SMEs in the manufacturing sector must place more emphasis on quality and health and safety if they are going to make the most of the opportunities offered by the nuclear industry.
This is the opinion of John Ransford, who is an assessor for the Fit For Nuclear (F4N) initiative, which helps UK manufacturing companies get ready to bid for work in the civil nuclear supply chain.
Mr Ransford see this as an exciting time for the industry, with the Government intending to invest at least £60 billion in UK new build, with three development groups set to establish 16GW of new capacity at five sites around England and Wales over the next 10-20 years.
However, he said that “a completely different mind-set” is required by management teams looking to enter the industry for the first time, “with speed and cost ‘playing second fiddle’ to exacting standards and a world-class health and safety record”.
He said: “For a long time, manufacturers have had it drummed into them that they need to deliver quicker and take cost out of the equation, but nuclear is different. Of course, they are looking for you to meet delivery dates and not be over-priced, but there is more of a partnership approach to working with suppliers, in order to get the critical parts and services that are required.
“The minimum quality requirement is ISO 9000, but companies will also need to prove that they are working towards securing ISO 14001 (environmental) and ISO 18001 (health and safety). In addition, they will have to demonstrate the right culture and behaviour, invest in training and show that they can achieve zero accidents in the production of their parts or the delivery of their services.”
The F4N initiative was established by the Manufacturing Advisory Service and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
Backed by partners such as Areva and EDF Energy, it offers a “business improvement journey” that will identify strategy, implement new processes, secure necessary accreditations and provide supplier-matching opportunities. It also offers participating SMEs the chance to apply for match funding for business improvement or R&D projects.
For further information about the initiative, visit the Web site (www.fitfornuclear.co.uk
) or contact MAS on 020 7728 3026.