Virtual twins for the Aube centres
The Ci2ANum project aims to provide the CSA and the Cires facilities with a digital twin. Designated in early 2022 as the winner of the call for projects under the stimulus plan for industry "Support for investment and modernisation of industry", this innovation will provide Andra's teams with a collaborative interface for monitoring and optimising construction projects or industrial processes at these Andra facilities.
A collective project initiated by Andra, Ci2ANum aims to develop two digital twins of Andra's centres in the Aube region, drawing in particular on the expertise of an engineering group (Assystem) and that of other technological partners (ATFF, ATIScloud, Human Games, SPARTE).
What is a digital twin?
It is both a virtual copy of a physical object (a building, a machine, an industrial process, etc.) and a database containing all the data associated with that object. "It is the digital duplicate of an object that exists or that is to be built. It will enable all the virtual tests to be carried out before carrying out actions in real life, or to use the precise vision it offers to carry out an operation in real life, such as the maintenance of a machine in a narrow room for example," explains Émilie Bernard, BIM manager and coordinator of the Ci2ANum project at Andra. This virtual model thus makes it possible to manage data, ensure its traceability and monitor its evolution over time.
Two digital twins, two different scales
"Nevertheless, developing complete digital twins of the two Aube centres is a complex process. We must therefore proceed in stages. And the Ci2ANum project allows us to implement a first step," continues Émilie Bernard.
Over a period of three years, two virtual copies of different scales will be created in conjunction with the teams in the field: one on the scale of the CSA and the other on the scale of an industrial process commonly used at the Cires.
For the CSA, it will be a model of the entire site: a digital twin that will make it possible to study and optimise various options considered in the context of the design of new storage structures or the construction/modification of buildings. "Any industrial centre evolves. Equipment needs to be replaced, a building needs to be extended... Thanks to the digital twin, we will be able to test different configurations, and even simulate future storage," adds Émilie Bernard.
For the Cires, the idea was to create a digital twin that would specifically concern the scintillation vial treatment process. This operation is carried out in a confined enclosure known as a 'glove box', which can make maintenance work more difficult. With the digital duplicate of this process, operators, who have to perform adjustments and maintenance in this room, will be able to practice in virtual reality and check the necessary equipment. This will optimise the time they spend in the room and reduce any risks.
Method and organisation above all
"The technologies available today - data science, artificial intelligence and virtual reality - allow many advances. But there still has to be an interest. This is why we have to organise ourselves so that each digital twin is useful and adapted to the teams working on our installations," insists Émilie Bernard. It is therefore a project that involves digital skills, but also the various Andra professions that will have to evolve with these future tools.