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POLARAudio / biamp Products Installed in Nuclear Reactor Simulation Facility

British Energy recently commissioned Carillion Communications to create a bespoke audio-visual simulation facility at their Sizewell B plant in Suffolk. Sizewell B power-station has the UK’s only large Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) and is capable of supplying around two million households. The station supplies 3% of the UK’s entire electricity needs and employs over 500 staff.

The audio-visual installation extends over several working environments, a control room and one large plant area.  The requirement was to create a simulated working environment with the ability to re-create real-life operations and possible problems under the close scrutiny of the Sizewell training team.  The brief included the capability for two-way communication within the training environment and the capacity to record and playback the results of the training to the staff, providing a powerful input into debriefings and enabling the trainers to identify precise areas where improvements in working practice could be made. 

Carillion Communications worked closely with Polar Audio to specify a quality, cost-effective solution for the specific requirements of this unusual installation.  The system specification included two zones of 100V line paging, a stereo source input channel, eight microphone channels and a selection of active and passive loudspeakers.  The audio was controlled and configured by installing a fully loaded Biamp AudiaFlex DSP Mainframe with Cobranet®, incorporating five IP2 dual input cards and seven OP2 dual output cards.  The system uses the Biamp NPS-1 (Network Paging System unit) which connects directly to the AudiaFlex via Cobranet® and allows each training room to be paged individually. 

Daniel Fattorini, Senior Consultant at Carillion Communications commented “The Biamp AudiaFlex gave the ultimate flexibility at the heart of this system with its audio routing and processing. It allowed us to perform two-way communications, paging, effects processing, PA routing and control and the provision of a broadcast quality mix for recordings. The inclusion of Cobranet® and the NPS-1 allowed for a trouble-free installation as well as lots of options for future expansion

Installed in the control room were other Polar Audio products including, Blue Sky Sat 6.5 active loudspeakers which are specifically designed for high quality monitoring, whilst the training rooms and plant area use Renkus-Heinz CFX121 Speakers, powered by a bank of Dynacord PCL Amplifiers.  Carillion Communications also specified Beyerdynamic Ceiling Microphones and a Beyerdynamic Opus 900 radio microphone system to ensure exceptional audio quality coupled with freedom of movement and ease of communication.

Matthew Buck, Carillion Communications account manager at Polar Audio commented on the installation, “Although at first impressions the specification of a Biamp AudiaFlex DSP frame with a Cobranet Paging system appears not to be the most cost-effective solution available, the pre-installed Cat5 wiring infrastructure at Sizewell allowed simple installation of the NPS-1 and negated the need for what would otherwise have been a labour intensive re-run of cables; The result was a significant saving in man hours”.  Matthew added “Carillion executed the installation with outstanding attention to detail; we worked closely to ensure that the client received the best value for money by integrating the very latest technologies”. 

Carillion Communications carried out the unusual task of recording the day to day sounds of the power station for playback within the training environments; this makes sure the simulation is as realistic as possible. A mobile recording system was used around the reactor site and the edited sounds are played back via a Roland sample player in the training.  The power output of the Dynacord amplifiers is sufficient to match the huge sound of the reactor’s turbines.  In addition to the Audio system a comprehensive video-monitoring and recording system was installed, including a Vista Joystick controller and eight Powerdome cameras.  The system was controlled via a Crestron® touch-screen controller.

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