SAFIRE – A Robotic Inspection System for CANDU® Feeders
9th International Conference on CANDU® Maintenance - 2011 December 04-06

Presented at:
9th International Conference on CANDU® Maintenance
2011 December 04-06
Toronto, Canada
Session Title:
Inspection Tools Session B3

Rob Buckingham (OC Robotics)


The condition of primary circuit feeder pipes in CANDU reactors is relevant to the commercial viability and plant life. One known wear mechanism is external fretting between feeder pipes and adjacent services or support structures, particularly within the Upper Feeder Cabinet. Fretting leads to wall thinning which must not exceed certain agreed limits. Chafe shield have been added to protect the feeder pipes. Regular inspections are required of the chafe shields, feeder pipes and other structures that may cause feeder damage.

Historically the dose received by inspectors conducting this work has been significant. For this reason Ontario Power Generation has invested in a remotely operated robot system to conduct visual inspections within the UFC. This system, called SAFIRE, has been deployed atPickeringduring 2010 and 2011 and has been used to inspect areas that are extremely difficult to inspect with existing manual techniques. The 2011 scope of work included inspection of a total of 660 feeder pipes in three UFC quadrants, in two reactors. The full scope was completed over a month long period in Autumn 2011 in which SAFIRE was used during 23, twelve hour shifts. This included two periods each of 72 hours of continuous operation.

SAFIRE is remote controlled delivery system for multiple cameras to record still images and video. The main system elements include a snake-arm robot mounted on a mobile vehicle. It can be controlled from up to 500m away using a fiber/copper connection. The snake-arm is 2.2m long, 25mm wide and has 18 degrees of freedom. It is designed to snake between the rows of feeder pipes to inspect feeder/hanger interfaces, both above and below the feeder cabinet catwalks. Future upgrades offer the potential to add additional tools to increase functionality.

This paper describes the SAFIRE development process from inception to operational experience gained during the 2011 outages. The paper concludes with an assessment of the quality and value of the data collected.

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