News story

Global award for Sellafield board game

A board game that has helped teams at the Sellafield nuclear site overcome real decommissioning challenges has won a global innovation award.

Teams at Sellafield Ltd were actively involved in the design and development of the game
Teams at Sellafield Ltd were actively involved in the design and development of the game

The ‘Synergy’ game was developed for Sellafield Ltd by Vulcain Engineering Ltd, a French company with an office in Phoenix Enterprise Centre, Cleator Moor and with team members from its partner company Oxand Academy.

It won the innovation category in the international Institute of Asset Management awards in London this week, having been up against Atkins and the National Grid.

The game is designed to help train the site’s asset management team and support decision-making relating to asset management. Judges chose ‘Synergy’ for its originality and the tangible benefits it has brought to the business.

Teams at Sellafield Ltd were actively involved in the design and development of the game, which sees them spend Sellafield-minted money worth millions of pounds, on a range of facilities and infrastructure. It helps them make decisions relating to buildings, infrastructure, IT systems, equipment, vehicles and many more assets.

Lucy Hughes, Asset Management Standards and Assurance Manager, has been pleased with the impact the game has had. She said:

Asset Management (AM) can be rather a dry, abstract subject for many people, often difficult to understand. This game provides an innovative new way of delivering training - we are always looking at new ways to be informed.

There are 4 teams and they start off working separately with their own team mates and then by the end they are working together. There is a lot of science behind, it is not just a game.

Simon Spencer, Vulcain Engineering’s Principal Consultant in Cumbria who has also worked at Sellafield, explained that there are lots of benefits to using board games as a training tool:

Synergy is about making fundamentals of asset management interesting and enjoyable to learn. In a PowerPoint presentation, on average you will only take in about 6% of the information on the screen, in a face-to-face conversation, it’s about 20%, but with a simulation or an activity based tool like this, it will be up to 75%.

The original asset management board game wasn’t created for the nuclear industry or for Sellafield, so we adapted it to better reflect the operational challenges and decision-making processes of a live site.

Synergy brings to life the processes needed for anticipating problems, allocating the right budget, reducing costs where possible and understanding the impact on performance, but also recognises that compromises are necessary.

The game is usually played by between 8 and 12 people from various staff levels around Sellafield. It usually takes about 3 hours to complete and has been received well by nuclear and asset management professionals.

Published 26 November 2016