Reaching a new standard for nuclear quality

By 30 July 2021 June 27th, 2024 Comment

In June 2021, Ansaldo Nuclear became the second UK manufacturer to achieve the new ISO 19443 nuclear-specific standard. Key account manager Alan Bevan, assurance manager Dave Rasdell and HSE manager Keith Roeton explain how the company built on its Fit For Nuclear journey to achieve the new standard.

Our journey started way back in 2016 where we worked with Nuclear AMRC on our original Fit For Nuclear assessment. ISO 19443 was still a draft document back then, but it caught the attention of our senior leadership team nevertheless.

ISO 19443 applies the principles of one of the world’s most renowned quality standards to the nuclear sector. It combines best practice in quality with the specific requirements of the nuclear industry.

Fast forward to September 2019, and the decision was made to proceed with certification.

Our starting point was to review the standard and undertake a gap analysis against each clause. From this, an action plan was established with key actions and action owners.

Our next step was to contact our certification body, LRQA, who already had experience with this standard. The certification would be exactly the same as for other management system standards.

First, we would have a Stage 1 assessment which looked at the overall system to see if all of the management system elements are there and working.

A Stage 2 assessment would then be required to drill right into the detail of the standard and our processes. To undertake the assessment, we needed an assessor, and this proved a bit of a challenge in its own right as currently there are not many assessors with 19443 experience. Eventually we were allocated an assessor and a Stage 1 date of Monday 21 December. Our preparation then focused on this date as we worked through our action plan. The Stage 1 visit was quite detailed and intense, but went smoothly with four minor findings.

Our Stage 2 assessment was for three days starting 25 March, which gave us time to address the initial findings. These three days were, again, detailed and intense as our assessor drilled down into our processes. At the end of this stage, we had four open non-conformance reports, and were recommended for certification.

Following a technical review with LRQA, we received our formal certificate on 19 May 2021.

Currently, ISO 19443 is not an accredited standard by UKAS, as there isn’t the take up for certification to justify accreditation. However, the certification process is exactly the same and just as stringent. As an early adopter of the standard, we believe this will give us some advantage moving forward.

As our managing director Andrea Basso states: “ISO 19443 is perfectly aligned with Ansaldo’s vision and mission. Engineering excellence coupled with a strong safety culture are core to delivering safe, reliable solutions to the nuclear sector. Our quality management system provides the framework for our activity. The achievement of ISO 19443 certification demonstrates we have all the necessary underlying processes in place to ensure our work is right first time, every time.”

ISO 19443 improves the understanding of quality requirements by suppliers and encourages nuclear industry players to work in the same direction. It is a win-win standard because it gives buyers the assurance of a standardized level of quality while securing nuclear safety and quality for those in the supply chain. ISO19443 is aligned with the many regulatory and industrial local and international requirements and allows organizations to better manage risks and improve their performance.