Significant deliverable for electrorefining met remotely

  • Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 5:12 pm

When it’s time to perform factory acceptance testing on a critical technology during a pandemic, what do you do? Since the product still must be delivered, you adapt by monitoring the work remotely.

Pre-pandemic, CNS and NPO staff would have sent several people on multiple trips to observe electrorefining testing. This time, because of COVID restrictions on the number of people allowed in the shop, the project team could only send two representatives.

With limited access and high stakes - electrorefining is key for uranium processing - the project team had to figure out how more of them could view the testing. By purchasing some iPads and communicating via WebEx, the team remaining in Oak Ridge could effectively monitor the testing and communicate with the team members at the vendor’s site. Project manager Steve Cruz said, “We had a learning curve with WebEx, but it was manageable.”

From a conference room in Jack Case Center, the NNSA customer and Production team members were able to monitor the testing that was being conducted across the country in one of Merrick’s facilities. In fact, some team members were able to view the testing from their computers on site or while teleworking.

Cruz thinks viewing factory acceptance testing remotely may be advisable even when travel isn’t restricted. “With remote viewing, staff who only need to see a small portion of the testing can do so without the expense of travel,” he said. The remote viewing also allows parties who are interested to witness the testing, too, which may be helpful to train staff to observe such tests in the future.

Remote testing may have been born of necessity, but the benefits, including reduced travel costs and ease of staff participation, may remain when we reach the “new normal.” Watch this short video (closed captioned version) for more information.

Project manager Steve Cruz

Project manager Steve Cruz participates in factory acceptance testing for electrorefining remotely.