The annual awards recognise the vital contribution of suppliers to the UK’s nuclear clean-up mission and were among the highlights of the NDA Group Supply Chain Event, held at EventCity.
Open to suppliers of all sizes, entries were submitted in 5 categories covering:
Best Technical Innovation to benefit an NDA Business
Best Approach to Ethical Practice or Social Responsibility
Best Supply Chain Collaboration
Best People Strategy
Best Export of a Product, Technology or Services
A separate Minister’s SME award was selected from all the individual entries.
Chair of the judging panel Ron Gorham, the NDA’s Head of Commercial Standards and SME Champion, said:
Our suppliers play an absolutely vital role in delivering timely, cost-effective decommissioning across our sites, and we are always delighted to acknowledge their contribution, and to celebrate the successes. The standard of entries this year was again extremely high, and the judges and I were particularly pleased with the dedication, creativity and determination shown from companies large and small.
These awards celebrate the commitment of our supply chain together with the value they bring on a daily basis to our decommissioning mission, and also support the UK government’s Industrial Strategy and the Nuclear Sector Deal. Our suppliers are uniquely positioned to continue to be successful not just at home but also abroad.
1. Technical Innovation
Technical innovation is the beneficial application of a new technology or technique, or the deployment of an old technology or technique in a new way.
WINNER: Cavendish Nuclear and Sellafield Ltd
Project: Plutonium Hold-Up Measurement System (PHUMS)
PHUMS is a novel approach to characterising alpha-contaminated environments that has potential to be of value across decommissioning sites and the wider nuclear industry. Using new, fast neutron detector technology, characterising large alpha-contaminated environments can be carried out safer, faster and at lower cost. Four active demonstrations carried out at Sellafield showed PHUMS could be 4 times faster and one-third the price of the current approach, as well as easier to deploy.
The use of naturally occurring high-energy cosmic rays (muons) to view the contents of shielded containers. The system, which can distinguish between different materials, has applications for legacy containers, eg, Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) drums, as well as new thermal treatments and future encapsulation plants.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Croft Associates Ltd
Project: Transport package
Design and fabrication of regulator-approved heat-resistant package for the accelerated shipment of exotic materials from Dounreay to Sellafield site.
2. Approach to Ethical Practice or Social Responsibility
This award recognises positive behaviours in doing business ethically, or delivering social and economic benefits while working in the NDA Group.
WINNER: Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster
Project: Business Schools Collaboration Project (BSCP)
The BSCP brings together schools and businesses to co-ordinate meaningful careers activities for all 15 west Cumbrian secondary schools. This supports the national strategy to embed careers and “meaningful encounters with enterprise” into schools, with support from business but through a planned and collaborative approach.
A new collaboration between competing businesses to deliver 3m3 boxes, combining different approaches and shared learning to avoid duplication, improve problem-solving, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Overcoming traditional business rivalries to develop mutual trust and respect has led to ongoing informal collaboration that benefits all parties.
Innovative decommissioning technology currently under development by Createc and Costain, D:EEP uses a spectral analysis technique to provide a non-intrusive picture of the penetration depth of contamination in concrete, deployed remotely.
Project: Design of Sellafield Re-Treatment Plant (SRP)
The SRP, scheduled to open in 2025, will receive special nuclear material from existing stores and process it into a form suitable for safe, secure long-term storage. Collaboration between a team of more than 300 people has ensured schedule adherence, technical innovations and significant savings.
4. People Strategy
Best practice demonstrated by suppliers in either skills development, recruitment, or equality, diversity and inclusion.
WINNER: Lakes College
Project: Skills Development Cycle
Combining the skills development expertise of college staff with direct industry partnerships to provide broad-reaching vocational education that reflects employer needs, while ensuring students gain professional qualifications and are fully ready for the workplace. New degree courses have been introduced, tailored to the nuclear industry, along with apprenticeships, while bridging programmes have enabled non-traditional entrants to study gain employment in the sector.
An award to recognise the successful export overseas of, products, technology and services originally conceived or implemented within the NDA Group.
WINNER: Barrnon Limited
Project: Rotocutter (incorporating Bladecutter)
Innovative robotic platform to cut up and remove solid waste remaining in underground tanks at Hanford, US, after the pumping out high-hazard radioactive liquid. Bladecutter was originally developed as a dredging system for Hunterston A.
Lightweight handheld instrument that allows faster and safer gamma surveys by combining two of Createc’s proven technologies: autonomous navigation and real-time estimates of radiation sources.
6. Minister’s SME award
The Minister’s Award is selected from all submissions and recognises the value, flexibility and innovation that SMEs bring to the mission.
WINNER: Viridian Consultants
Deployment of innovative portable laser-sampling tool that can be used remotely or manually, in place of conventional drilling for safe, clean and fast sampling of material such as concrete, wood, plastic and brick.