The production of Europe’s powerful superconductive magnets has reached its peak with 80% of the components fully completed. The eighth of the ten Toroidal Field coils, under F4E’s responsibility, is ready to get loaded on the vessel that will deliver it to France. Once there, it will wait for its turn to enter the Assembly Hall to join the coils from Europe and Japan. A total of 18 magnets will create the powerful cage to confine the hot plasma. The human endeavour behind this achievement is massive just like the size of the magnets.
To grasp the meaning of this milestone we need to go back nearly 14 years in time when the procurement strategy was masterminded to reach this point. This the outcome of solid collaboration between F4E’s Magnets team, 40 companies and more than 700 people involved from all over Europe.
It all started with the definition of the procurement and technology strategy, continued with the production of protypes to validate the technology, rigorous planning and thorough project management of the different contracts and interfaces. just as Europe was getting ready to transport its first TF coil from Italy to the ITER site, the world came to a standstill because of the global pandemic. But not even that could bend the iron will of F4E, SIMIC and DAHER to deliver the first Toroidal Field coil in ITER’s history in April 2020. Two years later, stepping into new reality making it possible to meet, SIMIC took the initiative to open the doors of its facility to celebrate this achievement, and to present the tooling used during the final manufacturing steps. Representatives from F4E, the fusion community, industry, laboratories and the companies directly involved in the manufacturing of the TF coils gathered to send off the latest one. Around 100 people witnessed the remaining magnets in production and were able to collectively celebrate their contribution. This was not only an event that marked a significant technical milestone. It also marked an important human milestone by bringing all protagonists together.
Marianna Ginola, SIMIC Commercial Manager, opened the event by welcoming guests and took a few moments to look back on the evolution of the project. Then, looking to the future, she put it into context with the latest political developments. “It is a great honour for SIMIC to manufacture some of the most challenging components for ITER. We are contributing to an extraordinary mission to deliver a new energy source for self-sufficient, cleaner and more sustainable future.”
Under the gaze of the 14 m TF coil, Alessandro Bonito-Oliva, F4E Magnets Programme Manager, took the floor to explain Europe’s involvement in ITER, the potential commercial benefits, and more specifically the procurement and manufacturing strategy adopted to produce these complex magnets. “Leadership, trust, collaboration, and decision-making are key in managing such complex projects. As experts, our professionalism to deliver is our main driving force. But when I think of us as people, it’s the passion and enthusiasm of colleagues from F4E, ITER Organization, and our suppliers, which made this long journey meaningful and successful.”
Boris Bellesia, F4E Magnets Deputy Programme Manager, underlined the fruitful collaboration between F4E and SIMIC: “Together we have accomplished some major achievements throughout the manufacturing process: the delivery of the first coil to the ITER project, the optimisation of time in production, and the extremely high level of homogeneity amongst all TF coils”.
Paolo Barbero, SIMIC Project Manager, concluded the presentations session by running through the technical steps unfolding in the SIMIC facility and presented some of the challenges they faced. “The project has made important progress with the eighth TF coil completed, and the remaining two expected early in 2023. We are very proud to have reached this important milestone both in terms of quality and time. We managed to overcome a combination of technical and managerial challenges thanks to our great collaboration with the F4E Magnets team, and all subcontractors. Most importantly, many thanks to the SIMIC teams that worked with such great commitment, competence and effort during the entire project.”
The event closed with a guided tour in the workshop, offering guests the possibility to see the tooling used for the cryogenic tests, and the equipment for the insertion of the winding pack into the coil cases. As production is nearing to its end, this event was the perfect opportunity to remind us of the values of leadership and commitment- both strongly associated with Bernard Bigot, the late Director-General of ITER Organization, whose role was stressed by all speakers.
Europe’s eight TF coil will reach the port of Fos-Sur-Mer in mid-June and will be transported to the ITER site in July. Another coil is planned to be delivered this year with the final one in 2023.