Professor Steve Jones appointed CTO

Renowned welding expert Professor Steve Jones has joined the Nuclear AMRC as its new chief technology officer (CTO).

Professor Jones joins from Coventry University, where he held the post of professor in manufacturing systems and processes at the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Institute. He previously worked at Rolls-Royce as global engineering specialist for joining sciences, where he worked closely with the company’s civil nuclear division to secure the ASME N-stamp qualification, and worked with the Nuclear AMRC as visiting professor of welding engineering.

As CTO, Professor Jones is responsible for ensuring that the Nuclear AMRC is focused on providing innovative technical solutions that will give the UK supply chain a competitive advantage in the global nuclear market.

“The CTO is a fundamental position in the organisation, and Steve will be a great addition to the centre and the team,” says Nuclear AMRC chief executive officer Andrew Storer. “I am really pleased to welcome Steve, who will be responsible for ensuring our technical strategy is directly linked to the market, to make sure we are delivering the right applied research for UK industry.

Steve Jones ebw

Professor Jones will lead the development of the technology strategy at the Nuclear AMRC, ensuring that the centre is delivering truly advanced manufacturing methods to the nuclear industry. A fundamental part of this is to make sure that the centre is meeting the current needs of the supply chain to improve productivity and reduce manufacturing risk in machining and fabrication.

“Our sector is understandably very conservative, so introducing new technologies that challenge existing codes and practices requires extremely strong de-risking procedures reinforced by substantial data to justify their inception,” Professor Jones says.

“I believe there are still significant benefits to be realised through optimising current practices and competences. This will accelerate performance and improve capability, without the need for a step change in skills and unnecessary costs.”

Jones started his manufacturing career in 1980 as an apprentice welder with Rolls-Royce Motors in Shrewsbury. He studied for 17 years with the Open University while working in industry, achieving his doctorate in materials and welding engineering in 2003.

“Combining engineering practicality with long-term academic training allows me to describe myself as a ‘pracademic’ – a word I am cautious about using in potentially tongue-tied situations, but a credential that I hope will add to the already highly proficient skills set at the Nuclear AMRC,” he says.

Professor Jones is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of The Welding Institute. He succeeds Stuart Dawson as CTO, who has moved to the same position at the Nuclear AMRC’s sister centre, the AMRC with Boeing.

Storer appointed chief executive

Andrew Storer has been appointed chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC, after two years as managing director.

He succeeds Mike Tynan, who has now retired after four years leading the centre and 42 years in the nuclear industry. Below, Storer introduces his vision for the centre.

Andrew Storer

I have been at the Nuclear AMRC since October 2015, but I’ve been involved since the beginning. I was programme director for Rolls-Royce’s civil nuclear business, and we needed somewhere to develop manufacturing techniques to help deliver potential contracts.

Back in 2012/13, the centre was dominated by one customer responsible for 85 per cent of work. Those early years were about creating the physical assets and starting to think seriously about supply chain support.

Since then, Mike Tynan has spent a lot of time and effort getting the Nuclear AMRC into the fabric of the nuclear industry. Within the past year, we have diversified the customer base so we are no longer dominated by any one company, while increasing overall revenue. We have opened a new centre in Birkenhead for modules and local supply chain support. We are really well engaged with Sellafield, and see this as a great relationship for the future.

We still have a lot more to do. More than ever, the UK nuclear industry needs to work as one, building on the good things across the sector and not just re-inventing everything in silos. Consolidating procurement plans across the sector would help us all understand volumes, stimulate UK investment, and leverage economies of scale. Research needs to be targeted at today’s scope of work as well as future needs, to help companies make things at lower cost and with greater repeatability while meeting quality demands.

This efficiency needs to be fed back to the consumer – nuclear is competing with other energy sources and we can’t take anything for granted. We must start by showing that we can deliver current programmes in new build, decommissioning and submarines, and keep generating 21 per cent of the UK’s electricity at EDF’s 15 operational reactors.

