Case Study: Custom Platform Cart for the Nuclear Industry
Located in Scotland, Dounreay became the United Kingdom’s center for experimental fast breeder research and development from 1954 until 1994. Ultimately three nuclear reactors were built at this site and operated by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. In 1998 a decision was made to decommission these facilities and management. A new company Dounreay Site Restoration (DSRL) was formed to handle the decommissioning process. Over the years, DSRL has contracted with several suppliers to provide various equipment and services to complete this decommissioning process.
Evaluation of the Application
As a Tier 2 supplier to DSRL, Electro Kinetic Technologies was engaged to provide a motorized solution on which a containment system would be mounted. Working with one of the primary suppliers to DSRL, our engineering team identified that safety and security were important factors in the design. As materials would be moved into, through and out of the facility, the cart had to be able to navigate some tight turns and inclines.
The containment system, shown to the right in light grey, and the material it would carry weighed approximately 4,000 pounds. Because of the need to have the electronics enclosed in a heavy duty drawer system for easy access, the containment system had to be built with four mounting pillars allowing room for the drawer system. This configuration however, did not allow for the load to be evenly distributed over the cart surface, necessitating additional structural steel to adequately support this weight and allow for the containment system to be secured to the cart.
During the design review with the customer, it was decided that two safety features were needed. One was a bumper system, shown in yellow at left, to stop the cart should the operator collide with an object while moving forward. When the bumper system is engaged, the cart would come to a complete stop and the control system would disengage forward movement. Once engaged, the operator is only allowed to move in reverse and reset the bumper system before proceeding forward.
Another issue that was discovered during the design review process was that the door on the containment system could be opened even if it was not properly docked. To insure that this would not continue to happen, a safety interlock was designed using a magnetic sensor system. A solenoid was used to lock the containment door until the cart is properly docked. To learn more about how this interlock worked, please see the video link provided below.
This particular project mandated that we follow European rules and regulations in designing a motorized solution. In order to ensure that the final product met the exact specifications of our customer, we worked closely with the customer’s own engineering team. We collaborated on the mechanical design to maintain compatibility with the containment system, platform cart, and docking station. The control design teams developed a state transition matrix to confirm that the cart and on board automation performed as planned in the final design.
The final design functioned as promised and worked cohesively with our client’s own proprietary systems. We’ve provided a video below to help illuminate the design specifications for our readers interested in the ease and sophistication of the final product.
Image courtesy of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and NDA
For more information on custom motorized solutions, and Electro Kinetic Technologies’ engineering services, visit our contact page and consult with one of our experts.