The Extra Low Energy Antiproton ring (ELENA) at CERN — part 3
I was a project leader of the powering work package for the new Extra Low ENergy Antiproton (ELENA) ring at CERN for almost 4 years. Being part of such an innovative and complex project was a great managerial experience as well as an opportunity to participate in the design, installation and commissioning of a new complex machine based on cutting-edge technologies. In “Part 3” I summarize the ELENA project at CERN and present challenges associated with managing a complex activity in an international environment.
Leadership, communication, planning, risk and budget management
As a project manager and a link person in the Technology Department, Electrical Power Converters Group, I had to communicate and coordinate with more than 120 people from diverse scientific and cultural backgrounds. My responsibility was to negotiate and combine various perspectives and chose the best solution and strategy for the team and the project. To facilitate the management of the activity, I decided to split the main powering work package for the ELENA into eight smaller sub-work packages. Each one was representing different type of deliverables essential for the successful operation of the energy sources for the magnetic and electrostatic systems of the ELENA decelerator.
As a leader, I assimilated large quantities of information, performed functional analysis of requirements, identified the key issues and from the very beginning, organized a clear strategy and translated it into goals and objectives within the team. I took an initiative and created the necessary documentation for the project, describing objectives, budget expenses, spending profiles, planning, important technical details as well as commissioning procedures. I made sure, that all essential information was available on time and people involved in the project fully understood their tasks, roles and responsibilities. The documents were circulated and approved by the ELENA project leaders. Due to a lack of requirement information for the ELENA electron cooler, I took the decision to split the main work package document into two parts. This step was necessary to fulfill the schedule for the rest of the project. Furthermore, I created a software tool which ensured the consistency of the design and powering strategy. It also played an important role in the deployment and commissioning of the power converters and their control systems. As a result, 73 high-power and 85 high-voltage circuits for 180 magnets were commissioned successfully in just two weeks. In total, 27 racks filled with more than 460 power converters with their control systems were delivered.
Being a project manager of such an innovative and complex task was a challenge and valuable experience. The system I was responsible for was delivered before the deadline and under budget, despite the difficulty in getting the requirements for some of the parts of the machine. The powering solution was commissioned successfully in Q4 of 2016. The first beam circulated in the ELENA machine on the 18th of November 2016. The control system is operational since then. The electron cooler — the last missing part of the ring — was put into operation in June 2018. The new transfer lines for the experiments are to be tested in 2020.