The UIMM (Union of metallurgical and mining industries) of Poitiers is a training centre of technological industries that trains trainees and apprentices (from professional BAC to engineer)
The trainer, Mr. Brillaud, explainss the work/study training program (sandwich courses) and the role of a technician or maintenance worker in charge of maintaining the machines and robots while using new technologies.
Visit of the workshop and tries on tool machines and robots:
An industrial treadmill allows a good training in maintenance, trainers can for example, create breakdowns in the electric cabinet in order to train apprentices to solve them. The treadmill takes a box and several tubes, the tubes are filled with marbles. The articulated arm puts the tubes in the box and the treadmill brings the finished product to a given point
The training centre has a work room where apprentices in electricity can train on domestic or industrial installations (connections, switchboard, sockets...). For electricity, there is a high voltage transformer like those that could be found in power stations, so that students can train on a situation that could happen. This is only a training tool, so there is little danger for apprentices.
Robots are also present in the workshop, we observed programmable robots: their speed and movements are adjustable. These robots evolve in time thanks to a growing number of sensors. Today, humans can work with robots without danger, if a person presses on the articulated arm, it stops immediately, and this ensures safety for the worker.
We also tried to control a miniature robot, replica of the robots in the Futuroscope attraction dance with robots. Safety rules must be followed to avoid injuries. We tried to handle them directing an articulated arm to drill a balloon. We found activity quite easy. New technologies make work easier.
We discovered virtual reality, we used headphones and joysticks. This showed us the evolution of different technologies. At the UIMM, they are talking about creating a training course available in virtual reality. This is an interesting development, especially when the activity is dangerous, it allows manipulating objects without taking risks, and thus helps reducing injuries.
Tablets are available to help understand how the machines work.
Industry is the design and production of goods with tools of today and tomorrow!
The nuclear power plant in Civaux is a protected and very secure industrial site. The reservation was made 3 months in advance, and the identity documents of each visitor were sent 1 month in advance.
On May 10, we are greeted at the energy space of the plant by 2 guides:
Visit of the pedagogical area: cranking, or pedaling, exposure and explanation of the means to produce electricity.
In the Conference room, the guide explains how a power plant works, she uses diagrams and photos.
Uranium is extracted, processed and enriched; then it is used as fuel and loaded into the reactor; it allows nuclear fission and a chain reaction that frees energy and heats the water. In the primary circuit the water reaches 320 degrees, and then the secondary circuit transforms it into steam which rotates the turbine of the alternator. This movement generates electricity. The cooling pools around the reactors are barriers to radioactivity. The cooling system (chimneys) is used to transform the steam into water which is rejected in the Vienne.
There are 19 nuclear 2nd generation power plants in France. The 1st generation power plants have been destroyed.
Comparison of fossil fuels with renewable energies such as solar panels. Comparison between raw resources and natural resources (wind, Sun)
The EDF plant of Civaux consists of 2 production units: the first was started in 1997 and the 2nd in 1999. The 2 towers need 1m3 of water per second to ensure the cooling of the turbines; This water is taken from the Vienne river. The reactors have a power of 1450 mega watt each. The impact of the plant is important on an economic level: 1200 employees in all + 800 during standstill period.
Visit of the control room Simulator (the brain of the plant): This is the training location for operators (BAC + 5 level)
Operator presence in the control room is compulsory: 8h in a row (the 3 operators take over the 3 x 8 hours and everything runs from the control room.
There's a team of 20 people running on the control room. The operator also needs a field agent who is in contact with the site (level BAC + 2; BTS) + training of 18 months possible if he wishes to become an operator one day.
Description of the command room Simulator:
It is a huge room with several computers and a very large screen with the luminous traces of all the circuits of the plant.
Operators cannot leave the room during their time of attendance, they must know how to work in a team, they stop and start the plant every 16 months, to change the fuels, every 36 months for the partial visit and every 10 years, for the visit and complete overhaul of the facilities. (2 days to stop the power plant and 3 days to restart it.) They must know all the procedures in case of an incident, or in case of emergency. Operators return to training on simulators every 2 years. They re-pass tests and do not have the right to error otherwise they are recycled on another post.
Operators may have been field agents or engineers and then have evolved to the operator position.
If computers fail, the operator must know the procedures or know where to find them quickly on the paper workbooks, and must know how to control the unit manually, He must be able to make an emergency decision and cut the plant ( emergency stop button that cuts all circuits in 2 seconds). There is a retreat room near the control room.
There are 70 trades within a central (administrative, technical, engineering…)
We continue our visit: the controls are very present and very strict in the enclosure of the plant that makes 156 hectares and that works as a mini City: electric cars, audio-guides to hear what our guide tells us because the machines are noisy. We have badges and individual codes to pass the security gates. We cannot take pictures, tests of explosives are made randomly in the group, radioactivity checks are carried out at the entrance and exit of the site.
We visit the demineralization site which allow to avoid the oxidation of the pipes in the circuit; our guide explains the processing of liquid and solid wastes; We see the combustion turbine, emergency unit in case of breakdown or problem, and the building a seismic independent unit to meet the new standards since the Fukushima nuclear accident, it will house another emergency engine fueled by diesel , able to take over the cooling of the turbines in the event of an accident and an electrical outage.
The Civaux plant produces about 20 million megawatt hours per year and feeds the whole region of new Aquitaine.