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The Cryogenics group juggles cold stand-by, training, documentation and safety

For a service whose work is usually very much focused on the physical installations, telework offers a chance to rethink its activities

Cryogenics truck
A truck delivering cryogenic fluid in front of point 1 during stage 3 (Image: CERN)

The Cryogenics group carries out all the tasks related to producing and maintaining very low temperatures for CERN’s installations and equipment. As well as managing the cryogenic infrastructures of the LHC and its detectors, the group is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the cryogenics equipment required for the non-LHC detectors and machines, the test benches and the Research and development activities at the Cryogenics Laboratory, as well as for supplying and distributing cryogenic fluids. Stage 3 has put a stop to many of the group’s activities that relate to its work on the installations.

Dimitri Delikaris, the leader of the Cryogenics group, points out that the cryogenics installations and their helium inventory are currently in safe mode. However, some equipment is being kept cold and requires special monitoring. This includes the magnet and calorimeter systems of the ATLAS and CMS detectors, the Neutrino Platform’s liquid argon cryostats, the NA62 experiment’s liquid krypton calorimeter and some of the equipment of the AD experiments. This requires members of the group to be present on the sites from time to time.

A limited and predetermined number of the group’s members return to CERN periodically in order to carry out safety rounds, as well as to take delivery of around 80 tonnes of liquid nitrogen per week and ensure that it is correctly distributed. As well as regular patrols to check that the installations are operating as they should, “best-effort” support teams are on call and ready to spring into action in the event of an emergency. Daily virtual rounds complete the picture. “Due to LS2, many of the installations had already been shut down for maintenance, consolidation and upgrades, so the procedures and means of monitoring were already in place,” explains Dimitri Delikaris.

For the teams working on the design of future cryogenics equipment and the associated specifications, activities continue apace. For those who are in charge of operations, telework provides a chance to work on documentation that would usually be placed on the back burner due to a lack of time. Krzysztof Brodzinski, leader of the section responsible for the operation of the cryogenics systems of the LHC and its detectors, sees telework as an opportunity: “This time is being used to perfect the training and simulation tools for cryogenic processes and to train new arrivals. I’m proud of the work being done by my team, who are participating enthusiastically in the design of the new modules.”

Coordination between colleagues is made possible by effective communication. Video meetings help the team to identify cross-disciplinary tasks that will enable the gradual restart to proceed safely and keep its members in touch with each other: “The most important thing is that everyone feels involved, stimulated and motivated. Thanks to the current organisation of our work, we’re getting there.” In short, the members of the Cryogenics group are not letting telework “cool” their enthusiasm.