Asset management goes digital – Nuclear Engineering International

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The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) believes digital transformation is the future of its asset management. It aims to achieve savings of up to £ 150million per year through efficient data and information management. By Sean Butler


Under a four-year framework contract, Jacobs supports the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and its operating companies in asset management, including new digital ways of working.

Jacobs and his contractor PA Consulting provide this support by reviewing the current situation and developing a comprehensive strategy to bring best practices for continuous improvement in asset management across the NDA group.

Digital capability, throughout the asset lifecycle, can be enhanced by using integrated systems supported by standards and technical processes that connect people to data and information within the NDA group.

Sustainable management of the group’s assets involves balancing costs, risks and performance, and aligning its asset management activities with its vision and organizational values. The NDA wants to ensure that it delivers “lifetime” value through efficient asset performance and improved process productivity, and it wants to bring its asset information management up to modern standards.

The NDA is responsible for decommissioning 17 nuclear sites in England, Wales and Scotland, some dating back to the 1940s. These include Sellafield (Europe’s most complex nuclear site), the first generation (Magnox) nuclear power plants, the UK low-level waste repository in West Cumbria, the Dounreay fast reactor research site in Scotland and other research and fuel facilities.

Jacobs and PA Consulting are already working with Sellafield Ltd to introduce digital decision-making tools to optimize the reliability and availability of critical assets such as utilities, cranes and batteries. This involves installing sensors on the equipment to record the data. A digital twin is then created, which generates information to improve decision-making. The equipment can then be managed more efficiently and at a lower cost.

Digital work is a key part of effective asset management. It requires high-quality, consistent and reliable asset information and data. How this information is used is critical to improving decision making and optimizing assets.

Implementing the strategy also requires close collaboration, commitment, support and contribution from operating companies and their workforce, including subject matter experts and maintenance and service teams. engineering. To help you, we have brought in asset management specialists with proven track records in other regulated industries.

The geographic distribution of the NDA domain, the age and diverse nature of the sites, and the demographic profile of the workforce present some challenges in creating a standardized asset management process based on digital skills. However, the NDA is very excited about the potential of using digital asset management, making better use of data and information management.

The key objectives identified by Jacobs are as follows:

  • Reduce lifetime total cost of ownership through better decisions for asset maintenance and capital interventions;
  • Reduce operating expenses by improving operational efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Improve safety in critical inspection and maintenance activities;
  • Reduce the time it takes to achieve these results through better prioritization of efforts and budgets and an agile and innovative approach to implementing change.

Jacobs and PA Consulting worked with the NDA team of experts to produce guidance documents for the engineering manual and strategic asset management plan. He also performed a peer review of NDA’s key performance indicators for maintenance work, and a review that highlighted the huge opportunity to harness the benefits of technology and innovation.

He also developed a best practice model for the future management, maintenance and operation of a particular class of cranes, using digital twin technology for condition-based monitoring. This has been aligned with a test case to provide best operating and maintenance practices that can be used for all similar crane systems across the NDA domain.

These are examples of the first steps in a one-year transformation program. However, transforming the NDA park is a bigger challenge, as it includes multiple organizations, each with their own internal governance, processes and standards, often with pronounced differences between and within each operating company. Jacobs and PA work with the NDA to help improve the consistency and efficiency of asset management across the NDA group, without undermining the NDA’s decommissioning mission.


About the Author

Sean Butler is Operational Commercial Director for Jacobs. It manages the NDA asset management framework



Sean Butler is Operational Commercial Director for Jacobs. It manages the NDA asset management framework



Digital asset management systems have been introduced at Sellafield (Photo credit: NDA)

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