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A new tool to evaluate complex tech systems’ efficiency

CERN and a Finnish high-tech company will develop a tool to assess the effectiveness and reliability of a complex system such as the LHC


The new modelling concept combining system description, phase-dependent failure and restore durations and operation schedules at multiple levels. (Image: CERN)

A key challenge in designing a future collider like those being explored as part of the FCC study is ensuring that the operation of such a complex technical infrastructure remains reliable and affordable.

To meet these challenges, CERN has recently signed an R&D agreement with Ramentor Oy, a high-tech company based in Tampere, Finland. In a three-year project, engineers from CERN, Ramentor and other institutes participating in the Future Circular Collider study will develop a tool to assess the effectiveness of different designs and operation schedules for large technical systems.

At first, this tool will be used to create a model of LHC and injector operations that can be validated using actual LHC operation data. This model will then be used directly as additional aid to verify the operation concepts for the High-Luminosity LHC upgrade. It will also be used to develop and refine system behaviour models, and explore a large set of different operation scenarios using a cloud-based setup. Indeed, today, simulating a ten-year LHC operation requires roughly up to an hour. One way of reducing this time is to divide the problem into manageable chunks for cloud computing, and this approach will be taken in the new system.

More specifically, the new tool integrates industry best-practices into model systems and run simulations that take into account the present condition and history of a facility. The simulation considers operation schedules ranging from seconds or months up to the entire lifespan of a facility.

In addition, the new tool will offer users an interactive experience, allowing engineers to receive instantaneous feedback about the performance and operation costs. The user-friendly software ensures that this doesn’t require advanced programming skills.

Such a modelling and simulation ecosystem can also provide benefits for similar large-scale research infrastructures, including particle accelerators and telescope arrays. Since the models, parameters and assessment results will be available in an open data format, the approach will enhance the sharing of knowledge in our community.

This development has already raised interest among leading energy providers: in an effort to make efficient use of resources, this tool will help us to design energy-efficient industrial plants and pinpoint elements in existing industrial installations with the highest potential for cost-effective efficiency improvements.

The project also has significant training value. So far, two doctoral students are actively contributing to this endeavour. The method and tool are now also included in reliability training at CERN, and the activity remains open for further students and collaborators to join.

For more information, visit the FCC website.