Sheffield Forgemasters has passed a very testing final audit towards ASME NPT (Nuclear Partials) status to become one of the few UK companies able to fabricate safety critical cast components within nuclear power stations.
As a result of the audit, Sheffield Forgemasters (SFIL) will await an accreditation certificate which signals the green light to take on a whole new strand of civil nuclear manufacture, complementing its status as an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) certified Nuclear Materials Organisation.
SFIL’s NPT status will enable the company to weld-fabricate the components it currently supplies as a Nuclear Materials Organisation – a part of the nuclear assembly process that few organisations can undertake and one with significant challenges posed by weld-joining different materials.
The ASME code is the most comprehensive series of guidelines for civil nuclear manufacture in the world and all other codes, including the French RCC-M code, operate to similar compliance requirements. SFIL has held its Nuclear Materials Organisation status since 1992.
David Street, group quality director, said: “Forgemasters currently enjoys ASME status as a Materials Organisation, an accreditation for which we have had to pass a similar audit and a full quality systems survey every three years, working closely with the Hartford Steam Boiler Company to reach the audit stage.
“The audit to gain NPT status is a significant landmark for the company, which is the culmination of several years of work to establish enhanced requirements and disciplines embracing all our processes, employees and sub suppliers. This is to ensure we meet the exacting construction requirements of the ASME code, which are some of the most stringent demands in modern engineering.”
Once SFIL secures NPT accreditation, it will sit with one of its key customers, Rolls Royce, as one of the only UK companies qualified for main component fabrication within the heart of a civil nuclear power plant.
SFIL, which is a crucial supplier to the UK defence industry, could only supply ‘material’ for use in civil nuclear applications but it could not carry out further weld construction activities on these materials as will be allowed by NPT Certification status.
David added: “The programme to retain our existing accreditation and to gain the higher NPT accreditation has required an investment of approximately £140k, but the new accreditation will undoubtedly create new revenue streams as we start to tap into nuclear assembly work for a global client base.
“The implications of the ASME codes are vast for any company wishing to enter the UK civil nuclear supply chain with precise requirements which need comprehensive understanding to ensure compliance and avoid code violation. Businesses will need to understand how to engage with this process and at the moment, very few UK companies do.”
SFIL has an unparalleled understanding of the ASME code within the UK, and through its role as a tier one member of the Nuclear AMRC (Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre), is poised to play a crucial part in establishing quality assurance requirements for businesses aiming to enter the UK civil nuclear supply chain.
David added: “The code is an absolute requirement with no scope for concessions. Manufacture must be ASME code compliant to avoid non-acceptance and rejection. That’s where our involvement with the NAMRC should enable our expertise in this field to reach a much broader market.”
SFIL will now continue its work on manufacturing major nuclear island forging components for the UK’s nuclear submarine programme and projects for civil nuclear power plants as far away as China.