NDA estate supply chain 2014

Thursday 6 November, Manchester.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority presents the UK’s largest decommissioning supply chain event, with over 1500 delegates expected on the day.

NDA Estate Supply Chain Event 2014 aims to highlight opportunities along the supply chain, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, and will include presentations from the NDA, site licence companies and key government speakers. This year’s event also features UKTI and the Ministry of Defence.

The event is free to attend. For more information and to register, go to: www.decommsupplyevent.co.uk

See our nuclear decommissioning intelligence page for more information on the opportunities for manufacturers.

‘Important milestone’ for ABWR

Hitachi-GE’s advanced boiling water reactor has moved a step closer to UK construction, after passing an important regulatory milestone.

The government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation and Environment Agency have completed the initial high-level assessment of the UK ABWR design, and are progressing to the third step of the generic design assessment (GDA). The GDA is intended to support the construction of a number of new nuclear power stations by approving a standard reactor design which can be built in different locations by different developers.

ABWR cutawayHorizon Nuclear Power, which was acquired by Hitachi in late 2012, is proposing to build two or three UK ABWRs at Wylfa, Anglesey, and Oldbury, Gloucestershire. ABWRs have already been commissioned at four sites in Japan.

“We are delighted to have met this important milestone and be on schedule for the completion of the GDA by the end of 2017,” said Ken Sato, general manager for licensing at Hitachi Europe. “GDA is rightly a thorough and rigorous assessment, and we look forward to providing futher, increasingly detailed, submissions to the regulator throughout the coming months.”

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) noted that its interactions with Hitachi-GE had been positive throughout the assessment, and that the company had worked consistently hard to provide material that met regulatory expectations. ONR has highlighted some design modifications that will be required to enhance safety, but says this is a significant success so early in the process.

“There is a considerable amount of work to be undertaken by Hitachi-GE going forward, requiring significant capacity and capability across all of the topic areas for Hitachi-GE,” ONR said in a statement. Detailed reports are available from the ONR website.

Alan Raymant, chief operating officer of Horizon Nuclear Power, welcomed the progress made by Hitachi-GE. “Following the recent positive announcement on regulatory justification and with the launch of our first round of public consultation in September, it shows that we are well on track for first power generation in the first half of the 2020s,” he said. Horizon has previously said that it expects the first ABWR at Wylfa Newydd to be operational by 2025.

Mike Tynan, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC, also welcomed the announcement. “This is excellent news for the Wylfa Newydd ABWR,” he said. “The GDA process is robust and provides a transparent reveiew of the safety case for new reactors.  This is a positive step forward for Hitachi and Horizon Nuclear Power.”

Horizon says it will directly procure and manage a number of contracts with Tier 1 suppliers, which will in turn procure and manage all sub-contractors. The group has already signed strategic contracts with Amec, Atkins, Cavendish Nuclear and Jacobs Engineering Group for consultancy and technical design at Wylfa.

UK in SMR; SMR in UK

25 September, Manchester.

mPower SMRThe Nuclear Institute presents a one-day conference focusing on small modular reactors (SMRs), hosted by The University of Manchester.

The event will bring together industry and academia and will concentrate on the UK’s potential involvement in the design and build of SMRs. Could the UK have a supporting role for SMRs built internationally? Will the UK build SMRs, and could it build the first?

Sessions will focus on key issues including the design and operation of SMRs, the business case, the licensing regime and, in a panel led by Nuclear AMRC’s Mike Tynan, manufacturing and supply chain issues. There’ll also be a presentation of findings from the UK government’s feasibility study into SMRs.

For more information and to register, visit the UK in SMR; SMR in UK page at the Nuclear Institute.

Measuring up to complex assembly challenge

The Nuclear AMRC has worked alongside Rolls-Royce to significantly reduce the time needed to produce a complex heat exchanger sub-assembly.

baffle cage intThe project focused on a baffle cage, a complex and precise arrangement of 5,000 six-metre tubes, all of which must be inserted through 11 plates and then expanded and welded into position.

“Traditional approaches to building baffle cage assemblies, which make up about 20 per cent of a heat exchanger, rely on manual alignment of the baffle plates,” explains Hugo Lobato, technical programme manager in Rolls-Royce’s new build and nuclear projects team. “We have replaced the manual approach with the introduction of laser tracking to build in a much higher degree of accuracy when inserting the tubes.”