To support this cross-sector approach, we are working with the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) to develop a sector deal as part of the new industrial strategy. This is one of five initial deals proposed by the secretary of state, Greg Clark, and was presented at the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) in July. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to positively change our sector, with some real game-changing topics which were all agreed as sensible areas for development.

The new energy minister, Richard Harrington, and his team are now working with NIC members to develop the details for presentation to Clark later this year. We hope this will trigger new approaches for current and future technology development and intellectual property in the UK.

So what does all this mean for Nuclear AMRC? We are now in the performing phase of the centre’s life. We intend to deliver more in-depth supply chain development, providing very specific support to companies against real opportunities. This will link back to our facilities in Rotherham and Birkenhead, providing more tangible disruptive manufacturing research based on industry pull as well as innovation push. We also plan to develop bases in the UK’s key nuclear regions, providing localised support to reduce the burden on the supply chain.

There’s nothing in our name to say we only work with metal – we intend to develop our research into electrical controls and instrumentation, which make up a large part of the value of a reactor plant and which fall within UK scope.

We recognise that qualification of equipment is a vital part of UK companies winning work, and are working very closely with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to provide additional support for this and other areas. And of course, we will develop our work on modules, which we see as fundamental to reducing cost, and which we are just starting to address at our new facility.

We have lots to do at the Nuclear AMRC and, as the new chief executive, it really does excite me. I look forward to continuing to work with everyone here at the centre and all our members, partners and friends in the nuclear industry.

Nuclear AMRC opens new modular manufacturing R&D centre in Birkenhead

The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has opened its new modular manufacturing R&D centre, at the Birkenhead site of member company Cammell Laird.

The launch marks the start of a research collaboration led by Cammell Laird to develop modular manufacturing techniques to support the UK’s nuclear new build programme.

The Nuclear AMRC, part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, works with UK manufacturers of all sizes to help them win work in the nuclear power sector. Its research factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire is home to over £30 million worth of state-of-the-art machining, welding and inspection facilities, all of which are available for companies to use in collaborative R&D projects.

The new facility expands the Nuclear AMRC’s capabilities into modular manufacturing. Modular manufacturing involves the off-site assembly of large-scale complex systems, which are then transported to site for final installation.

Modular techniques are already widely used in shipbuilding, aerospace and other safety-critical industries. In the nuclear sector, they can significantly reduce construction risk and help deliver new power stations to schedule and cost.

The Nuclear AMRC Birkenhead facility was officially opened on Tuesday 4 July, with a launch event attended by around 50 industry delegates.

Birkenhead Brown Lester Elsy Storer

The event featured presentations from (L-R) Jonathan Brown, managing director for energy at Cammell Laird; Craig Lester, executive director for nuclear strategy at BEIS; Dick Elsy, chief executive officer for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult; and Andrew Storer, managing director of the Nuclear AMRC.

With over 1,000m2 of workshop space, the new facility will host specialised machining, joining and assembly equipment to develop and prove modular manufacturing techniques for nuclear applications. Work will address modular manufacturing for new reactors of all sizes, as well as the challenges of decommissioning and waste management.

Andrew Storer, managing director of the Nuclear AMRC, said: “Our new Birkenhead facility extends our capabilities into an area of huge interest and importance to the nuclear industry. Modularisation reduces risk in manufacturing and construction, and will help developers build new power stations on schedule and on budget, meeting our national targets for secure, cost-effective, low-carbon electricity generation.

“The manufacturing techniques we will develop at the new facility can also help improve production efficiency and costs in other parts of the nuclear market, for example in the manufacture of large numbers of standardised waste boxes for the decommissioning programme.

“Our Birkenhead facility is the first of a new network of regional supply chain hubs, which will help us provide on-the-ground support to companies of all sizes across the UK. Birkenhead is ideally placed for the established nuclear cluster in North West England as well as the Wylfa new build site in North Wales. We want to help companies based in this region to become Fit For Nuclear and win work in the nuclear sector at home and worldwide.”

