Industry views wanted on new UK research hubs

The Nuclear AMRC is seeking views from manufacturers on new regional R&D hubs to provides additional support in key areas of nuclear technology.

The Nuclear AMRC has launched the consultation to gauge demand from companies working in the nuclear industry and other advanced manufacturing sectors.

The consultation seeks views on what additional capabilities will deliver the most value to industry. Proposed technical areas include advanced construction techniques, equipment qualification, testing, and innovative electrical control and instrumentation (C&I) technologies.

consultation map

“The development of new advanced capabilities is an opportunity to bring high value opportunities such as C&I to the forefront of research and innovation in the UK, alongside initiatives such as modular construction and equipment qualification,” says Andrew Storer, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC.

“We have already opened our R&D centre for modularisation technologies in Birkenhead, and are keen to explore what other important areas require intervention. New R&D capabilities will help reduce costs and lead time for the nuclear industry and other industries which can benefit from research in this area.”

The UK has a solid base of academic and industrial experience in many areas of technology, but a limited amount of nuclear-specific research. New build reactor vendors typically carry out research in their home country.

Increasing the UK’s C&I research capability, for example, would help the domestic supply chain move from legacy analogue systems used in existing plant, to the digital and wireless technologies systems used in new reactor designs. That would enable the UK to compete for more C&I work in operations, decommissioning, new build and future reactor development, and reduce project costs.

The consultation will seek views from the nuclear industry, academia, regional authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), as well as cross-sectoral input from other high-value industries such as construction, rail, aerospace, automotive and marine.

The Nuclear AMRC is now contacting its members and other companies it is supporting through its manufacturing innovation and supply chain development work, including manufacturers taking part in the Fit For Nuclear programme. The centre also welcomes input from any other interested company or stakeholder.


New portal links nuclear buyers with Fit For Nuclear manufacturers

Nuclear industry buyers have a new tool for identifying nuclear-ready suppliers with the launch of F4N Connect.

F4N Connect is a fully-searchable online database of UK manufacturers who have demonstrated their ability to meet the expectations of the civil nuclear industry. All listed companies have been granted Fit For Nuclear status after successfully completing the flagship supplier development programme run by the Nuclear AMRC.

F4N Connect laptop

Helen Arthur, supply chain development programme manager at the Nuclear AMRC, says: “F4N Connect is designed to help nuclear buyers find suppliers they can trust to meet their specific requirements. Whether you need a nuclear-qualified fabricator in the South West, a precision machinist near Sellafield, or a choice of companies who can quote for a complex heat exchanger, F4N Connect will let you find and contact suppliers who can do the job. 

“With Horizon Nuclear Power moving ahead with new build on Anglesey after securing approval for the ABWR, EDF Energy well underway with Hinkley Point C, and the continuing decommissioning programme around the UK, there are huge opportunities for manufacturers who can demonstrate that they’re ready to win work in nuclear.

“Fit For Nuclear has become the industry benchmark for nuclear-ready manufacturers, with hundreds of companies across the UK using the programme to enhance their capabilities and business performance. F4N Connect gives them an independent shop window, and lets them show potential customers exactly what they can offer.”

Delivered exclusively by the Nuclear AMRC – part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult – Fit For Nuclear (F4N) lets UK manufacturers measure their operations against the standards required to supply the nuclear industry, and take the necessary steps to close any gaps.

More than 130 UK manufacturers have been granted F4N after driving improvements with the support of the Nuclear AMRC’s industrial advisors and nuclear supply chain specialists.

Participating companies range from contract manufacturers with no nuclear experience taking a first step into the sector, to established suppliers wanting to benchmark their position and drive business excellence. Most are SMEs operating at tier three or four of the nuclear supply chain, ranging from suppliers of nuclear-grade steels and forgings, to precision machinists, fabricators and specialist service providers.

The interactive F4N Connect portal allows companies working on nuclear projects (typically at tier two or three) to find suppliers and sub-contractors to meet their specific needs. Companies can search by:

  • Capabilities
  • Products & services
  • Facilities – machining, welding & cladding, inspection & testing, design
  • Sectors
  • Region

F4N-granted companies can also use their F4N Connect profiles to provide additional information about their products, accreditations and capabilities, including testimonials and case studies.

Listings are freely available to all companies which have been granted F4N. The database is independently managed by the Nuclear AMRC as a service to F4N companies – companies cannot pay for placement.

More than 65 F4N-granted companies completed their full profile before launch, with others in progress.

ABWR approved for UK development

New reactors in North Wales have moved a step closer as the Hitachi-GE Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) has been approved for construction in the UK.