The team used the Nuclear AMRC’s Leica laser tracking system to create a real-time model of the whole assembly, allowing the position of each plate to be precisely mapped. The process was developed on a full-size assembly in the Nuclear AMRC’s workshop.

The centre’s engineers procured or manufactured all parts of the test assembly, and provided engineering support to develop assembly instructions and risk assessments. The team also worked with specialist design engineers at the Nuclear AMRC’s sister centre, the AMRC with Boeing, to create new assembly fixturing and devices to improve safety for the workers loading and positioning the plates.

laser tracker“We have developed and demonstrated an innovative in-process measurement technique which ensured that the plates were properly aligned, using advanced metrology techniques including laser tracking and optical metrology,” says Dave Stoddart, project manager at the Nuclear AMRC. “These techniques are widely used in the aerospace sector, but are not commonly found in the manufacture of heat exchangers.”

The baffle cage project will help Rolls-Royce achieve its strategic target of reducing its domestic civil new build manufacturing and engineering costs by around half.

“Using this method, we are confident we can consistently cut by half the time needed for the process,” says Lobato. “Furthermore, ensuring that tube placement is right first time further reduces delays and eliminates the potential for re-work and the cost associated with it. This yields predictable and consistent lead times, which is of great benefit to Rolls-Royce because it enhances the level of service we are able to deliver to our customer.

“As a result of this work, which has had the highest focus on quality, we are able to confidently deliver to our customer a product that is right first time and within a much shorter lead-time. This outcome has only been achievable through innovative thinking and the application of state-of-the-art measuring tools and techniques.”

The project has shown that time savings well beyond Rolls-Royce’s original target can be achieved, says Nuclear AMRC projects director Alan McLelland. “Using these principles, we could reduce assembly time by up to 80 per cent across a range of heat exchanger assemblies,” he notes.

The project was part of the civil nuclear Sharing in Growth programme, which aims to develop the UK manufacturing supply chain for the global civil nuclear market. The programme is part-funded by government through the Regional Growth Fund, and led by the Nuclear AMRC with support from Rolls-Royce and other industry leaders. As well as industry-led research and development, CNSIG includes intense business development for 10 key suppliers.

baffle cage JackThe team is continuing to investigate innovative ways to improve the manufacturing process, including improved techniques to weld heat exchanger tubes to tubesheets, and the use of portable machine tools to produce features on the assembly’s end plates.

“These machines are generally used in the oil and gas sector for in-situ repair and are not usually associated with the manufacture of new components,” explains Stoddart. “The research challenge is to ensure that nuclear industry health and safety requirements are met, while achieving a reasonable level of productivity which current portable machines are not designed to achieve.”

World Nuclear New Build Congress UK

15-17 September, London.

WNNBC14Nuclear policy makers, experts and industry leaders discuss the new build market in the UK and worldwide.

Speakers include key figures from nuclear new build programmes around the world, reactor providers, UK regulators, utility groups, and support organisations including the Nuclear AMRC.

For more information and to register, go to the World Nuclear New Build Congress (UK) 2014 website.

Duncan Craig joins Fit For Nuclear team

Former Westinghouse vice president Duncan Craig has joined the Fit For Nuclear team to help UK manufacturers meet the standards demanded by the industry’s top tier.

DuncanCraigCraig has over 35 years’ experience in the UK nuclear sector.

“One of the things I’ve learned the hard way is what nuclear culture means,” he says. “In my experience, there are many hugely capable manufacturers in the UK. However, working successfully in the nuclear sector requires an exceptional level of rigour and discipline. I hope to help companies to better understand what this means and why it is important.”

The Fit For Nuclear (F4N) assessment allows manufacturing companies to test whether they are ready to enter the nuclear supply chain. Managed by the Nuclear AMRC, F4N lets companies measure their operations against the standards required to supply the nuclear industry, and take the necessary steps to close any gaps.

Around 150 companies have completed the online F4N assessment over the past three years, with the majority receiving ongoing support and development from the Nuclear AMRC team. As part of the civil nuclear Sharing in Growth programme, backed by the Regional Growth Fund, F4N is now being enhanced and expanded with the aim of supporting 300 firms over the next two years.

