divisions. To avoid 50 cumbersome dialogues, Dr.
Lorenz’s team created a materials manager function
in each division that helped all teams create forecasts for materials procurement, Dr. Lorenz says.
;is tool came in handy often.
For instance, the reactor’s plasma vessels required
specialized low-cobalt steel so the vessels wouldn’t
magnetize and become radioactive when the reac-
tor ;res up. Teams had to be taught to place steel
orders before design was completed—often a year
in advance—to ensure availability and on-time
arrival. Without the aggressive procurement plan-
ning, the average delay for each project would have
been six months, Dr. Lorenz estimates.
“One of the biggest roles of project coordination,
I would say, is to try to have project leaders’ heads
above the short term and always looking to the long
term. What’s coming their way in one or two years?”
By improving resource management processes,
the teams also learned to optimize schedules and
realized how a delay on one task had the potential to
create a domino e;ect that would wreck the overall
timeline, Dr. Lorenz says.
For example, when technicians install the intricate X-ray camera system inside the plasma vessel
for the second phase of operation, everything will
have to be perfectly aligned. ;e project leader
met with technical specialists such as welders and
electricians, and then summarized the ;ndings in
weekly team meetings. ;e knowledge gained from
those meetings convinced the project leaders to
order trial welding on a mock-up vessel section to
;ag any surprises that would impact the timeline or
quality of the work. ;e trial lasted about two weeks
but was scheduled early enough to not impact the
“We must avoid the ‘learning by doing’ e;ect when
standing in the vessel in cramped conditions,” he
nuclear reactor program launches.
for production of
2003: The first superconducting coil arrives.
2005: The plasma
vessel is assembled.
2009: Cryogenic tests
coils are successfully
2010: First section
of the water-cooling
system is completed.
2013: The magnet
system is completed.
2014: Welding completed on outer vessel
and all reactor construction completed by
end of the year.
Helium plasma is produced during first test
Primary goal is
achieved when a
stream of hydrogen
plasma is produced.
March 2016: First
operations phase successfully completed.
The phase included
more than 900
“A number of
interest in project
so we tried to help them
understand the challenges
ahead and open their eyes.”
—Axel Lorenz, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Plasma
Physics, Greifswald, Germany
superconducting feed lines
to the superconducting