Horizon Nuclear Power plans to build two 1300MWe ABWRs at the Wylfa Newydd site on Anglesey by the mid-2020s; followed by two at Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

The ABWR has now completed the generic design assessment (GDA) managed by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Environment Agency with Natural Resources Wales. This assessment is intended to support the construction of a number of new nuclear power stations by approving a standard reactor design which can be built in different locations by different developers.

ONR has now issued a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and the environment agencies have issued a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) to Hitachi-GE. This means that the regulators are satisfied that the ABWR meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental protection at this stage of the regulatory process.

Each build will still require a site-specific licence. Horizon expects to obtain all necessary licences for Wylfa Newydd by the end of 2018.


ONR chief nuclear inspector Mark Foy commented: “The completion of the generic design assessment of the UK ABWR is a significant step in our regulation of the overall process to construct this type of reactor in the UK, ensuring that the generic design meets the highest standards of safety that we expect in this country. We’re already working on our assessment of Horizon’s site licence application and on the development of the site specific safety case to progress, in due course, the construction and operation of these reactors at Wylfa Newydd.”

Tadashi Kume, president & representative director of Hitachi-GE, said: “Meeting the famously high standards of the UK regulators  and completing GDA within our five year target further demonstrates the strength of this project, and capability of the team delivering it. GDA is a thorough and rigorous assessment, and receiving approval on schedule is a credit to the outstanding design of the UK ABWR.”

Andrew Storer, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC, welcomed the announcement: “This is great news for the progress of the UK’s nuclear new build programme. Wylfa Newydd will bring significant opportunities for UK manufacturers and, as the project moves into the delivery phase, we look forward to working with Horizon to develop its UK supply chain.”

Horizon estimates that around 60 per cent by value of the first reactor will be sourced in the UK, with more local input into later plant. Hitachi-GE has signed agreements with Rolls-Royce and Babcock International to plan and deliver the programme, and will establish an assembly facility for its modular construction technology in the UK.

Manufacturers can register their interest via Horizon Nuclear Power supplier registration.


New support for next-generation nuclear technology

The government has launched a new package of support for the next generation of reactor technology, including funding to develop technologies for advanced modular reactors.

Details have also been released of the proposed nuclear sector deal, part of the UK’s new industrial strategy.

The government is offering funding over the next three years to support research and development into innovative advanced and small modular reactors, and to assess their feasibility and accelerate the development of promising designs.

The new government support includes up to £56 million funding for a two-stage advanced modular reactor (AMR) research programme.

In the first stage, companies and research institutions can bid for a share of £4 million funding for AMR feasibility projects through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). Up to £40 million follow-on funding may then be made available to projects which can demonstrate clear value for money.

The government also released the techno-economic assessment of small modular reactors (SMRs), part of the previous support programme for UK SMR development, which has now closed.

Other new measures include:

  • Up to £7 million funding to further develop the capability of nuclear regulators to support and assess advanced nuclear technologies.
  • £86 million for the UK Atomic Energy Authority to establish a new Nuclear Fusion Technology Platform.
  • An expert finance group to advise how small reactor projects could raise private investment in the UK.
  • A second phase of the Nuclear Innovation Programme, including up to £8 million for work on modern safety and security methodologies and studies in advanced fuels.
  • A consultation on updating the planning framework for new gigawatt-scale nuclear power stations.
  • Two consultations on the proposed Geological Disposal Facility.

Speaking at the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference, energy minister Richard Harrington said: “As we set out in our industrial strategy, the nuclear sector has a key role to play in increasing productivity and driving clean growth across the country. Nuclear is a vital part of our energy mix, providing low carbon power now and into the future so today’s package of new measures will help to boost innovation and provide greater clarity on our future plans.”

sector deal graphic

Details of the proposed nuclear sector deal were unveiled by the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC), a strategic advisory body comprising industry and government representatives. The Nuclear AMRC is a member of the NIC.

The proposed sector deal aims to maximise the potential for the nuclear sector to achieve the aims of the national industrial strategy. Proposals to deliver the maximum economic value to the UK include:

  • A new national supply chain programme, including demand modelling, to be delivered by the Nuclear AMRC.
  • Support for the development of new advanced capabilities through partnerships on modular manufacturing, advanced construction, equipment qualification, and control and instrumentation.
  • Clarity on future trade arrangements and support for exports, including a nuclear trade strategy.

Download the NIC nuclear sector deal proposals (pdf).