Cammell Laird aerial

The Nuclear AMRC Birkenhead facility is hosted by Cammell Laird, which joined the Nuclear AMRC as a tier one member earlier this year. Cammell Laird’s 120-acre site on the Mersey features four dry docks, a non-tidal wet basin, a large modular construction hall and extensive covered workshops. The company has been involved with the UK’s nuclear sector for a number of years, and is positioning itself as a world-leading hub of modular manufacturing expertise.

Cammell Laird is now leading a new research project with funding from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

The project, called Fit For Modules, aims to develop the UK supply chain into a world-leading provider of modular manufacturing techniques for nuclear and other high-value energy sectors. The research consortium – including the Nuclear AMRC, Laing O’Rourke, Arup and Frazer-Nash Consultancy – will work with industry and regulators to map the challenges and opportunities of modularisation.

Jonathan Brown, managing director of Cammell Laird’s energy division, said: “Modularisation is widely applied on shipbuilding, civil construction and a number of other sectors where it is demonstrated to bring significant benefits in terms of cost reductions and improved schedule performance. We are confident that when applied correctly within the nuclear sector we will see similar benefits.”

The first stage of the project will produce a detailed study showing how the development of modular techniques can support the UK’s nuclear new build programme, and identifying what research and investment are needed to turn the UK into the world leader in off-site modular construction for the nuclear industry.

Immediately after the launch event, Cammell Laird hosted a two-day industry workshop to discuss modularisation challenges associated with process and methods, technologies and techniques, and people and culture. The project will also consider financial and supply chain issues around modularisation.

At the end of the first year-long phase, the consortium will publish a technology roadmap detailing how the required technologies and capabilities can be developed over the next five years. The report will be shared with industry, including the 120+ manufacturers who have completed the Nuclear AMRC’s Fit For Nuclear (F4N) supplier development programme.

EQ Alliance to tackle equipment qualification challenges

The Nuclear AMRC is working with a new alliance of Rolls-Royce, Lloyd’s Register, Assystem and Arexis to support the UK’s nuclear new build programme through equipment qualification.

Equipment qualification (EQ) is a systematic approach to ensuring that safety-critical components and systems being manufactured for new nuclear power stations meet the relevant quality standards.

The new EQ Alliance will produce a detailed report on EQ requirements for the UK new build programme, and examine the UK’s current capability to meet those requirements. The report, due in spring 2018, will provide vital strategic guidance to help ensure that UK manufacturers are ready to meet nuclear customer requirements, reducing the risks of new build while maximising the opportunities for the UK supply chain.

“UK suppliers aiming to win work in nuclear new build need to understand the requirements for qualifying safety-classified equipment,” says Andrew Storer, Nuclear AMRC managing director. “This can be a barrier to winning work in the nuclear sector, but is often overlooked.

“By developing the UK’s capabilities for equipment qualification, the EQ Alliance can help UK manufacturers win work. We can also help the UK become a recognised global centre for equipment qualification for the nuclear sector, providing new export potential. With four different reactor technologies being developed in the UK, helping UK suppliers understand the differences and identify common areas could provide significant efficiencies for new build projects worldwide.”

 

 

EQ Alliance news

The alliance will work closely with the Nuclear AMRC and industry stakeholders during the development phase.

Mark Tipping, offshore technology manager at Lloyd’s Register commented: “We are delighted to be working with our partners to ensure successful delivery of this EQ project for the Nuclear AMRC and, by extension, the UK’s ambitious nuclear build programme.

“EQ is an essential element in demonstrating that a nuclear power plant can be operated safely. It is a regulatory requirement which must be satisfied in order to obtain a licence to operate.”

“Ensuring a robust and agile EQ framework is in place will deliver significant technical and commercial benefits to the UK’s new build programme.” says Chris Tierney from Rolls-Royce. “We have partnered with some of the foremost companies in the industry to ensure the strongest combination of EQ expertise and the highest standards of delivery for the Nuclear AMRC.”

