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New building for the Prévessin site

The new Building 937 in Prévessin, inaugurated on 10 November, becomes an additional centre of the BE-CEM group’s activities


New building 937 at Prévessin lab facilities
The CRANEbot in the new robotics lab facility in building 937 (Image: CERN)

The quiet revolution unfolding at CERN’s Prévessin site is paving the way for infrastructure, environmental and public engagement projects for various departments. Among them is the Beams department (BE), whose new building is bringing all the activities of the Controls, Electronics and Mechatronics (BE-CEM) group onto the same site.

Two sections of the BE-CEM group – the Mechatronics, Robotics and Operation (CEM-MRO) and Electronics Production and Radiation Tolerance (CEM-EPR) sections – are of particular interest. Building 937 (B937), inaugurated on 10 November, brings under the same roof the lab facilities for robotics, mechatronics and electronics testing, cable manufacturing and radiation testing, along with offices for the two sections. The building’s open-plan layout facilitates the work and discussions of both staff members and students.

B937 brings added operational value for the long-term activities of BE-CEM, notably by providing the MRO section with a proper infrastructure for robotics manufacturing, testing, accessibility and transport in the field. “What is important from an operational point of view is the entry and exit of robots in an easy way through the dedicated entrance in the lab,” explains Mario Di Castro, MRO section leader. “This was not possible in the previous laboratory, where there were accessibility constraints that could slow down any intervention in the event of emergencies.”

The BE-CEM group provides all CERN accelerators and experimental areas with robots ranging from off-the-shelf robots to large robots on wheels, such as the CERNbot robotic arm and TIM. Preparations of new robotic missions in the context of the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) project, such as the installation of vacuum assembly for experimental area (VAX) modules near high-radiation experimental areas at CMS and ATLAS, the robotic machining of the ATLAS shielding and the remote maintenance of LHC collimators, will take place in the new building.

B937 is located close to Building 927, which hosts an LHC mock-up that is used for robotics activities, making for better synergy between the conception, testing and training of robots.

The new building is of great value not just for the robotics lab, but also for the other facilities of the CEM-MRO and CEM-EPR sections. The BE-CEM group also provides “controls hardware and low level software design, controls infrastructure support and mechatronics for the LHC collimators and beam intercepting devices in the accelerator complex, the transfer lines and the experimental areas; and supports all CERN groups and sectors with electronics production and radiation tolerance testing as well as providing turnkey test and measurement solutions,” emphasises Alessandro Masi, BE-CEM group leader. With all five sections of the BE-CEM group now in Prévessin (B937, B864 and B774), collaboration and workflow will be facilitated within the group, but also within and with other departments.

The B937 project, which included an in-depth strategic review of functional user requirements, was executed swiftly thanks to the close collaboration between the Site and Civil Engineering (SCE) department, project leader Luigi Serio and an external contractor that took on full responsibility for the fulfilment of the project’s requirements.

B937 was designed according to the latest construction standards. It is compact in order to increase its overall efficiency and achieve a low energy consumption through features such as a circulating air unit to limit the use of air conditioning and luminosity detectors to prevent the use of unnecessary artificial lighting. “For projects similar to this one, where requirements can be established upfront, where you prepare a project management framework or methodology and you follow it correctly, it is the most effective, efficient and economical way to implement the infrastructure,” declares the project leader for the building’s construction, Luigi Serio.

By looking at the full life cycle of similar initiatives, from construction to operation, maintenance and long-term impact on the Organization’s activities, returns from experience can guide future decisions on infrastructure projects at CERN.


This article is a part of the series “A quiet revolution is under way at Prévessin”.