Civil nuclear worth £6.4 billion to UK economy

A new study shows that the UK’s civil nuclear sector contributed £6.4 billion to the national economy last year – equivalent to the aerospace manufacturing industry.

The report also finds that the civil nuclear industry’s 65,000 employees are among the most productive workforces in the country.

The first Nuclear Activity Report, compiled by Oxford Economics and commissioned by the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), examines the economic impact of the civil nuclear power industry and its supply chains.

It finds that the sector’s economic impact increases to £12.4 billion and 155,000 jobs when the sector’s spend in the supply chain and wages spent by employees are taken into account. This includes around £650 million of indirect impact in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

NIA economic impact

The report highlights the role played by the Nuclear AMRC’s Fit For Nuclear and Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth programmes in helping UK manufacturers enter and succeed in the nuclear manufacturing supply chain.

To date, around 630 organisations have taken the initial F4N assessment, with more than 130 being granted F4N. Participating companies showcased in the report include heat exchanger manufacturer Heatric, pump manufacturer Hayward Tyler, and steel specialist Outokumpu Stainless Distribution.

The report also highlights the importance of research and innovation within the nuclear sector, including the Nuclear AMRC’s collaboration with member company Cammell Laird to develop modular manufacturing methods for the sector. Innovations from R&D activity diffuse throughout the economy, the report notes, providing benefits far wider than the sector itself and raising productivity across the economy.

Andrew Storer, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC, commented: “This study emphasises the important contribution of the UK supply chain capability and capacity. As we replace existing generating plants with new technology, it is vital we ensure innovative R&D is delivered to further improve productivity and give the UK supply chain the technical capabilities to win work globally.

“Our research into manufacturing innovation and our Fit For Nuclear programme will help more UK companies enter the sector, as well as improve the current incumbents.”

The report shows that the benefits of the civil nuclear sector are felt across the country, with the industry’s activities supporting £1 in every £50 of economic output in the north-west and south-west of England.

NIA chief executive Tom Greatrex said: “For the first time we have comprehensive data which shows the important role the UK’s civil nuclear sector plays in generating highly skilled and well paid jobs, making a significant contribution to the economy and supplying low carbon electricity to keep the lights on.

“The UK’s nuclear sector is a vital part of the UK’s industrial heritage and the government’s industrial strategy, and the work being undertaken to bring forward a nuclear sector deal will be vital to underpinning and ultimately increasing this contribution.”

CNSIG wins NDA award

Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth, the high-intensity supplier development programme led by the Nuclear AMRC and Rolls-Royce, has won the Capability and Capacity Award at the NDA supply chain awards 2017.

The annual awards recognise the vital contribution of suppliers to the UK’s nuclear clean-up mission. Winners were announced at the NDA Estate Supply Chain Event, held in Manchester on 2 November.

The Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth programme (CNSIG) is developing the UK manufacturing supply chain for civil nuclear – in new build, operations and decommissioning – to help UK companies win work in the nuclear industry at home and overseas. CNSIG is part-funded by government through the Regional Growth Fund and by Rolls-Royce.

NDA awards 2017

The participating companies are receiving a four-year programme of business development and training, tailored to the specific needs of their business, supported by £1 million match-funding for each company. This includes shopfloor manufacturing improvement, process improvement, leadership development and specific nuclear sector knowledge.

To date (end of September 2017), the participating companies have reported that CNSIG has helped them secure around £507 million of orders, creating or safeguarding 6,040 jobs, and have committed an additional £51.6 million private investment. The current programme runs until December 2017.

One of the CNSIG participants, James Fisher Nuclear, was highly commended for the NDA Collaboration Award for its innovative use of UAVs to assess the structural integrity of buildings at Sellafield.

Other winners included Nuvia, a tier two member of the Nuclear AMRC, which won the Technology Innovation Implementation Award for dismantling a 61 metre  separation area head end stack at Sellafield.

£20 million Magnox work for DavyMarkham

The Nuclear AMRC’s newest member company has secured a £20 million contract to produce waste containers for Magnox.

Sheffield-based heavy engineering specialist DavyMarkham will work with its sister company, Amber Precast, to design, test and construct transportable 6m3 concrete containers for intermediate-level waste (ILW) from the Magnox reactors. DavyMarkham is creating a new dedicated plant and up to 50 jobs at its site in Darnall to carry out the work.

“Being awarded this supply contract for concrete ILW containers is a step forward for DavyMarkham in its drive to become the UK leader in providing high integrity containers to the nuclear industry,” says Bill Clark, DavyMarkham managing director.

