Small manufacturers urged to get Fit For Nuclear

By 16 October 2014 October 27th, 2014 Industry news, Nuclear AMRC news

The Nuclear AMRC has joined forces with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) to help more than 300 small manufacturers prepare to seize the opportunities of the UK’s rapidly developing £60 billion civil nuclear new build sector and £1.5 billion a year decommissioning programme.

F4N MASFit for Nuclear (F4N) lets companies measure their capabilities against industry standards and helps them bridge any gaps to meet nuclear industry requirements. Backed by top tier partners including Areva and EDF Energy, the initiative offers a business improvement journey that will identify strategy, implement new processes, secure necessary accreditations and provide supplier matching opportunities.

For the first time, F4N is also offering participating SMEs the chance to apply for match funding for business improvement or R&D projects.

“There is great potential for advanced manufacturing SMEs to build business in the civil nuclear sector,” says Steven Barr, head of MAS. “Following approval for Hinkley Point, we can expect these opportunities to increase in new build, as well as in decommissioning and existing station maintenance.

“We recognise they need help to understand the nature of the opportunities that are opening up and to prepare for them.”

To date, around 150 companies have completed the online Fit for Nuclear assessment, with the majority receiving ongoing support and development from the Nuclear AMRC team.

New funding from the government’s Regional Growth Fund, through the civil nuclear Sharing in Growth programme, has opened the initiative to another 300 SMEs. MAS will help the Nuclear AMRC engage the wider manufacturing supply chain, including control and instrumentation, electrical and other sub-contractors.

F4N participants can also take advantage of the Nuclear AMRC’s Nuclear Connections initiative, which helps link manufacturers to specific supply opportunities from the industry’s top tiers. This is based on a detailed understanding of the production capabilities of individual companies and matching these to current and upcoming tenders, including the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s estate.

“At little or no cost to the participating company, F4N can deliver real business value regardless of your current nuclear sector knowledge or experience,” says Martin Ride, an experienced purchasing manager with Rolls-Royce, now working as supply chain consultant at the Nuclear AMRC.

“This is one of the easiest and most straightforward sector-based programmes to access, participate in, and get incredible value from, and which can lead to increased opportunities.”

The Fit for Nuclear journey starts with a capability questionnaire and online assessment, which will then be followed by a site visit from a dedicated F4N assessor.

They assessor will help the company develop an action plan that will be verified by industry experts. A nuclear specialist will then work with the company to ensure they’re in the best position to win work.

Any English SME can apply for match funding, subject to reaching the required stage in the Fit for Nuclear journey, with the average grant expected to be around £10,000.

“The first new nuclear plant is likely to come online in the 2020s, but orders for the bulk of plant and services are expected to start developing from next year,” Barr concludes. “Now is the time for small manufacturers to act.”