Published: 12 December 2013

Some people will know me as a semi-permanent inhabitant of point 2, involved in the experiment’s infrastructure, operation and safety.

It is true that I'm wearing various hats, but my 'core business' is the ALICE DCS. Together with Lennart Jirden we laid the foundation of the ALICE control system about 12 years ago, and over the last few years I'm the project leader of the ALICE DCS; along with a small but excellent team of people we coordinate and support all control efforts in the detectors and provide the infrastructure to run the control system allowing for a smooth and safe operation of the experiment’s equipment. During the LS1 we assure a nearly 24/365 service.


The ALICE DCS computing infrastructure


Wearing another hat, I'm working closely with the Technical Coordination on a large variety of infrastructure and service issues. Being around at point 2 for more than 10 years means that one learns more and more about the – often not so straightforward – complexities of the infrastructure. After all these years I still discover new things that I wasn’t aware of. I'm sure that some of you already came to me with your questions on cooling, ventilation, electricity, network, rack or cabling issues...

Wearing yet another (hard) hat, I'm assisting our GLIMOS, Fernando, as his deputy. We cover the broad range of safety related topics in the life of the experiment; safety that is particularly important with all the many activities going on during LS1.

LS1 is the first really long 'break' after a very exciting operational period, where a lot of activities are taking place. For the DCS we will take advantage of the LS1 to rationalize the infrastructure that runs the control system, involving physical relocation of computers, redoing the network and other cabling. One of the challenges is to minimise the downtime of the control system to be able to cater for the various detector activities and tests that continue during LS1 and to maintain the monitoring of the experiment’s environment. In addition to this, the whole computer cluster will be upgraded to more recent operating systems and the latest versions of the various tools that are used. Here there is a huge task in supporting and coordinating with the various detector experts during the upgrade process.

On the infrastructure side the most striking project was the upgrade of the electricity infrastructure of the CRs, where I was deeply involved. During early summer the whole power network of the CRs, housing DAQ, HLT, DCS and detector equipment, was redone and now integrally powered from several UPSes. This will make a significant part of the experiment immune for power glitches and other perturbations, thus reducing the downtime of the experiment and reducing the risk of hardware damage due to power cuts. Another major project is the new experiment control room that is currently being built. Work is progressing well and I'm eager to see it finished in all its glory. I'm convinced this will be a very pleasant place to operate the experiment from; and of course if you want to experience that yourself I encourage enrolling for shifts as soon as operation starts again. Of course I can highly recommend DCS operator shifts.

During LS1 a CO2 fire extinguishing system for some racks will be finalized and the nitrogen extinguishing system of the L3 volume will be brought up to standards. Clearly these are systems which we hope that we will never need to operate, but certainly help in increasing the protection of ALICE delicate equipment. Many people working on a day to day basis in the experimental area tend to forget that we are working in a potentially hazardous environment. In that view the implementation of the new (ALICE dedicated, 4I) safety course is a great step forward in raising the awareness. This course will soon be mandatory for access to the experimental cavern, so if you haven’t already done so, please take the time to go through.

LS1 is a very exciting period where numerous improvements are implemented in all fields in and around the experiment. Let's do it safely and I'm sure that next year we will be able to start commissioning for an even more exciting run2.