a use for its new space even af­ter the spe­cific Bruce project is com­plete.

The tool­ing sys­tems — which Bruce Power chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mike Rencheck said are “like sur­geon’s tools when they’re op­er­at­ing” — are typ­i­cally con­trolled by tech­ni­cians from a re­mote room. That in­creases safety and re­duces ra­di­a­tion exposure.

The ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy that ATS is bring­ing to the ta­ble “will al­low us to com­plete our projects on time and on bud­get,” said Rencheck.

Sim­i­lar ATS tool­ing sys­tems are also in use at the re­fur­bish­ment project un­der­way at the Dar­ling­ton nu­clear sta­tion east of Toronto, noted Eric Ki­isel, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of the en­ergy group at the Cam­bridge-based com­pany.

Sev­eral other Cam­bridge com­pa­nies are in­volved in the Dar­ling­ton and Bruce Power projects, in­clud­ing BWXT Canada and Ae­con Group.

ATS, founded in 1978, em­ploys about 3,500 peo­ple at 23 man­u­fac­tur­ing plants and 50 of­fices in North Amer­ica, Europe, South­east Asia and China.

BRENT DAVIS, RECORD STAFF

ATS Au­to­ma­tion CEO An­drew Hider, left, and Bruce Power CEO Mike Rencheck took part in a ground­break­ing cer­e­mony at Thurs­day.

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