Publish on 26/07/2019
We usually think of testers as people who operate the machines used for functional tests on plant equipment. But within the wider testing job family, there is a key role that people know a little less about: test analysis engineer. Nadia and Caroline talk about how they are passionate about their role, and how they are more determined than ever to make a success of the hot functional tests, a kind of dress rehearsal for plant operation.
Nadia and Caroline are engineers with a lot in common. Both studied nuclear engineering, and both have a solid technical background thanks to their previous experience at EDF’s engineering centres. In 2017, both became test analysis engineers, a little-known but essential role in the successful conduct of the startup tests for the EPR.
“My role involves collecting and analysing all the data and results from the different tests carried out on site in preparation for the second stage of the hot functional tests,” explains Nadia. The key word here is “integrator”. “Integration and technical analysis of all this data enables us to determine the ability of the plant to enter the major operational testing phase,” she adds. Some of the figures involved can be quite startling. For example, Nadia and her team reviewed and analysed around 1200 test result sheets during the preparatory phase for the hot functional tests – a mammoth task requiring close cooperation with all of the different crafts involved, to ensure the quality and pertinence of each test result.
“All this work will come to fruition with the start of the second stage of the hot functional tests, which will be validated by a regulatory commission, which we are currently preparing for. We will present our analysis work to the commission so that the go-ahead can be given for this major testing phase,” adds Nadia. Her work doesn’t stop there, however: she will also be involved, throughout the duration of the hot functional tests, in analysing the various test results, which will then be shared with the regulator.
Caroline is in the same role, but has slightly different tasks. Within the scope of hot functional testing, she is responsible for the preparation, execution and analysis of specific tests. “When we test the operation of the plant, we run a multitude of scenarios to ensure that all of the systems will correctly perform their function to guarantee the safety of the reactor,” explains Caroline. During the hot functional tests, for example, she will be shutting down different parts of the EPR instrumentation and control system in order to test the different operation modes and plant behaviour when part of the equipment becomes unavailable. “These tests will be carried out in a three eight-hour shift cycle, and have taken several months to plan, particularly on the simulator,” adds Caroline. Like Nadia, it’s the opportunity to collaborate with the wide range of different crafts involved in the tests that makes her job such a rich experience. “We are fortunate to enjoy a genuinely good team spirit, which is a prerequisite for success,” she concludes.