Using a data-centric method for plant life cycle management can help to simplify and standardise nuclear plant design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning.

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Nuclear power plants are hazardous technological facilities comprising hundreds of thousands items of equipment and dozens of kilometres of pipelines integrated in various process systems, spatially separated and located in various buildings and rooms, whose life cycle can be more than 100 years.

Throughout the life cycle, hundreds of enterprises service plant operation, specialists change, equipment is modified or replaced during maintenance, and upgrades are carried out.

Every stage generates an enormous amount of data and knowledge to be used for decision making in subsequent stages. New data and new types of data are also regularly added.

The fact that every stage is managed by different organisations, applying different standards for data management, storage and processing, complicates life cycle management. Every organisation deals with a definite set of data in making a life cycle management decision. These datasets are partly formed in previous stages – so the designer conducts calculations that are not needed at the construction phase, but will be used by the operator.

As a result, knowledge transfer, training, and integrating new technological and IT- systems are very important. The accumulated data must be classified and arranged in a convertible and presentable form accessible to all at every stage, while restricting access for safety and commercial reasons. All the information must be stored and used.

The Russian Federation has developed and partially implemented a worldwide innovative Data-Centric NPP LC Management Technology (including for, but not limited to VVER-TOI project). It includes guidance documents and software packages for storage, access and exchange of process data.

The data centric method provides for more than just unified approaches to designing, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear plants. It also simplifies and standardises the following routine life cycle operations: plant design, modifying design documents and cost estimates; building plants and updating costs based on the results of construction and installation; managing plant configuration; managing lifetime operating data on equipment and pipes; managing repairs and maintenance; ensuring radiation safety; carrying out accident preventing measures; training operating personnel and maintenance specialists; exchanging plant data among contracting organisations; and waste disposal.

Data-centric is a step forward from document-centric information systems for managing engineering data. The change helps store, analyse and present data to support managerial and technical decision- making.

At its heart is an information model containing comprehensive and actual information on the facility. This digital model represents the facility or its elements to an appropriate level of detail and provides for storage, reporting, classification and linking of data according to specific rules. The data are current equipment characteristics and include operating parameters, weight and dimensions of components, types of materials used, topology and the position of components relative to each other, and operating data.

The model allows users to promptly get information on every plant element, with related design, as-built and operating documentation.

An important advantage of the model is that the information it provides can be displayed in an interactive way, including as:

  • 3D models (including stereo mode and virtual reality rooms);
  • 2D general layouts, process flow charts and drawings;
  • 2D and 3D GIS, and map charts;
  • Spherical views;
  • Analytic panels;
  • 4-5-6D models (considering time, resources and labour).

These display modes are synchronised and the user is able to move "seamlessly" through them. The analytical capabilities of the data cross-visualisation are significantly higher than those of conventional approaches.

The plant information model usually begins with 2D and 3D interconnected models created in computer-aided design systems at the design stage. This results in an "as- designed" model. Later, it allows users to detect spatial and spatial-temporal collisions, and simulate and optimise construction.

While the plant is under construction, the model is supplemented with data rom deliveries and works, the as-built survey, laser scanning and spherical views, equipment datasheets and so on. It allows users to monitor and visualise current works, and to train and manage installation personnel, including sub-contractors’ staff. The stage results in an "as-built" model.

At the operating and decommissioning stages, the model is integrated with operating systems, such as automated process control systems, and upgraded online with data from plant components. At these stages the model supports: training; practice for scheduled repair works; inspection;
visual monitoring of maintenance charts; and calculation of nuclear waste arisings.

With configuration data for the entire plant consolidated in the information model, managerial and technical tasks are made more effective.