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Design Knowledge Management across Nuclear Facility Life-Cycle

Nuclear facilities have very long life-cycles over multiple phases and changing operational conditions. In order to ensure safety and economics are achieved and sustainable over the entire life cycle, nuclear facilities must ensure that adequate levels of competency and technical knowledge are available and utilized effectively. The IAEA’s Design Knowledge Management program is designed to assist nuclear organizations to cope with changes in knowledge and capacity, as staff turnover and changes in stakeholder relationships affect the nuclear industry.

Effective DKM will ensure retention, availability and consistency between the initial design, licensing basis requirements, physical configuration, modernization of plant components and accumulated operating experience that are essential to the maintenance of design basis and configuration management.

An effective DKM is supported by modern information technology solutions to ensure that necessary design information and knowledge will always be available as an essential input to decisions related to facility safety, particularly to support design changes that are made over the entire lifetime of the facility.

One of the possible solutions to support effective DKM of a nuclear facility is application of facility (or plant) information models, a concept that comes from the world of the building information modelling and building information models (BIMs) that are currently widely used in building and construction industry. New nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities are being designed, procured, and constructed using modern computer-aided design and engineering systems, multidimensional modelling and design information sources such as data, databases, and electronic documents. This technology forms a computer-based information environment with a digital representation or an information model of the nuclear power plant. As a result, new facilities can be delivered with the plant information model (PIM) that is comprehensive, detailed and able to be integrated into all plant operation systems. These advanced computer technologies provide an opportunity to radically improve knowledge capture, integration and transfer between stakeholders if industry-wide standards and best practices are adopted and knowledge-centric information frameworks are developed, incorporated and widely used.

Plant Information Model

Though current concepts of PIM practices are improving NPP design and design knowledge information sharing, transfer, integrity and turnaround time, there is no real focus on preservation and transfer of the complete NPP design and design knowledge information within and across the NPP life cycle phases. Currently, there are no agreed-upon best practices and industry standards for knowledge-centric well-represented concepts of a PIM for NPP design and design knowledge information sharing/exchange/transfer within and across the NPP life cycle.

To cope with these issues, the IAEA proposed a concept of the Design Knowledge-centric Plant Information Model (DK-PIM), the further logical development of the idea of PIM. DK-PIM can be seen as a PIM, enriched with knowledge resources that incorporate semantics and knowledge services over the whole lifecycle of a plant. Semantic technologies support the integration of all the information available for a single concept. A component may thus be described by e.g. its data sheet, flow diagrams, a CAD drawing, functional descriptions, safety reports and failure probabilities, connections to other components, and operational data. Thereby, rich meaning (“semantics”) is associated to every concept. By addressing the component, human users or informatics applications will have immediate access to all information related to any component. The integration of all information relating to particular resources furthermore facilitates the hand-over of documentation between different life-cycle phases of the plant.

The DK-PIM concept goes beyond the idea of information exchange by driving a standard, enabling and flexible foundational interoperability infrastructure and knowledge-centric framework as an extensible architectural backbone for the exchange/transfer of NPP design, design knowledge, and operating experience information. The exchange/transfer of plant information would occur timely, seamlessly, and sustainably in an understandable, logical, traceable, reproducible and manageable way.




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