“It’s good to see the government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority supporting strategic UK manufacturing companies which benefit the UK’s nuclear decommissioning industry as well as securing UK jobs. Importantly, it also provides UK manufacturers export opportunities with overseas buyers who are looking for innovative high-integrity products in support of safe decommissioning.”

The four-year contract will draw on DavyMarkham’s expertise in high quality steel fabrications for container casings and handling features, and the precast concrete capabilities of Derbyshire-based Amber Precast. Both firms are part of the Hughes-Armstrong Industries group.

Once the final design and manufacturing methodology have been approved, Magnox will require more than 1,000 of these 6m3 boxes to store various types of intermediate-level waste from the operational and early decommissioning phases of its UK power stations.

DavyMarkham Magnox

With a history going back to 1830, DavyMarkham is a leader in the design, manufacture and assembly of large equipment for mining, power generation, oil, gas and nuclear sectors. Since Clark led a buyout of the company in 2014 alongside Hughes-Armstrong, DavyMarkham has increasingly positioned itself at the top end of the manufacturing technology spectrum.

The contract was announced as DavyMarkham joined the Nuclear AMRC as a tier two member

“Membership of the Nuclear AMRC demonstrates DavyMarkham’s commitment to participating in the nuclear supply chain through collaboration and innovation with key strategic partners,” says Dr Alan Thompson, director of quality at DavyMarkham.

“We will work with the centre’s engineers and partners to create production routes where technological developments and manufacturing excellence will deliver the required quality at an acceptable cost, and extend our research programme to reduce costs and manufacturing lead times.”

DavyMarkham works with nuclear customers including Sellafield Ltd, AWE and Rolls-Royce. The firm completed the Fit For Nuclear programme in March 2016, and appointed industry veteran John Cheek as nuclear and defence director in October.

F4N support for Welsh manufacturers

Welsh manufacturers wanting to get ready for opportunities in the nuclear industry can now claim additional support from the Welsh Government.

Economy secretary Ken Skates announced a second tranche of funding worth £450,000 to support 50 Welsh companies through the Fit For Nuclear programme.

“The nuclear sector will provide a wide range of business opportunities over the next 20 years and we want to ensure that businesses in Wales are in a position to bid for and win a share of this business,” said Skates. “In Wales, research has identified that Welsh businesses have the potential, with the relevant accreditations and organisational systems, to compete for a significant proportion of nuclear sector contracts both in Wales and further afield, and Welsh Government is eager to support business efforts to maximise their share for the benefit of the Welsh economy.”

F4N skyline

Fit For Nuclear (F4N) is a unique service, developed and delivered by the Nuclear AMRC, to help UK manufacturers get ready to bid for work in the civil nuclear supply chain. The programme enables companies to measure their operations against the standards required to supply the nuclear industry – in new build, operations and decommissioning – and take the necessary steps to close any gaps.

The Welsh Government is currently supporting an initial 20 companies through the programme.

“The 20 Welsh companies currently working through the F4N programme have highlighted the wealth of high-quality manufacturers in Wales which could meet the demands of the nuclear industry,” said Helen Arthur, F4N programme manager. “We are very excited to continue working with the Welsh Government to make sure that more Welsh manufacturers can access our support and get ready to win work in the nuclear supply chain at home and worldwide.”

Expressions of interest are now being sought from businesses in Wales wishing to participate in the F4N programme – companies must register by 9 August 2017.

Eligible companies must have a manufacturing facility in Wales, a turnover of £1.6m or above and employ 10 or more people. For more information and to register interest, go to the Business Wales F4N site or email


Horizontal innovation challenge seeks innovative SMEs

UK SMEs can claim up to £50,000 of R&D support to develop their technologies for new industrial sectors including civil nuclear.

The new Horizontal Innovation programme, led by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), is seeking innovative UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs) whose technology can be adapted and commercialised to solve societal and industry challenges in sectors that are new to the company.

Horizontal innovation promotes the transfer of technology from one sector to another. The new programme offers UK SMEs access to advanced technology support to enable their innovation or product to be commercialised and help solve problems in one of seven sector categories: healthcare, agri-tech, energy, food and drink, transport, construction and nuclear.

horizontal innovation

The nuclear challenge covers three broad technology areas:

  • Automation and mechanisation to support in-process inspection and verification, component manipulation and movement, and handling of hazardous waste.
  • Assembly and fabrication, covering modular manufacturing, in-process and through-life monitoring, and tracking and alignment of large assemblies.
  • Digital manufacturing for low-volume production, including enhanced workplace visualisation, digital workflow, and virtual training.

