Positioning parts weighing hundreds of metric tons with an accuracy to within 1/100th of a millimeter

Key figures


tolerance for the positioning of items weighing 750 metric tons


weight of the largest ITER part lifted by a CNIM Systèmes Industriels' tool

10 000

of component parts of the assembly lifted using our tools

ITER Tokamak, currently under construction at the Cadarache site in France, is the world’s largest experimental reactor designed to produce fusion power.

In December 2016, ITER chose CNIM Systèmes Industriels to engineer, manufacture and install special tools for the assembly of the Tokamak’s external components. This five-year framework contract for Purpose Built Tools (PBT) includes various steps.

For the first part of the contract, CNIM Systèmes Industriels designed nine types of special tools, some of which were capable of handling items 17-meters tall weighing 750 metric tons with a precision of about a hundredth of a millimeter.

TFC pairs IT

A complex handling

One of the major tools developed by CNIM Systèmes Industriels for the Purpose Built Tool contract is the Toroidal Field Coils pairs in-pit Installation Tool (TFC pairs IT). This complex handling system is designed to install the toroidal field coils in the Tokamak pit. These TF coils are superconducting magnets weighing about 750 metric tons which perform a critical function for ITER, ensuring the confinement of hot plasma at 150 million °C inside the vacuum chamber.

The TFC pairs IT is the most complex and largest systems of all the deliverables covered by the PBT contract. Based on an extremely complex kinematic sequence featuring 18 simultaneously controlled 700-bar hydraulic ram, it will move the TFC superconductors a few millimeters in three axes and ensure their precise positioning to within 1/100th of a millimeter. It will also perform the final adjustment of the Tokamak’s nine sectors*.

*A Tokamak sector mainly consists of portions of vacuum chamber, heat shielding and two TF coils.

Cryostat Heavy lifting

Other exceptionally large tools designed for ITER include a lifting beam system. This system notably installed ITER’s heaviest part, the base of the cryostat, weighing 1,250 metric tons. This handling system comprises four beams, two of them fitted with hydraulic rams which will balance the load. It handles the cryostat base and positions it in the pit very precisely.

CNIM Systèmes Industriels successfully met the many challenges raised by handling such a massive structure inside the assembly building notabily a load that must be lifted over the Sub-Sector-Assembly-Tools (SSAT) at 25 m-height. (see picture on the right © ITER ORG)

More info on handling the base of the ITER cryostat

Cryostat Feed Through

In all, 20 CFTs are to be positioned using this tool, with 17 of them being placed in their final positions. The other three will be inserted when the construction of the cryostat has progressed. For this purpose, CNIM Systèmes Industriels has encased a storage support which will, notably, ensure seismic resistance during the transition phase.