By Gerry McNulty, Business Development Manager
I enjoyed listening to the recent Magnox Supply Chain Engagement Webinar. As Linda Sapsford announced the new decommissioning strategy (moving from a Care & Maintenance approach to site-specific solutions), it struck me that the Magnox Berkeley team was already taking site-specific actions for the Sludge Canisters In-Vault Depressurisation (IVD) programme.
In 2017 Magnox approached BHR Group as the provider of the best available technology in abrasive-water jet cutting (AWJC), to understand how our patented DIAJET technology could be adapted for piercing (and so depressurising) the Sludge Canisters.
We’ve been at the forefront of AWJC technology for over 40 years. Our work includes designing, developing and adapting DIAJET to work effectively in hazardous operating environments around the world. Consequently, you might think we would be a shoo-in for this work – well, you’d be wrong!
In the process of developing a safe and effective solution for the IVD challenge, we have each learned and gained so much, working towards a shared vision through open communication, mutual respect, and close collaboration.
As Magnox adapts its strategy, including how it will work with new supply chains and SME’s, I’d like to share some of the lessons we at BHR Group have learned from working with them:
Give the SME the freedom to do what they do well
In an SME, excellence is often driven by people. At BHR, our experts learn and fail fast, rapidly developing and testing designs to reach solutions as much through expertise and experience as by process. This can be an uncomfortable experience for larger organisations who may operate in a more structured way. So by putting in simple stage-gates to ensure that everyone is involved in key decision making both helped alleviate this concern, while also providing transparency and increasing mutual trust.
Recognise when the SME needs support
As an example, an SME (particularly one new to the sector) may have limited capacity for dealings with important regulatory and procedural matters and integrating into the customers processes. On the IVD programme, the solution was to embed a member of the Magnox project team at BHR Group to act both as a formal interface, but also to work closely with the engineering and project champions. We quickly realised that what sometimes appeared as slight changes in our activities could have major impacts on the Magnox programme. To address this, we issued early warnings of any possible changes. This allowed both sides to respond more effectively ensuring better decision making.
Explore the added value that an SME brings
Having been brought in as the solutions provider for IVD canister piercing, BHR Group were also able to provide answers to other challenges, such as flammable gas dilution/dispersal. We even developed a unique pierce verification technique using noise analysis. This should not come a great surprise - given that SMEs are often required to integrate their technology to provide a complete solution. An SME can often have a breadth of application experience greater than larger organisations and so can bring fresh ideas and perspectives on related technical challenges.
Want to learn more? Join me at Nuclear2020
To find out more, join me at this year’s Nuclear2020 event where I and colleagues will be available to discuss our Magnox experience and other work that we have performed over the last year. You can find out about our nuclear decommissioning, new build and other services and activities.