“The EQ Alliance will be leading the industry in the development and delivery of efficient methodologies to support the growing supply chain, and to provide clarity of EQ requirements to the extensive nuclear new build programmes across the UK,” says Bryn Thomas, head of strategic campaigns for Assystem. “We are committed to helping the new build developers in the UK learn from the experiences of other global nuclear developments”.

Raphael Schirrer, chief executive officer at Arexis, says: “The approach of the EQ Alliance brings a unique accumulated pool of EQ expertise with highly skilled resources from all consortium members.”

Over the next 12 months, the EQ Alliance will investigate the UK’s capabilities to meet and manage the EQ requirements of the various technologies being developed for the UK’s nuclear new build programme, and help the Nuclear AMRC make recommendations for intervention.

Cammell Laird announces new partnership with Nuclear AMRC

Cammell Laird and the Nuclear AMRC have announced a new partnership which will support the Merseyside engineering company’s campaign to position itself as a world-leading nuclear industry hub.

The partnership was announced at a meeting of the Nuclear Industry Association’s new build group, held at Cammell Laird for an audience of over 100 nuclear industry executives.

The new partnership will see the opening of a Nuclear AMRC facility within Cammell Laird’s Birkenhead site. The new centre will provide a base for the Nuclear AMRC in the North West, and be used to develop and industrialise technology and knowhow to service the nuclear industry.

Jonathan Brown, managing director of Cammell Laird’s energy division, said: “We are hugely excited to announce this new venture with the Nuclear AMRC, which will also see Cammell Laird become a Tier One member of the Nuclear AMRC. The development centre will thrust Cammell Laird forward as the leading UK industrial manufacturer developing expertise in off-site module build in partnership with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Cammell Laird aerial

“We are looking to research a wide range of areas supporting the assembly, commissioning and transportation of modules of up to 5000 tonnes, where Cammell Laird benefits from its coastal location,” Brown added. “Working with the Nuclear AMRC, we will invest in our facilities and our skilled workforce and supply chain to meet the demands of modular new build. Looking forward, we will also target the export market through a strategy built on working with partners and countries around the world, focused on the exploitation of the benefits of modular construction.”

Andrew Storer, managing director of the Nuclear AMRC, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Cammell Laird to the Nuclear AMRC network. Our new facility in Birkenhead will focus on developing modular manufacturing methods for new reactors of all sizes, drawing on Cammell Laird’s expertise in modular shipbuilding and a host of innovative technologies to significantly reduce costs and lead times for nuclear new build. It also gives us a base in the North West, the core region for the UK’s nuclear industry, allowing us to work more closely with the regional supply chain and the development sites in Cumbria and North Wales.

“The Nuclear AMRC is dedicated to helping UK manufacturers win work in the nuclear sector, and expanding our research capabilities to tackle the challenges of advanced modular build will deliver real benefits to the UK supply chain. We look forward to working with Cammell Laird and other module manufacturers to develop new technical capabilities and help them compete globally on cost, quality and delivery.”

Cammell Laird Jonathan Brown

Working with the Nuclear AMRC will strengthen Cammell Laird’s unique and highly competitive package of engineering services, Brown added: “Cammell Laird offers reliable, cost effective and flexible solutions to multi billion pound industries crying out for experienced support. Cammell Laird has shown, in the maritime industry, it can be that anchor of system engineering, managing quality and providing schedule certainty. It takes responsibility for complex build projects such as the £150 million Sir David Attenborough polar ship delivering the engineering, manufacture, skills development and quality records.

“Working with the Nuclear AMRC we further develop our modular expertise, drawing on its formidable nuclear and wider academic expertise through its links with the University of Sheffield and the University of Manchester to make Cammell Laird’s offering even more compelling.”

Cammell Laird is one of the most famous names in British industry with roots tracing back to the early 19th century. Its 120-acre site on the river Mersey features four dry docks, a non-tidal wet basin, large modular construction hall and extensive covered workshops. Cammell Laird has been increasing its involvement in the UK’s nuclear sector for several years, and has collaborated with Nuclear AMRC members Nuvia and Ansaldo NES on modular manufacture for the civil nuclear sector.