Craig’s role as nuclear specialist will include visiting companies to better understand their strengths and challenges, and developing follow-up plans to help them raise their performance. “One thing I’ve always enjoyed is going out into manufacturing businesses large and small,” he says.

Craig joined BNFL in 1978 as an engineer and worked at Springfields for 25 years in a variety of roles. After leading a major skills programme, he was made responsible for all Magnox fuel production, then moved into the oxides area to lead the integration of four major plants into a single automated facility. He was then appointed site manager for Springfields, with responsibility for 2,500 staff.

“One of the big focuses was performance improvement – how do we improve quality and reduce costs, because we were under constant price pressure from customers. We did a lot of process improvement and lean manufacturing, and were pretty successful,” he recalls.

He then moved to Westinghouse to lead manufacturing improvements across the global fuels business, combining Toyota-style production systems with nuclear industry best practice. His last role before retirement was vice president for operations support for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Craig represented Westinghouse on the Nuclear AMRC’s programme board in the centre’s early days, and was keen to continue working with the centre – and with his former colleague Mike Tynan.

“I’m excited about spending time in the Nuclear AMRC. I have great admiration for the work that has been done so far and I think it has a crucial role to play in the future,” Craig says. “When you work in an industry for 35 years, it starts to matter to you. I believe I have knowledge and expertise that will help the UK nuclear industry, particularly SMEs, and that’s important to me.”

Electron beam welds in minutes, not days

Nuclear AMRC welding engineers have demonstrated the power of the centre’s giant new electron beam chamber by joining large steel cylinders in minutes rather than days.

EBW cylinderThe test, designed to highlight the potential time savings of electron beam welding to industrial partners, involved two S355 carbon manganese steel pipes of 600mm diameter and 45mm wall thickness.

Joining such cylinders with a weld as thick as the wall would take up to four days using conventional arc welding techniques, because of the need to apply multiple layers of weld and carry out repeated non-destructive testing (NDT) to guarantee the weld quality.

Electron beam welding, by contrast, can join very thick metal sections with a single weld which needs just one final inspection. Nuclear AMRC engineers have achieved welds of up to 100mm thick in nuclear-grade steel using the small ProBeam K25 chamber.

The centre’s new ProBeam K2000 chamber – believed to be the largest e-beam chamber available for research anywhere in the world, with a vacuum chamber volume of over 200m3 – completed the cylindrical weld in less than four minutes.

The weld quality is at least as good as that of a traditional weld, notes Bernd Baufeld, power beam technology lead at the Nuclear AMRC.

“For certain materials, electron beam welding can avoid hydrogen and oxygen related problems since it is done in vacuum,” he says. “Another advantage is that arc welding requires complex weld preparation, while electron beam just requires a simple square prep.”


Made in the UK

21-22 July, Liverpool.

MadeinUKNuclear AMRC CEO Mike Tynan will discuss opportunities for UK suppliers in the civil nuclear sector at the Insider Made in the UK conference.

The two-day event features industry leaders and sector experts in 12 key areas, giving suppliers companies up-to-the-minute insight into how technological development and economic change are impacting on their supply chains.

Tynan joins speakers from EDF Energy, Sheffield Forgemasters and the Nuclear Industry Association in the nuclear energy session on Monday 21 July. Other sessions will focus on other innovative energy sectors, including renewables and shale gas, as well as developments in advanced engineering and materials.

For more information and to register, visit the Insider Made in the UK website.

Rolls-Royce announces China collaboration

Rolls-Royce is to work with Chinese reactor provider SNPTC on civil nuclear power projects in the UK and worldwide.

The announcement came as the UK and Chinese governments signed a civil nuclear agreement that they say could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to UK companies.

Rolls-Royce, a founding member of the Nuclear AMRC, signed a memorandum of understanding with SNPTC (State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation) to explore potential collaboration in areas such as engineering support, provision of components and systems, supply chain management and instrumentation and control technology.

news RR weldRolls-Royce already supplies safety-critical instrumentation and control technology to more than 70 per cent of nuclear reactors in operation or under construction in China, and emergency diesel generators to almost 40 per cent.

