An automation specialist’s work is organised in two stages: design and automation/commissioning. “We design automated industrial systems. This involves enabling the systems needed to operate a ship (electric power plant, mobility, auxiliary systems, ship safety, etc.) to be remotely monitored and controlled.” Depending on their experience, automation specialists may also be required to define requirements and produce design documents. The functional analysis for Flotlog was carried out by Chantiers de l’Atlantique. Additional specifications were defined for certain systems given their complexity, including the electric power plant as well as the system Fabrice Yaouanc is working on: the replenishment at sea function, which controls transfers of fuel from the BRF to other ships. “This main function of the BRF was not automated for the previous generation of these vessels. As a result, we pretty much started from scratch. Automation of the function now frees crew members from the need to pay attention to replenishment operations, which can take place simultaneously from two ships, one to port and the other to starboard.”
A diverse role
The second stage of this work relates to programming PLCs, the framework for which is established by the design documents defined previously. This is similar to computer programming, but with an on-the-ground approach (the notion of sensors and actuators). It is then necessary to define and run tests to validate these programs on the integration platform. The Flotlog teams in charge of deploying and commissioning on-board systems are required to adapt to the organisation of work as defined by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, whose industrial processes differ considerably from those the teams are more used to in Naval Group, while keeping up the pace to meet a rather tight program schedule.
“This stage really represents the culmination of each person’s commitment to making this program a success. It’s also a great opportunity to interact with core trades as well as the crew members who we will be training to operate the IPMS. My job is made all the more interesting and rewarding thanks to these enriching encounters.” The 31-year old Automated systems specialist was drawn to this blend of diverse activities, combining phases of reflection and office-based studies with more manual and technical experience in the field, in a multidisciplinary role to boot. This field-oriented trade involves work on equipment, networks and processes, and is constantly evolving with advances in IT. It is the perfect fit for inquiring minds, passionate about industrial techniques!
Having graduated from Polytech Angers (formerly the ISTIA), Fabrice Yaouanc completed the second year of his Masters Degree in Industrial Systems Engineering at Bilbao University in Spain. He was then recruited in 2015 by Aquitaine Electronique, a subcontractor for Safran based in Pau, before joining Naval Group at the end of 2021.