Nuclear: Moving on from the productivity challenge to disruptive technologies

Over the past 2 years the Constructing Excellence Nuclear Sector Group have been investigating productivity in the nuclear sector.  The Nuclear Conference on 2nd May 2019 hosted by Burges Salmon looked at progress to date in the productivity agenda and how that can be implemented as well as the role that disruptive technologies could play in improving productivity.

Adrian Worker from Jacobs and chair of the Nuclear Sector Group reminded everyone of the importance of the work the group is doing and the need for productivity improvements.  Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive, NIA provided an insightful look at how the nuclear sector, it’s importance to the UK energy mix and the significant need to improve productivity.

The Factory Thinking Guidance Package

Ben Pritchard from Invennt and co-chair of the Nuclear Sector Group launched Volume 2 Realising productivity construction delivery models – implementing construction factory thinking .  This volume emphasises specific aspects of best practice construction delivery; makes comment on some observations that hamper productivity; and, provides more information about how to gain a more productive environment for the nuclear construction project.  It was agreed that the to realise the recommendations and value of the report a top down and bottom up approach was needed.  There are many stakeholders to be influenced to realise the benefits of the approach.  To provide consistency a standard set of slides is being developed along with a list of third parties.

Philip Isgar from Nuclear Industry Digital Special Interest Group  and John Robison from Sellafield delivered an update on the digital report which is under production.  John in particular demonstrated the excellent work that Sellafield is doing in deploying digital technologies to deliver better operational performance and value.  Once the volume is produced there is a need to collaborate with a range of digital and nuclear stakeholders to enhance the technology.

Adam Newbould from RTFC presented on the Procurement Volume due to be released in the Autumn.  This volume will provide a consistent message across solutions to business case formulation, conflict management and transfer of risk.

There is so much underpinning thinking and knowledge in these guidance documents, the Nuclear Group will look at how this learning can be transferred across the wider Constructing Excellence and ECI networks.

Disruptive Technologies in Nuclear

Ben introduced  four disruptive technologies  that could transform the nuclear sector.  Mike Drury from NNL looked at Small Modular Reactors, how they are developing, the technologies that sit behind them and their potential implementation.  Paul Russell from IBM Watson  provided an overview of artificial intelligence and the role that it could potentially play in the nuclear arena.  Abel Maciel from Construction Blockchain Consortium  delivered insight into blockchain technology and the transformative role it could play in the nuclear sector.  Don Ward spoke about the work that ECI is doing with CII on Operating System 2.0.

Delegates were very keen to explore how these technologies can be used in the nuclear space.  The interface between the digital world and the analogue world, which is why the term digital thread resonated with the audience.  There was agreement that there was evidence needed on the technologies to make them an easier sell for key decision makers and articulate a vision for 2030 or 2050.  The group discussed the potential of a disruption project which will be taken up by the core group.

Get involved

Please do get involved with the Nuclear Group.  Email helpdesk@constructingexcellence.org.uk and we can hook you up with the core team who are leading on this important programme of work for us.