Cost savings in Sellafield spares management

Frazer NashFrazer-Nash has been working with the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp), part of Sellafield Ltd, to help understand the issue to the operations presented by obsolescence of components at the plant.

It is in the nature of the design of any nuclear facility that the majority of components may reach technical maturity prior to plant commissioning. Most components will continue to perform reliably; however, as time goes on, should parts require replacement, there is an increased likelihood that equipment will not be available as they may become obsolete.

This presents a challenge since equipment of the equivalent fit, form, function and the same or better reliability is required to support operations and maintain safety integrity. Thorp utilises a large single production line and hence the lack of availability of any one component has the potential to effect operations.

Engineering Management supporting Thorp recognised this as a potential problem and understood that proactive consideration and management of obsolescence was necessary.

Due to Frazer-Nash’s expertise in engineering and its knowledge of the nuclear sector, Sellafield Ltd as the operators of Thorp appointed the consultancy to develop and then implement an efficient, semi-automatic process to identify those plant components which potentially the most vulnerable with respect to replacement, and by doing so, focus management efforts on those areas where the greatest return on investment can be made in the shortest time.

With over 130,000 items to consider, the results have delivered a number of benefits, primarily a full view of obsolescence informing decisions and allowing the application of appropriate management processes to mitigate any risks posed. Consequently, Sellafield Ltd has enhanced its confidence for Thorp to deliver productivity on demand. This includes the early implementation of management processes to help reduce impact to the operation through action rather than reaction.

Martin White, a Senior Engineer at Frazer-Nash and a member of the team delivering this programme, said: “We have been working closely with Thorp on this project for the past 18 months.  Using our knowledge and expertise of obsolescence and the nuclear sector we have been able to provide Thorp with a cost effective solution that gives them the opportunity to minimise any obsolescence replacement risks, maintain or enhance safe operations and improve productivity through reduced down time, thereby saving time and money.  We are confident that other plants within the nuclear industry can also benefit from the approach that we have developed and applied here.”

Ashley Cowan, Thorp’s Operational Unit Engineering Manager at Sellafield, said: “The decision to engage the services of Frazer-Nash Consultancy has proved extremely beneficial. The joint collaboration between Frazer-Nash and Thorp’s Critical Spares project has already identified cost savings through reduction in stock levels and the introduction of a proactive Technical Query process. It also has identified further potential benefits including focussed investment of resources, availability of existing stock through improved inventory planning, and consistency of information through improved maintainer-supplier relationship.

“The long term goal is to provide for a self-sustaining process utilising maintainers, inventory management teams and our supplier base allowing for greater management control of the businesses stock and inventory.”

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