Metalcraft opens new box plant

Stainless Metalcraft has opened a new manufacturing facility to produce waste containers for Sellafield.

Metalcraft is one of the 10 companies on the Nuclear AMRC’s Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth (CNSIG) programme. In May 2015, the Cambridgeshire-based company won an order from Sellafield Ltd, initially worth £47 million, to produce 3m3 stainless steel containers for intermediate-level waste from Sellafield’s pile fuel cladding silos.

Metalcraft has now completed the development of a new 1,600m2 production facility at its base in Chatteris, with potential to expand the site to 3,200m2 as demand increases.

Metalcraft facility

“The decommissioning of the UK’s nuclear legacy is a challenging task, and we’re delighted that Sellafield recognised the specialist skills that we offer here in the Fens,” said Metalcraft managing director Austen Adams. “Opening the new facility is a real landmark in delivering this important contract and was a significant challenge as construction works – including strengthening foundations to support the heavy machine tools required – had to go on alongside existing operations.”

Metalcraft has invested £2 million of capital expenditure in new tools and capabilities for the site. These include a robotic welder offering both plasma and MIG welding; two new machine tool cells; test and assembly cells incorporating vacuum, pressure and dimensional inspection facilities; and a specialist cavity mixing and filling cell.

Martin Chown, supply chain director at Sellafield, and Ron Gorham, head of supply chain optimisation at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), joined Adams to officially open the plant.

Metalcraft Chown Adams Gorham

“The three metre cubed boxes are an essential component of our decommissioning programme, and the team at Metalcraft has worked tirelessly to develop the site while also producing the first prototype boxes,” said Chown.

The opening followed Metalcraft’s success at the NDA Supply Chain Awards, presented at the NDA’s annual supply chain event in Manchester in early November, which recognised 100 years of apprenticeships at the company. Metalcraft has recruited 17 new apprentices since winning the Sellafield contract.

“The company’s commitment to the project was rightfully recognised at our Supply Chain Awards, when Metalcraft was awarded the prestigious Minister’s Award in recognition of its track record training engineers and aspiration to recruit up to 10 apprentices every year until at least 2020,” Gorham said.

“Their approach gives us confidence that we will have a manufacturer capable of supplying their products and equipment for high integrity, mission critical items well into the future, with the next generation of engineers trained and developed to the highest standards.”

 

 

Advanced nuclear manufacturing & materials funding

Thursday 8 December, Birmingham.

Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network invite you to find out more about accessing £5 million of funding for advanced nuclear manufacturing and materials research.

As part of a £20 million nuclear R&D programme, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will invest up to £5 million in projects to develop innovative manufacturing and materials technologies for the civil nuclear sector. The competition aims to establish an innovative R&D technologies and skills for materials and manufacturing which will support a strong UK nuclear supply chain.

This event will be an opportunity to hear about the funding competition and identify potential research partners. Organisations will be invited to pitch on their offering and what they are seeking from partners.

Dorries VTL

Proposals should address one of the following themes (with allocated budgets):

  • Nuclear structural materials (£1.5 million).
  • Mechanisation and automation of component manufacture (£1.9 million).
  • Large-scale component manufacture and assembly (£1.1 million).
  • Prefabricated module development and verification (£200,000).
  • Design codes and standards (£300,000).

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition run in partnership with Innovate UK. It is open to organisations of all sizes. For detailed information, see SBRI funding competition: advanced nuclear manufacturing and materials.

For more information about the information day and to register, go to the KTN event page.

 

Collaboration agreement with US Nuclear Infrastructure Council

The Nuclear AMRC has signed a new agreement with the US Nuclear Infrastructure Council (USNIC) to work together on research and development to support the UK civil nuclear programme.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by Jay Shaw, senior business development manager for the Nuclear AMRC, and David Blee, executive director of USNIC, during a visit to the Nuclear AMRC on 26 October.

USNIC signing

The agreement confirms that the two organisations will explore opportunities of mutual benefit in the UK civil nuclear programme, including work to support advanced technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs), as well as the UK’s new build and decommissioning programmes.

The agreement was signed during a USNIC mission to the UK’s key nuclear organisations, aimed at enhancing dialogue between the US and UK industries on SMRs, advanced reactors and advanced manufacturing.

“Supporting this trade mission gave us an excellent opportunity to showcase the UK’s nuclear manufacturing research capabilities, and to share our experiences with our American colleagues,” says Mike Tynan, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC. “Collaborating with USNIC will further develop our transatlantic relations and grow our scope for future knowledge sharing to better support the UK’s civil nuclear programme.”

