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Case Studies > ITS Enhances Magnox’s Fuel Tracking System to Meet Plant Modifications

ITS Enhances Magnox’s Fuel Tracking System to Meet Plant Modifications

Magnox, owned by EnergySolutions, is the management and operations contractor responsible for ten nuclear sites and one hydroelectric plant in the UK working for the sites' owner, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

In August 2012, Wylfa Site, based on Anglesey gained permission to transfer partially used fuel from the shut-down reactor two, allowing the site to continue generation into 2014.

With over 16 years’ experience in the nuclear sector, ITS has been working in partnership with Magnox’ team at Wylfa since 1999. Since then we have designed, implemented and supported its fuel traceability system, responsible for tracking fuel throughout its complex process, and as the site’s process has evolved, ITS’ team has also been responsible for updating the system. As a result of the operational changes, Magnox required ITS’ engineers to modify its fuel tracking system, to accurately track fuel throughout its new process.

The operational process at Wylfa is extremely complex so it was important that ITS’ team gained a thorough understanding of the process changes to develop the documentation and perform the code reviews and changes, to ensure that the traceability system met the site’s needs. The project involved ITS’ engineers carrying out a thorough review of the proposed operating modes with Magnox’s project team, to ensure that the modes of operation could be physically used and implemented within the traceability system. This process identified a revision of some modes of operation and hence some database operating rules, and also clarified the modifications required.

Martin Cox, Projects Manager at ITS explains, “We worked closely with Magnox’s project personnel to accurately understand the changes and provided process and system recommendations using our breadth of industry knowledge and technical skills. At ITS, we understand the importance of partnerships and are committed to working closely with our customers to deliver solutions that meet expectations and add value to their operations and processes.”

ITS was awarded the project to modify the rules within the database, and provide additional interfaces and reports, to support the proposed modes of operation and additional combinations of fuel-types, charge-types and routes.

The fuel tracking system is an Oracle-based database which holds the location data of the fuel rods, tracks their movements and stores information relating to the fuel’s history. When fuel movements are programmed, the fuel tracking system checks the programmed rules to ensure the movement is allowed. If it is then the database is updated with the planned movement, and paperwork providing written instructions is automatically produced by the system.

Once the movement has taken place, the database is updated to record the actual movement. Calculations are made on various actual and projected parameters to support the safety case. A variety of reports are also generated.

Martin Cox describes the complexity of the system, “The database operating rules have to cope with a large combination of different fuel types, charge types and routes, and they are implemented in database procedures and the logic in the forms.”

The main benefit for the client is that the plant can now run in the proposed manner, safely and with the level of documentation that meets Office for Nuclear Regulation requirements. The data stored by the fuel tracking system allows Magnox personnel to make decisions regarding safe fuel movements as it accurately tracks the length of time the fuel has spent in the reactor.

Thorough testing was performed, with independent code reviews and testing by the project group at ITS, further testing with the client, followed by installation, commissioning and site testing.

The modifications to the fuel tracking system have been installed and the system is now running, allowing the transition to the new modes of operation. Robin Jones, Magnox, said: “ITS provided a very knowledgeable and professional project team with excellent technical expertise. They offered an excellent response to queries following the project implementation."

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