Article

Framatome’s global collaboration leads to custom automated welding solution for customers worldwide

March 23, 2021 | 2 min |
Category: installed base
As part of the research and development efforts at Framatome, experts from France, Germany and North America collaborate on industry gaps and future strategies to advance the nuclear industry. One improvement the Component Repair and Replacement Product Committee identified was the need for faster, more robust and adaptable welding equipment to support emergent repairs for nuclear plant operators – without reliance on external vendors. Following nearly six years of collaboration, testing, and product development, the first industrialized product for Adaptable Welding Equipment (AWE) is ready for field deployment.
 

Introducing a new solution for welding

Framatome’s newly-developed Adaptable Welding Equipment is not simply a tool, but a complete welding system. It comprises everything from its own smart controller allowing remote internet or fiber optic control and use of basic analog power supplies to new weld heads. It is currently configured for narrow groove weld applications, but future adaptations for weld overlays and other repairs are expected. Additionally, the system is designed to use “on-the-shelf” parts that can be procured locally.

With this innovative AWE portable system, Framatome operators have the freedom and flexibility to adapt configurations to meet our customer’s needs and specific context faster than any other solutions on the market.
 

From internal collaboration to industrialization

The development of AWE resulted from significant investment and collaboration from Framatome’s Installed Base Business Unit and Technical Center teams in France, Germany and North America.

Faced with an upcoming need in Canada, the teams advanced the AWE system from prototype to industrialized product, completing the software development, field hardening the weld head and procuring five total systems for use during a steam generator replacement for a Canadian customer.
 

First implementation at customer’s site in August

Currently, all control units, weld heads and software have been finalized and field hardened, and will move into commissioning efforts to support deployment this summer. Craft laborers will be trained on the system in July to support narrow groove welding work on the CANDU reactor’s primary heat transfer lines in August.

Additionally, the system will be used for a U.S. steam generator replacement in the spring of 2022. The system is also being evaluated in France for nozzle inner diameter (ID) repair and traditional welding applications.


Aligning with the Center of Excellence for Welding

The AWE project clearly aligns with the missions of Framatome's Center of Excellence for Welding, commissioned in July 2020. The collaborators for the AWE developed a system that allows for strict application of Framatome’s standards for development and implementation, regional control of the industrial supply chain for materials, and reduced long-term cost for operations and maintenance.

“Research & development is a key part of Framatome’s strategy to deliver innovative and cost-effective solutions to ensure the continued operations of nuclear plants worldwide,” declared Catherine Cornand, senior executive vice president, Installed Base BU. “Our global teams are committed to using their vast expertise to support our customers in the generation of safe, reliable, low-carbon energy.”

 

About Framatome

Framatome is an international leader in nuclear energy recognized for its innovative solutions and value added technologies for the global nuclear fleet. With worldwide expertise and a proven track record for reliability and performance, the company designs, services and installs components, fuel, and instrumentation and control systems for nuclear power plants. Its more than 14,000 employees work every day to help Framatome’s customers supply ever cleaner, safer and more economical low-carbon energy.

Framatome is owned by the EDF Group (75.5%), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI – 19.5%) and Assystem (5%).