Three-Dimensional (3D) CAD models are utilized by many designers; however, they are rarely utilized to their full potential. The current mainstream method of design process and communication is through design documentation. They are limited in depth of information, compartmentalized by discipline, fragmented into various segments, communicated through numerous layers, and finally, printed onto an undersized paper by the stakeholders and end-users. Large nuclear projects, such as refurbishments and decommissioning, suffer from spatial, interface, and interreference challenges, unintentional cost and schedule overruns, and quality concerns that can be rooted to the misalignments between designed and in-situ or previously as-built conditions that tend to stem from inaccessibility and lack of adequate data resolution during the transfer of technical information.

This paper will identify the technologies and the methodology used during several piping system modifications of existing nuclear power plants, and shares the lessons learned with respect to the benefits and shortcomings of the approach. Overall, it is beneficial to leverage available multi-dimensional technologies to enhance various engineering and execution phases.

The utilization and superposition of various spatial models into 3D and 4D formats, enabled the modification projects to significantly reduce in-person plant walkdown efforts, provide highly accurate as-found data, and enable stakeholders of all disciplines and trades to review the as-found, as-designed, and simulated as-installed modification; including the steps in between without requiring significant plant visits. This approach will therefore reduce the field-initiated changes that tend to result in design/field variations; resulting in less reliance on Appendix T of ASME BPVC Section III, reduction in the design registration reconciliations efforts, and it aligns with the overarching goal of EPRI guideline NCIG-05.

Beyond the benefits to design and execution, the multidimensional approach will provide highly accurate inputs to some of the nuclear safety’s Beyond Design Basis Assessments (BDBA) and allowed for the incorporation of actual design values as input and hence removing the unnecessary over-conservatisms within some of the inputs.

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