Nuclear AMRC and EIC to work together to help UK companies

The Nuclear AMRC has signed a new agreement with the Energy Industries Council (EIC) to work together to promote global opportunities in the nuclear industry and help UK companies enter the sector.

EIC chief executive Stuart Broadley and Nuclear AMRC chief executive Mike Tynan signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) at an EIC conference hosted by the Nuclear AMRC on Tuesday 7 March.

EIC Nuclear AMRC

The MOU recognises the vital and complementary roles played by the two organisations and confirms that they will work together to ensure that UK suppliers already involved in the nuclear industry and those looking to enter the sector are supported.

As part of the agreement, the EIC and Nuclear AMRC will collaborate to produce events which showcase opportunities in the nuclear industry in the UK and around the world, with a strong emphasis on exporting UK capabilities.

The two organisations will also share the use of their state-of-the-art facilities for the benefit of EIC members, which are UK supply chain companies providing goods and services across the energy industries.

Both organisation will also share their knowledge and expertise to further develop the EIC’s world-leading project tracking database, EICDataStream, as well as to produce EIC nuclear sector reports which will enable EIC members to identify opportunities and plan their business development in this sector.

Commenting at the signing, EIC CEO Stuart Broadley said: “Mike Tynan and I both recognise the enormous potential that exists for our two organisations to work closely together to expand UK expertise into the global nuclear sector. I’m delighted to sign this MOU, which will help to formalise that recognition into a series of specific areas where our complementary skills, experience and knowledge can be brought together to work more effectively.”

Mike Tynan added: “We’re very excited to work with the EIC to help their members win work in the civil nuclear sector. Companies with established experience in the wider energy sector are ideally placed to succeed in the nuclear supply chain, and we’re here to help manufacturers develop their capabilities to meet the specific requirements of nuclear new build, operations and decommissioning.”

Nuclear AMRC to support Rolls-Royce SMR development

Rolls-Royce has confirmed that it is working with the Nuclear AMRC and industry partners to bring its proposed small modular reactor (SMR) to market in the UK.

The company is working with Amec Foster Wheeler, Nuvia and Arup in its bid to make SMRs a reality in the UK, with other partners to be identified shortly.

In the first phase of the programme, the Nuclear AMRC will carry out desktop studies on potential methods of manufacture for Rolls-Royce’s new SMR design, and carry out an assessment of the UK supply chain’s capabilities to make the reactor to the required standards.

RR SMR with logo

A statement released by Rolls-Royce said: “We are working with some of Britain’s most experienced civil engineering companies and nuclear research organisations to realise the huge potential of small modular reactors for the wider UK economy. We share a common belief that a home-grown SMR program can play a key role in strengthening the UK’s energy mix and security, while creating valuable intellectual property, exports and jobs. We are working together to deliver a whole power plant which could be up and running in just over a decade and provide a boost for the UK’s industrial strategy.”

Rolls-Royce is developing a modular reactor capable of providing 220–440MWe, depending on configuration, and compact enough to be transported by truck, train or barge. The reactor will use proven technology with a high degree of commercial or standardised components, and is designed specifically for factory manufacture and commissioning. Over 75 per cent of the design by cost is modular, opening up opportunities for UK supply chain companies to enter into volume manufacturing.

RR SMR truck

Rolls-Royce believes a UK SMR could provide a £100 billion boost to the UK economy between 2030 and 2050 if the companies involved are either UK-owned or have a strong UK presence. Developing an SMR in the UK for the world market could create up to 40,000 high-value British jobs and intellectual property, and create significant export opportunities. A 2014 report led by NNL forecast a potential global SMR market of 65–85GWe by 2035, valued at up to £400 billion; and a UK market of around 7GWe.

The UK government expressed support for domestic SMR development in the 2016 Budget, and is currently seeking to identify the best-value design for the UK through an open competition.