Jason Smith, president for nuclear at Rolls-Royce, said: “China represents one of the world’s largest civil nuclear markets in which Rolls-Royce has been supplying safety-critical technology and solutions for 20 years.

“I am proud that we have built a partnership with SNPTC based on mutual trust. I look forward to exploring how we can broaden our work together in our domestic and international markets.”

SNPTC is the general contractor of the first four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors being built at Sanmen and Haiyang– the first of their kind to be built – and the developer of CAP1400, a third-generation passive plant. SNPTC works closely with Westinghouse and international partners including Shaw Group of the US, Lockheed Martin, Hamon of Belgium, Babcock & Wilcox and Tara Energy.

The new UK-China nuclear cooperation statement meanwhile paves the way for Chinese companies to invest in Hinkley Point C, the first of the UK’s new generation of nuclear power stations. EDF Energy proposes to build two Areva EPRs at the site, and has previously announced that China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation will take a stake of around 30-40 per cent in the venture.

Ed Davey, energy and climate change secretary, said: “Both governments recognise that tackling climate change is fundamental to our future and have committed to reduce emissions while enhancing energy security by investing in nuclear power. The joint statement with China reflects our shared intent to re-double efforts for an ambitious global agreement and domestic solutions to climate change.”

The governments also agreed to work together to develop innovative solutions in areas including waste treament and decommissioning.

A separate agreement confirmed that Chinese companies could own and operate a Chinese-designed nuclear power station in the UK, provided they meet regulatory requirements.

  • For our CEO Mike Tynan’s view on what these agreements mean for UK suppliers, download the Q3 edition of Nuclear AMRC News.

Major new welding capabilities come online

Two major new pieces of advanced welding equipment are now available for collaborative research and development – a powerful diode laser cladding facility, and the largest electron beam welding chamber in the UK.

diode laserThe Nuclear AMRC’s new diode laser cladding cell features a 15kW Laserline fibre-coupled diode laser, controlled by a gantry-mounted robot arm.

“This is one of the most powerful diode lasers commercially available,” says Bernd Baufeld, power beam technology lead at the Nuclear AMRC. “We can work with large pieces and bridge the gap between small university-scale development and final large-scale production.”

Diode laser cladding uses a powerful laser to rapidly coat large areas of metal with a high quality layer of speciality alloy. Currently used in the aerospace, automotive and offshore industries, it can potentially revolutionise the production of pressure vessels for the civil nuclear sector. Compared with current methods used to clad vessel interiors, such as conventional wire or strip cladding, diode laser cladding can cut production time from weeks to hours.

The Nuclear AMRC’s diode laser facility is capable of working on pieces of up to three metres diameter. It can deposit stainless steel, nickel alloys, wear-resistant alloys and other specialist cladding material at up to 10kg per hour.

Initial research focusing on proving the viability of diode laser cladding for civil nuclear pressure vessels. The cell will also be available for collaborative research and development for other industries requiring large-scale surface enhancement.

ebeam K2000The Nuclear AMRC has also begun operations on its Pro-Beam K2000 electron beam welding chamber, which was handed over in March following a 10 month installation and commissioning process.

With a vacuum chamber volume of 208m3, over 80 times the volume of the centre’s established K25 chamber, the K2000 is believed to be the largest e-beam chamber available for research anywhere in the world.

Engineers and executives from Pro-Beam and UK agents Vacuum Furnace Engineering joined welding specialists from Rolls-Royce and the Nuclear AMRC to toast the handover.

ebeam opening“It’s a fantastic, unique piece of equipment, not only in terms of its size, but also its capabilities,” Keith Bridger, Nuclear AMRC head of welding and materials engineering, told guests. “The design team at Pro-Beam must be congratulated because they faced some really big challenges.”

The Pro-Beam K2000 can complete very intricate joins on large components using nine axes of movement – four for the component and five for the electron gun. It can be used to weld gas turbine parts up to three metres in diameter, with fully automatic joint following and variable thickness programming – capabilities found in only a handful of machines worldwide.

Electron beam welding can join very thick metal sections with a single weld, potentially cutting the time required to join nuclear pressure vessels from weeks to hours. The Nuclear AMRC team has already demonstrated a 100mm thick weld on the smaller K25 chamber.

Video produced for Pro-Beam.