“The Council is pleased to have tangible linkage with the Nuclear AMRC’s impressive innovation infrastructure complex and enterprising supply-chain initiatives,” says Blee. “There is much common ground on both sides of the Atlantic on small reactors deployment, and this agreement will buoy efforts to ensure that the manufacturing and supply-chain sectors rise to the challenge to ensure success in the UK market and globally.”

USNIC group

USNIC is the premier business consortium advocate for new nuclear energy and the promotion of the US supply chain.

During their mission to the UK, the USNIC delegation of nuclear industry executives also visited the National Nuclear Laboratory, Urenco’s Capenhurst facility, and the prospective SMR site at Trawsfynydd in North Wales; and took part in industry networking sessions in London and Manchester.

Cryogenic machining forum

Thursday 1 December 2016, Nuclear AMRC.

The Nuclear AMRC invites you to explore the state of the art in cryogenic and near-cryogenic machining processes for the most demanding industries.

cryo machining

Cryogenic cooling uses extremely cold gas or liquid to control the heat generated during machining. It can improve machining efficiency and increase tool life while minimising the risk of component failure.

Ultracold nitrogen or carbon dioxide can replace conventional oil-based coolants for many applications, and can potentially benefit processes which are usually run dry. They can reduce surface residual stress and thermal damage, and improve surface roughness. They can also reduce the need to clean components during production, reduce waste, and cut the environmental impact of machining.

Discover how innovative research is helping to bring cryogenic processes to market, see them in action on production-scale machines, and find out how your business could benefit from these exciting new technologies.

For more information including agenda, download the flyer.

To register, go to: cryomachining.eventbrite.co.uk

 

Single-platform breakthrough for tubesheet machining

Thousands of deep holes can be drilled through a 600mm tubesheet using a standard machining centre, Nuclear AMRC research has shown. The study could lead to significant savings in manufacturing cost and time for a range of heat exchanger tubesheets and support plates.

Typically measuring up to five metres in diameter with over 10,000 deep holes through 600mm of Inconel-clad steel, steam generator tubesheets represent the most demanding application in tubesheet drilling.

With a length-to-diameter ratio of over 30, these holes are challenging for standard drilling techniques, particularly given the number of holes that have to be produced with zero faults. These tubesheets are currently produced on a dedicated gun drilling machine, using a mineral oil lubricant that can present contamination risks to nuclear components, with a long cycle time which can cause bottlenecks.

A new generation of deep drilling tools could remove the need for a dedicated machine. “Lately, there’s been lots of progress in tooling design and materials,” says Miguel Garcia, senior research engineer in the Nuclear AMRC’s machining team. “Now, for the range of hole sizes we’re looking at for tubesheets, it is possible to drill them on a standard machine using soluble coolant.”

drilling test

In a project funded by the Nuclear AMRC research board of member companies, the machining team investigated whether these new drills could meet the demands of tubesheet manufacturers.

The team used the Starrag Heckert HEC1800, a large high-precision horizontal boring machine, to prove a selection of commercially available drills. Each was used to drill 600mm steel testpieces with Inconel end cladding. The researchers observed machine performance, chip formation and tool wear, then measured the accuracy of the holes with a 150mm CMM probe.

Although some of the tested tools could not successfully drill the full depth, the team identified a drill geometry and cutting parameters that produced deep holes of exceptional quality on a standard machine tool platform using off-the-shelf tooling.

Importantly, the holes were produced using a standard soluble coolant, allowing higher material removal rates. By saving minutes per hole, machining time for a full tubesheet can be cut by many days.

tubesheet cu

Single-platform machining of tubesheets will allow manufacturers to reduce costs and become more flexible. The technique could be particularly valuable to smaller businesses which will be able to produce a wide range of heat exchanger tubesheets and other components without investing in new machine tools.

“It adds a lot flexibility to the process, as you can do any other machining operation on the component in a single set-up – a dedicated machine will only drill,” Garcia notes. “You can reduce the risk of misalignment and the risks of moving the component across the factory, and you’re also reducing the footprint you need from multiple machines.”

Full results have been shared with members. Work continues to optimise the drilling process and reduce cycle time, and to improve robustness to meet industry standards. The team are also working with tool suppliers to test and develop new drill designs.

  • For more news on how the Nuclear AMRC is supporting industry through manufacturing R&D and supplier development, download our Q4 newsletter (4MB pdf).

Nuclear 2016

1 December 2016, London.

The Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference, Nuclear 2016, will bring together speakers from all parts of the nuclear industry to discuss key developments in 2016 and look ahead to 2017.

NIA Nuclear2016

With keynote speakers and sessions focusing on nuclear new build, decommissioning, small modular reactors (SMRs), export opportunities and more, the conference offers unrivalled access to the sector’s senior leaders – including Mike Tynan, Nuclear AMRC CEO, who will talk abut the manufacturing challenges and opportunities of SMR development.