Proposals must be based on the use of wholly or mostly pre-existing technology which has not previously been used in the challenge sector. The winner in each category will be awarded up to £50,000 worth of applied R&D support to help adapt and scale up their innovation for the new application.

The new Horizontal Innovation programme builds on a pilot programme in 2016, when the IET teamed up with the Manufacturing Technology Centre to call for UK SMEs to solve a healthcare challenge. Warwickshire-based 3P innovation was awarded £35,000 to repurpose a simple ketchup and mayonnaise sauce squeezy bottle technology to help address catheter-associated urinary tract infections in UK hospitals.

IET president Jeremy Watson CBE said: “The IET’s Horizontal Innovation Programme offers financial support to SMEs to bring exciting and industry-cutting innovations to market. The UK is internationally renowned for its creativity, research and innovation, but often technologies or processes can get locked into one sector or industry. We want to break down barriers to sharing ideas to enable innovations to be used where they are needed, and not just in the sector in which they are created.

“Our aim is to reward and recognise some of the UK’s most promising small businesses in using horizontal innovation to deliver economic and societal benefits.”

HVM Catapult chief technology officer Sam Turner said: “Taking learning and technology from one sector and adapting it to achieve success in another sector is a core part of what we do. Our work with the construction industry, for example, involves introducing established manufacturing technologies from aerospace and automotive into a construction setting. This is proving to be a speedy, cost-effective and lower-risk way of innovating which has the potential to create real benefit, particularly for small and medium-sized companies.”

To be considered for the programme, SMEs should submit a proposal that demonstrates how their technology solution can be used and commercialised to solve a real-life issue in one of the seven sectors.

Online applications are open until 31 July 2017. For more information and to apply, visit


Fit For Nuclear delivering real impact

Nine out of 10 companies which have joined the Fit For Nuclear programme would recommend it to other manufacturers, according to a new survey.

Fit For Nuclear (F4N) is a unique service which lets manufacturers measure their operations against the standards required to supply the nuclear industry – in new build, operations and decommissioning – and helps them take the necessary steps to close any gaps. F4N is delivered exclusively by the Nuclear AMRC, and supported by top-tier partners in nuclear new build and decommissioning.

Around 600 UK manufacturers have now taken the initial F4N online assessment, with most receiving ongoing support from the Nuclear AMRC’s industrial advisors and nuclear specialists. Completing the programme requires commitment and drive from senior managers, and typically takes 12–18 months.

Almost 100 companies at all stages of their F4N journey responded to the survey request in February. Nearly all are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Almost half of respondents said that they have already experienced meaningful business benefits, from demonstrable improvements in HSEQ measures to greater awareness of nuclear opportunities. A significant proportion say they have won new orders or enquiries as a result of their F4N journey – many more say it’s simply made their business better.

Around a quarter of companies said they would not have tried to develop their capabilities for nuclear sector if F4N support had not been available.

The survey results will help the Nuclear AMRC develop the F4N service to provide additional value to manufacturers.

“We welcome the frank comments in the survey about how we can refine the F4N service, and where manufacturers want to see additional support,” says Nuclear AMRC chief executive Mike Tynan. “One consistent message is the need for ongoing support after F4N granting, to make sure that companies can identify relevant opportunities and successfully bid for work. We are currently developing a number of new services to meet this demand.”

The survey also shows the appetite from SMEs for innovative R&D – 80 per cent of respondents said they would consider working with the Nuclear AMRC to solve their manufacturing problems and develop their capabilities, or are already doing so.

“Advanced technical capabilities and high-impact innovation are increasingly vital factors to winning nuclear work,” notes Tynan. “With the UK’s new build programme finally progressing, and the decommissioning programme reaching out to new suppliers, it’s a great time to start your F4N journey if you haven’t already.”

Download the full impact survey report.

F4N survey17

What manufacturers say about F4N:

  • “F4N is essential for companies who need to improve their status.” – David Toone, W Maass
  • “We are early on our improvement programme, however we are seeing significant improvements in the way our business operates.” – Peter Bruch, AE Aerospace
  • “F4N has forced us to think through every aspect of our business systems and ensure that they meet best practice.” – Jeremy Kemsley-Pein, Heatsense Cables
  • “We have over 20 years’ experience in the nuclear industry and we see F4N being very important for us to be considered for future new build projects.” – Paul Bunn, S&H Systems Design and Installation
  • “Great programme. More help with the next steps would enhance it further.” – Matthew Heaton, DAE Systems
  • “It will definitely change the company for the better, and well worth all the hard work.” – Chris Steele, WKW Precision Engineering

Start your F4N journey today.