The ALICE Collaboration is planning a major upgrade of its central barrel detectors to be able to cope with the increased LHC luminosity beyond 2020. In order to record at an increased interaction rate of up to 50 kHz in Pb$-$Pb collisions, the TPC will be operated in an ungated mode with continuous readout. This demands for a replacement of the currently employed gated Multi-Wire Proportional Chambers by GEM-based (Gas Electron Multiplier) readout chambers, while retaining the performance in particular in terms of particle identification capabilities via the measurement of the specific energy loss.
Prior to the beginning of the full mass production of the readout chambers for the upgrade, a so-called pre-production was launched in order to characterize and verify the performance of the first fully assembled readout chambers of the final design.
This phase was concluded in March 2017 with the formal acceptance of the production readiness and hence the beginning of the mass production.