In 2018, the EDF group launched Switch, the digital transformation program for nuclear engineering. It is part of the Group’s Cap 2030 strategy. EDF’s objective is, in fact, to initiate a reduction in CO2 by 2030 to achieve a carbon-neutral energy future by 2050. The objectives envisaged by the Group are part of a performance strategy where the preservation of the Planet is combined with the implementation of innovative solutions.
Digital technology is therefore one of the important levers to support the challenge of the transformation of the nuclear sector in France and thus improve performance and competitiveness. Bruno Lièvre, Director of Nuclear Engineering Information Systems at EDF, explains the Switch program to us, its issues and challenges.
What are the challenges of this digital transformation?
Switch is a program aimed at the French nuclear industry. A nuclear slice represents millions of data, thousands of components and a long life cycle of several decades! It is therefore a transformation that concerns above all our practices, our working methods, around the design and construction of nuclear units, and to accelerate it, we are relying on digital capabilities.
What are the next steps and challenges ahead?
We first deployed a PLM (note: Protect Lifecycle Management), the digital solution for managing the life cycle of a product such as a nuclear unit. This PLM constitutes the “backbone” of the engineering information systems, around which the other business applications and tools revolve. As such, we sign long-term partnerships with benchmark software publishers in the industry sector. For us, it is a question of adopting a collaborative mode of operation around data (datacentric) so that our suppliers and partners work directly with our tools (from any geographical site, in Europe).
We are finalizing the first stage of deploying digital services for our projects. For example, we can cite the implementation of a PLM in support of an EPR project under construction, making it possible to federate more than 20 million data (linked together) or even a PLM for the project of new EPR2 reactors, which will be the complete digital twin of the plant. In addition, we have rolled out mobility solutions for manufacturing monitoring in factories and the first secure access to our “3D digital model” for our partners. We are modernizing our information systems by calling on and implementing the cutting-edge technologies best suited to the needs of our users.
What are the next steps for the program?
We are continuing on the same dynamic by preparing, for example, support for the construction sites of the new EPR2s and the massive use of mobility for the various trades, the exploitation of IOT technologies (note: Internet of Things), the development of uses of 4D and the implementation of secure data exchange solutions.
We are deploying digital twins so that they can accompany the unit throughout its life cycle of design, construction and operation while ensuring the protection of our heritage. The subjects are numerous and punctuated by the industrial milestones of our projects.
What types of talent do you want to recruit to advance and succeed in the digital transformation of engineering?
We need more than 70 people with various profiles: enterprise architects, experts in cybersecurity, data, projects managers and product owners. We are particularly interested in people who have experience in other industries such as aeronautics, aerospace or automotive.
We are looking for people who want to take part in this exceptional adventure aimed at building the IS that will support projects in the nuclear field for the coming decades. Integrating the Switch program means making a contribution to this industrial challenge and within the framework of the energy transition.
The role of these future collaborators? Imagine, design the work environment of our engineers of tomorrow and contribute to the in-depth overhaul of our ways of working.
Finally, could you name one of the challenges taken up since the launch of the Switch program and of which the team working there is particularly proud?
One of the challenges in leading this transformation is, for example, to bring together 500 to 600 people from different professions and universes. Since the launch of the program, we have been using SAFe standards (note: the fact of establishing within the same entity a common and fluid language between the different teams working for the development of a common product). These methods bring together all the players (business lines, IS, digital partners) and help to speed up the commissioning of digital solutions.
Article written in partnership with EDF