For full details and to register, go to: nuclear2016.co.uk

 

 

Nuclear AMRC helping Westinghouse cut SMR costs and lead times

The Nuclear AMRC is continuing to work with Westinghouse Electric Company to reduce build lead times for the US group’s small modular reactor (SMR).

Nuclear AMRC engineers are working with Westinghouse and modular construction specialists from Cammell Laird on a new advanced manufacturing study. The study will explore potential design efficiencies which can reduce costs to customers while promoting growth in manufacturing within the UK.

“The Westinghouse SMR is an innovative, industry-leading technology that builds upon the company’s extensive reactor and fuel technology expertise,” said Jeff Benjamin, Westinghouse senior vice president for new plants and major projects. “The Nuclear AMRC has broad experience in design for the manufacture of large, complex parts for safety-critical applications, and its support will help to increase the efficiency of our design, while building on our specialised UK value proposition.”

Westinghouse SMR with logo

The study follows an initial advanced manufacturing study on the Westinghouse SMR reactor pressure vessel, one of the largest and most demanding parts of any reactor. That study, completed in April 2016, demonstrated that Westinghouse’s design had the potential to be efficiently manufactured in the UK.

The new study will focus on how the SMR design can allow for greater production efficiency through modular assembly techniques.

“Greater R&D focus on technologies surrounding SMR manufacture will reduce the risk, minimise the lead times, while significantly optimising cost and quality delivery performance,” said Mike Tynan, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC. “Design for assembly is one such area of interest which has the potential to significantly reduce construction costs and time, by minimising the amount of labour required on site.”

Heavy engineering group Cammell Laird has also been engaged by Westinghouse to work on the study.

“Cammell Laird has over 40 years’ experience in the design, manufacture, assembly and transport of large complex modules to a number of safety-critical sectors,” said Jonathan Brown, managing director of the Merseyside-based group. “We are pleased to bring this knowledge to support the Nuclear AMRC in undertaking the nuclear module study for Westinghouse.”

Westinghouse says that the study further demonstrates its commitment to partnering with the UK government to deploy the company’s SMR technology, and move the UK from buyer to global provider of the latest nuclear energy technology. Westinghouse also proposes to manufacture fuel for its SMR at its Springfields site in Lancashire.

Nuclear AMRC awarded Athena Swan bronze

The Nuclear AMRC’s commitment to supporting women in engineering and research has been recognised with the Athena Swan bronze award.

The Athena Swan scheme recognises commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering and related fields at universities and research institutions. The bronze award recognises that an institution has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.

“I’m absolutely delighted that the people of the Nuclear AMRC have been recognised through the Athena Swan bronze award for their dedication and commitment to providing a working environment that is free from gender bias, recognises the value of the individual, and promotes the unconditional trust and respect needed for true potential to be liberated,” says Mike Tynan, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC.

“In a business dominated by technology, the Athena Swan bronze award is a prized possession that reminds us that our greatest asset is our people. To build a team that plays a lead role in the creation of a new era of civil nuclear power in the UK requires that talent is unleashed and is unfettered by prejudice and bias. This is the value of Athena Swan – it is a way of doing business rather than simply an award to be gained.”

Athena Swan team

The Athena Swan application was prepared over the past year by a team from all parts of the Nuclear AMRC, led by technology researcher Dr Kathryn Jackson.

“Equality is good for the nuclear industry, it’s good for the manufacturing research, and it’s good for engineering, which are all areas where women are under-represented and where we’re at the intersection,” Jackson says. “Our remit is to help UK industry win work in civil nuclear, and the nuclear industry has got a higher proportion of men than any other power generation sector, because it’s largely a legacy workforce. If we’re leading in manufacturing research, it makes sense we should be leading the cultural change as well.”

Athena Swan bronze awardThe Nuclear AMRC will now implement the action plan prepared for the application, with the aim of applying for the Athena Swan silver award by 2020. “We’ve highlighted everywhere we’re doing things well where we need to continue, and everywhere we need to do things better,” Jackson says. “There’s a lot of work to do and there’s no shortcutting as we have to demonstrate we have made significant improvements.”

“The bronze award acknowledges that we are on a journey to excellence,” Tynan adds. “My expectation is that Nuclear AMRC will continue to improve the opportunities for gender minorities in the nuclear industry and try to ensure that we access the extraordinary talent that exists in this country to deliver innovative and safe civil nuclear power for generations to come.”

 

100th UK manufacturer achieves Fit For Nuclear

Precision engineering group Paul Fabrications has become the 100th UK manufacturing company to prove its readiness for civil nuclear work through the Nuclear AMRC’s Fit For Nuclear programme.

