Teams from REACT Engineering and Createc overcame working remotely through the
COVID-19 lockdown to complete their pioneering system.
REACT Engineering owned the problem, and worked with Createc on the technology
which would help provide the solution. Both companies have proven experience in
solving some of the world’s most complex industrial challenges.
The result is ALARP Angel technology which allows a task to be fully defined, planned,
rehearsed and executed in a dynamic highly hazardous environment.
The ALARP Angel software, which maximises operations and minimises risks, makes a
task safer, faster, and cheaper to deliver, and can be used in a range of environments
across different industries.
The system, developed in a tight 12-month timescale as part of an industry challenge,
gives added value by covering the full lifecycle of a project - the characterisation of an
environment using a range of high-tech tools, training in VR and, if appropriate, a mock-
up environment, and live real-time monitoring while a task is executed
All the information is stored electronically in the ALARP Angel software and the way of
working means risk to operators is minimised as:
*hazardous environments have been fully characterised using the latest high-tech tools
*full training has been carried out without entering the hazardous environment - by using
VR technology and mock-up environments where appropriate
*live-monitoring technology means any change in the environment is communicated
from a supervisor to an operator via a wearable device while they are carrying out the
task which leads to faster, fully-informed decision making
Costs are kept down because the tasks can all be rehearsed in virtual and mock-up
And operations are maximised because with the live information available from the
supervisor throughout the task the operator is able to concentrate on executing the
job, and if there’s a change in environment, exit or switch to another, safer task.
ALARP Angel can be modified to address any measurable or location-based hazard,
making it applicable to a wide variety of scenarios in a range of industries.
It can independently track multiple operators in a busy environment using Createc’s
SLATE technology developed for the Ministry of Defence. And it can also track
operators at any working height.
In the nuclear decommissioning environment characterisation is carried out using
Createc’s proven N-Visage® system which has been commercially deployed at
Sellafield in Cumbria, and extensively at the Fukushima Daiichi site in Japan.
The ALARP Angel technology has been developed through a Small Business Research
Initiative (SBRI) to protect nuclear decommissioning operators.
The competition, organised by Innovate UK and funded by Sellafield Ltd, was run in two
stages with the final stage being concluded after COVID-19 lockdown.
Five team members from REACT Engineering and seven from Createc worked together
on the programme as a combined team
Chris Woolhouse of REACT Engineering, who led the project, said: “The funded
competition gave the two companies - REACT Engineering and Createc - the
opportunity to collaborate and use the skills and expertise within both companies to
develop this technology.
“The focus of ALARP Angel was to create a platform for managing tasks and easily link
different technologies throughout the lifecycle of that task.
“We also wanted to make sure we used flexible technology which is just as applicable in
other industries, such as oil and gas, nuclear decommissioning, military, or any
emergency response where individuals are at risk from potential hazards.
“With the live real-time monitoring, using the connected operator principle taken from
the military, a supervisor is able to see inside the environment and inform the operator
to ensure they stay safe from any changes which occur.
“Because the environment has been fully characterised, and because the operator has
been able to use VR and mock-up environments to rehearse how they will work in the
space, any new information in the live environment is kept to a minimum.
“In a high hazard environment the operator may be wearing PPE, or they may be in a
noisy or hot environment, so it’s important to allow them to concentrate on carrying out
the rehearsed task with minimal distractions. Wearable technology means they can also
have simple, easy-to-follow, and well-rehearsed instructions of how to carry out the task
on their devices.”
David Clark, Createc’s operations director, said: “Through characterisation, planning
and training, the ALARP Angel software enables people to work in a way which
minimises risk and optimises efficiency of carrying out tasks.
“It’s about planning tasks and training people to carry out those tasks in a way which is
safer, faster and cheaper.
“By using VR technology within the system operators are able to experience the
environment and ‘see’ the hazards and rehearse them and learn how best to move
around that space.
“It also allows you to train for a series of ‘what if’ scenarios, by rehearsing for different
events, so operators are fully trained and able to respond effectively to a range of
changing situations without the need to enter the hazardous environment until they are
carrying out the task.
“When the task is being carried out, the live real-time monitoring allows operators to be
tracked around a facility.
“In a civil nuclear environment ALARP Angel means operators minimise dose time and
execute the task in the most efficient way possible.”
The COVID-19 outbreak meant the programme needed to be completed after lockdown,
which created an extra challenge for the teams.
Chris said: “With everyone self isolating we had to complete the testing and
demonstrating in lockdown while working from home.
“Because both teams work on projects all over the world we are used to using the latest
technology to work remotely and we actually finished the final phase ahead of schedule,
which is very satisfying.
“The feedback from the Sellafield client has been very positive in what both companies
have delivered in terms of value in such a short period of time.”
A demonstration event for the ALARP Angel technology for stakeholders and interested
businesses and organisations had had to be postponed due to COVID-19.
But plans are in place to hold a virtual demonstration event. In the meantime those
interested in the technology can access a video online https://vimeo.com/413873645 and
are asked to contact Chris Woolhouse or David Clark at REACT Engineering and
Createc respectively for further details.