KB » Collaboration

Summary: Why should NSSS suppliers collaborate on new plant construction and startup?
Categories: Primary System, Bal of Plant, Piping, Welds, Pumps, Vessel, I&C, Containment
Applies to: Test engineer, Startup engineer, Design engineer, Technician, Supervisor
Collaboration by business competitors is not unusual. Generator Motors and Toyota assembled cars at its jointly owned automotive assembly plant in Fremont, California for many years. Collaboration among competitors in the electronics and semiconductor industries has been relatively widespread. A strategic alliance between competitors is intended to help both companies against their competition even though it may weaken one partner with respect to the other partner. It doesn't appear that the disadvantage of one partner relative to the other has reduced the desire of companies to form strategic alliances. They have concluded that its to the benefit of both parties. Such alliances are usually motivated by a desire to avoid significant expenditures associated with the development of new products or to penetrate new markets. Collaboration among commercial nuclear power related companies should be motivated by a sense of survival when constructing new plants.

Survival of commercial nuclear power in the US is dependent on how on-schedule and within budget new nuclear power plants like the AP 1000 plants, presently being built for Southern Nuclear and South Carolina Electric and Gas, will be. The nuclear power related companies (e.g., NSSS suppliers, architect engineering firms, suppliers, and construction companies) must work together, even on a competitors plant, during it's construction and startup phases to efficiently solve field related construction problems, and avoid schedule and budgetary issues. These companies must realize, before its too late, that there won't be a future market for commercial nuclear power plants if these first set of new plants experience excessive schedule delays and cost overruns.

To avoid excessive schedule delay and cost overrun, plant construction and startup efforts must minimize the detrimental effect that field problems have on being able to meet the originally scheduled date for plant operation. There is no denying that construction and startup issues will occur for large capital intensive projects such as a nuclear power plant. It happens in almost every industry building such large projects (LNG plants, steel making plants, refineries, super span bridges, etc) although these industries may also want to find a way to eliminate this unfortunate characteristic.

One reason there are problems appearing during construction is that their solutions require usually application of tacit ((intangible) knowledge. The construction industry in general can not be liken to the manufacturing industry in this regard. Many of the issues confronted by field personnel during construction of a large capital intensive project require more than just an understanding of design drawings and documented startup procedures. Problems appearing in the field require specialized knowledge and problem-solving know-how. Such knowledge include estimating and tendering skills acquired over time during previous project work (such as experiencing similar problems for which real time solutions were developed), understanding the construction process, and learning from interaction with clients/customers and project personnel involved in the supply chain.

It is recommended that all commercial nuclear reactor vendors, construction companies and architect engineers support each other in resolving issues that occur through the building and startup phases of a commercial nuclear power plant. Companies should not be reticent in participating in this kind activity for fear of helping a competitor or giving away intellectual property. If the industry disappears in the early stage of its second revival, there won't be an industry left for competition to exist. Nuclear related design and construction companies have plenty of areas on which to compete. But first these companies must ensure that these early plants are efficiently and effectively built. This requires cooperation during plant construction and startup, not competition. This situation is no different than, for example when semiconductor companies work together in research and development of semiconductor technology, or automobile manufacturers produce a new car model together. Now its time for the commercial nuclear industry to do the same. Participating in this Wiki web site for nuclear power plant construction and startup is an obvious way to start this collaboration towards commercial success for the entire industry.


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Topic revision: r1 - 2014-12-28 - TWikiAdminUser

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