The 2016 Budget also included an allocation of at least £30 million for an SMR-enabling advanced manufacturing R&D programme to develop nuclear skills capacity.

RR SMR plant

Driving down production costs through innovative manufacturing techniques is the key to making SMRs economically viable. SMRs offer the nuclear industry the opportunity to become more like other high-value low-volume manufacturing sectors such as aerospace, where Rolls-Royce and the UK supply chain have proven expertise.

Manufacturing processes which could be exploited for SMRs include a range of machining techniques such as robotic machining, single-platform machining and cryogenic cooling, as well as supporting technologies such as intelligent fixturing and on-machine inspection. Advanced joining and near-net shape manufacturing processes such as electron beam welding, diode laser cladding, automated arc welding, bulk additive manufacturing and hot isostatic pressing also potentially offer significant savings in cost and lead time.

Many of these technologies are already being developed for civil nuclear applications by the Nuclear AMRC. The centre’s advanced machine tools and fabrication cells have been specified to work on representative-size parts for gigawatt-scale reactors, which means that they could also produce full-size prototypes for SMRs.

Rolls-Royce will also draw on the specialist expertise of other centres within the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, including the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry and the Advanced Forming Research Centre in Strathclyde.

Collaboration agreement with US Nuclear Infrastructure Council

The Nuclear AMRC has signed a new agreement with the US Nuclear Infrastructure Council (USNIC) to work together on research and development to support the UK civil nuclear programme.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by Jay Shaw, senior business development manager for the Nuclear AMRC, and David Blee, executive director of USNIC, during a visit to the Nuclear AMRC on 26 October.

USNIC signing

The agreement confirms that the two organisations will explore opportunities of mutual benefit in the UK civil nuclear programme, including work to support advanced technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs), as well as the UK’s new build and decommissioning programmes.

The agreement was signed during a USNIC mission to the UK’s key nuclear organisations, aimed at enhancing dialogue between the US and UK industries on SMRs, advanced reactors and advanced manufacturing.

“Supporting this trade mission gave us an excellent opportunity to showcase the UK’s nuclear manufacturing research capabilities, and to share our experiences with our American colleagues,” says Mike Tynan, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC. “Collaborating with USNIC will further develop our transatlantic relations and grow our scope for future knowledge sharing to better support the UK’s civil nuclear programme.”

“The Council is pleased to have tangible linkage with the Nuclear AMRC’s impressive innovation infrastructure complex and enterprising supply-chain initiatives,” says Blee. “There is much common ground on both sides of the Atlantic on small reactors deployment, and this agreement will buoy efforts to ensure that the manufacturing and supply-chain sectors rise to the challenge to ensure success in the UK market and globally.”

USNIC group

USNIC is the premier business consortium advocate for new nuclear energy and the promotion of the US supply chain.

During their mission to the UK, the USNIC delegation of nuclear industry executives also visited the National Nuclear Laboratory, Urenco’s Capenhurst facility, and the prospective SMR site at Trawsfynydd in North Wales; and took part in industry networking sessions in London and Manchester.

Single-platform breakthrough for tubesheet machining

Thousands of deep holes can be drilled through a 600mm tubesheet using a standard machining centre, Nuclear AMRC research has shown. The study could lead to significant savings in manufacturing cost and time for a range of heat exchanger tubesheets and support plates.

Typically measuring up to five metres in diameter with over 10,000 deep holes through 600mm of Inconel-clad steel, steam generator tubesheets represent the most demanding application in tubesheet drilling.

With a length-to-diameter ratio of over 30, these holes are challenging for standard drilling techniques, particularly given the number of holes that have to be produced with zero faults. These tubesheets are currently produced on a dedicated gun drilling machine, using a mineral oil lubricant that can present contamination risks to nuclear components, with a long cycle time which can cause bottlenecks.