Fit For Nuclear (F4N) is a unique service to help manufacturing companies test and develop their readiness to bid for work in the civil nuclear supply chain. F4N is delivered exclusively by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC), part of the national High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and is supported by top-tier partners in nuclear new build and decommissioning.

Paul Fabrications – based in Castle Donington, near Derby, and part of the global AGC AeroComposites group – is the 100th company to complete the F4N programme by benchmarking its performance against the standards demanded by the civil nuclear industry’s top tiers, and driving business improvements through a tailored action plan.

Paul laser

Paul Fabrications has over 50 years’ experience in the civil nuclear sector, and currently specialises in manufacturing intricate components for the fuel assemblies used in the UK’s current fleet of advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs). With the AGR fleet approaching the end of its service life, the company is looking to replace this revenue stream and increase its offering to the wider nuclear industry.

“The pressure on us is to look for new work in the nuclear sector,” says Peter Tryner, nuclear operations manager at Paul Fabrications. “There’s a world of work to be had in the nuclear area that we have the capabilities on this site to do.”

F4N support has helped the company drive continuing improvements to its business processes, and understand the opportunities of the wider nuclear market including new build and decommissioning. F4N also gives Paul Fabrications an industry-recognised hallmark to demonstrate its readiness for nuclear work, and allows the firm to tap into the Nuclear AMRC’s collaborative network and sector expertise to help identify opportunities and build new relationships with potential clients.

“Fit For Nuclear has opened some doors for us which we have not really been privy to in the past,” says Wayne Exton, chief executive officer at AGC AeroComposites. “This is a relatively slow-moving industry compared to others, but we have been part of the nuclear sector for a long time, we want to be part of it, and we’re prepared to invest. Our knowledge is growing as we go through Fit For Nuclear, and I hope in the next two or three years we should start to see some new opportunities.”

Paul workshop

Martin Ride, lead nuclear specialist for the F4N programme, comments: “Paul Fabrications is a tremendous Fit For Nuclear company, with a clear understanding of what it really takes to work in nuclear. By building on its experience of working for a leading UK customer in the current nuclear fleet, the company has set a very high standard. With a dedicated and extremely well-organised and managed nuclear capability, I’m confident that the Paul Fabrications team are well placed to meet requirements for light-to-medium sized precision fabrication and high tolerance components across the nuclear industry.”

Since the programme’s launch in 2011, over 500 UK manufacturers have taken the initial F4N online assessment. Completing the programme requires commitment and drive from senior managers, and typically takes 12–18 months. Successful participants range from contract manufacturers with no nuclear experience aiming to take a first step into the sector, to established suppliers wanting to benchmark their position and drive business excellence.

“With the UK’s nuclear new build programme moving forwards with the go-ahead for Hinkley Point C, and the decommissioning programme offering around £1.5 billion of supply chain opportunities a year, there are huge opportunities for UK manufacturers in the nuclear sector,” says Martin Ride. “It’s a challenging market, but Fit For Nuclear gives you the support you need to understand the opportunities and challenges, develop your capabilities, and ultimately win work.”

  • The Nuclear AMRC is launching a new series of regional events to introduce even more UK manufacturers to the support available through Fit For Nuclear. The first events are on 20 October in South Yorkshire, and 1 November in the West Midlands. For full details, see the F4N nuclear strategy events page.

F4N: nuclear strategy

27 October 2016, Nuclear AMRC; 1 November 2016, West Bromwich.

In the first of a new series of introductory workshops, the Nuclear AMRC’s Fit For Nuclear team will help manufacturers get to grips with nuclear strategy and deployment.

F4N skyline

Breaking into the nuclear sector demands vision and commitment from every part of your business. This workshop will give you a clear understanding of the opportunities in the nuclear supply chain, and the practical tools you will need to engage your staff through strategic thinking and policy deployment.

The half-day event will help you understand:

  • What support is available through the Fit For Nuclear programme, and whether F4N is right for your business.
  • How to identify and close any gaps in your capabilities or performance, to meet nuclear industry requirements.
  • Why you need a strategic approach to business improvement for nuclear.
  • How to link your strategic vision to effective deployment tools to engage all your operational staff.

The workshop is designed for senior directors who want to better understand how they can win work in nuclear, and need to share their vision with the people who will deliver it. It’s also a great opportunity to meet our nuclear specialists and industrial advisors; learn more about the F4N programme; and gain a deeper understanding of strategic planning and deployment for business excellence.

For more information, download the flyer, or register at: nuclearstrategy.eventbrite.co.uk

Please note the change of date for the South Yorkshire event – now on 27 October.

We’ll be holding additional events and workshops for new-to-nuclear companies around the UK over the next year. For more information about events in your region, contact: f4n@namrc.co.uk