LaSalle NPP Prepares Technicians With Virtual Reality Camera

For the first time, technicians at the LaSalle County Generating Statoin in Marseilles, Illinois, are using a 360-degree virtual reality camera to assist with outage services preparation, which is superseding use of diagrams, photos and drawings, plant operator Exelon said.

LaSalle NPPWhat if you could use a camera to visualize yourself doing a job prior to performing the actual work?” the company asked in a press statement.

Workers at the plant have that opportunity, Exelon said, starting with the Unit 1 refueling outage that began Monday.

A virtual reality camera, which captures high-definition, 360-degree footage inside the plant, is being used for the first time during the station’s refueling outage, the company said. Previously, supervisors used diagrams, photos and drawings to prepare their teams for work being done inside the plant. Use of this innovative technology allows workers to get a 360-view of plant components and systems, which help them visualize and understand the scope of the project before setting one-foot into a designated work area.

Plant Manager Harold Vinyard said the aim was to “perform every task flawlessly.” Use of a camera, he said, would help with training, prevent human error and reduce radiation exposure.

Exelon said it would be hiring more than 1,400 supplemental workers to support the 800 regular employees at the plant. “These additional workers provide a temporary boost to communities in the area with many of the workers staying in area hotels, shopping at local stores and eating at restaurants,” the company added, noting that during the Unit 2 outage in 2015, the station spent more than $52 million with local vendors and payroll for its supplemental staff.

The LaSalle plant operates two boiling water reactors, which are on two-year refueling cycles. Approximately one-third of Unit 1's fuel will be replaced during this outage. Together, the plant produces more than 2,300 megawatts of carbon-free electricity. Exelon's fleet of six nuclear facilities in the state generates 90 percent of the carbon-free power produced in Illinois, the company said.

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  • Anonymous

    I believe LaSalle has always led the industry in using video technology.  Portable cameras were installed in the control room during the plant startup to ensure once in a life time plant evolutions could be captured for future training back in 1981.  Even prior to plant startup videos were made of major equipment and areas that would be inaccessible due to high radiation for training and maintenance activities.        

  • Anonymous

    This is excellent technology to use for these purposes, especially with work planning, pre-job briefings and the like.  We actually were one of the first to use a similar 360 degree camera/video system at Three Mile Island, especially TMI-1 (which Exelon now owns) in the late 80's and early 90's.  I'm sure the technology has progressed since then.  The trick is to make changes along with plant mods, utilize operations and outage video (think scaffolding, work play forms, etc.) which takes effort but is needed to effect this properly over time.  R. Shaw