A new generation of deep drilling tools could remove the need for a dedicated machine. “Lately, there’s been lots of progress in tooling design and materials,” says Miguel Garcia, senior research engineer in the Nuclear AMRC’s machining team. “Now, for the range of hole sizes we’re looking at for tubesheets, it is possible to drill them on a standard machine using soluble coolant.”

drilling test

In a project funded by the Nuclear AMRC research board of member companies, the machining team investigated whether these new drills could meet the demands of tubesheet manufacturers.

The team used the Starrag Heckert HEC1800, a large high-precision horizontal boring machine, to prove a selection of commercially available drills. Each was used to drill 600mm steel testpieces with Inconel end cladding. The researchers observed machine performance, chip formation and tool wear, then measured the accuracy of the holes with a 150mm CMM probe.

Although some of the tested tools could not successfully drill the full depth, the team identified a drill geometry and cutting parameters that produced deep holes of exceptional quality on a standard machine tool platform using off-the-shelf tooling.

Importantly, the holes were produced using a standard soluble coolant, allowing higher material removal rates. By saving minutes per hole, machining time for a full tubesheet can be cut by many days.

tubesheet cu

Single-platform machining of tubesheets will allow manufacturers to reduce costs and become more flexible. The technique could be particularly valuable to smaller businesses which will be able to produce a wide range of heat exchanger tubesheets and other components without investing in new machine tools.

“It adds a lot flexibility to the process, as you can do any other machining operation on the component in a single set-up – a dedicated machine will only drill,” Garcia notes. “You can reduce the risk of misalignment and the risks of moving the component across the factory, and you’re also reducing the footprint you need from multiple machines.”

Full results have been shared with members. Work continues to optimise the drilling process and reduce cycle time, and to improve robustness to meet industry standards. The team are also working with tool suppliers to test and develop new drill designs.

  • For more news on how the Nuclear AMRC is supporting industry through manufacturing R&D and supplier development, download our Q4 newsletter (4MB pdf).

Nuclear AMRC helping Westinghouse cut SMR costs and lead times

The Nuclear AMRC is continuing to work with Westinghouse Electric Company to reduce build lead times for the US group’s small modular reactor (SMR).

Nuclear AMRC engineers are working with Westinghouse and modular construction specialists from Cammell Laird on a new advanced manufacturing study. The study will explore potential design efficiencies which can reduce costs to customers while promoting growth in manufacturing within the UK.

“The Westinghouse SMR is an innovative, industry-leading technology that builds upon the company’s extensive reactor and fuel technology expertise,” said Jeff Benjamin, Westinghouse senior vice president for new plants and major projects. “The Nuclear AMRC has broad experience in design for the manufacture of large, complex parts for safety-critical applications, and its support will help to increase the efficiency of our design, while building on our specialised UK value proposition.”

Westinghouse SMR with logo

The study follows an initial advanced manufacturing study on the Westinghouse SMR reactor pressure vessel, one of the largest and most demanding parts of any reactor. That study, completed in April 2016, demonstrated that Westinghouse’s design had the potential to be efficiently manufactured in the UK.

The new study will focus on how the SMR design can allow for greater production efficiency through modular assembly techniques.

“Greater R&D focus on technologies surrounding SMR manufacture will reduce the risk, minimise the lead times, while significantly optimising cost and quality delivery performance,” said Mike Tynan, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC. “Design for assembly is one such area of interest which has the potential to significantly reduce construction costs and time, by minimising the amount of labour required on site.”

Heavy engineering group Cammell Laird has also been engaged by Westinghouse to work on the study.

“Cammell Laird has over 40 years’ experience in the design, manufacture, assembly and transport of large complex modules to a number of safety-critical sectors,” said Jonathan Brown, managing director of the Merseyside-based group. “We are pleased to bring this knowledge to support the Nuclear AMRC in undertaking the nuclear module study for Westinghouse.”

Westinghouse says that the study further demonstrates its commitment to partnering with the UK government to deploy the company’s SMR technology, and move the UK from buyer to global provider of the latest nuclear energy technology. Westinghouse also proposes to manufacture fuel for its SMR at its Springfields site in Lancashire.