More than 300 small manufacturers are set to benefit from support to access the UK’s rapidly developing £60bn civil nuclear new build programme.
The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) has joined forces with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to roll-out Fit for Nuclear (F4N), which lets companies measure their capabilities against industry standards and helps them bridge gaps to meet requirements.
Backed by partners including Areva and EDF Energy, the initiative 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.
Steven Barr, head of MAS, explained: “There is great potential for advanced manufacturing SMEs to build business in the civil nuclear sector. Following approval for Hinkley Point, we can expect these opportunities to increase in new build, as well as in decommissioning and existing station maintenance.
“We recognise they need help to understand the nature of the opportunities that are opening up and to prepare for them.”
He continued: “Working side-by-side with the Nuclear AMRC, we are widening access to F4N and ensuring more smaller manufacturers receive expert on-the-ground support and funding to take advantage of this multi-bullion pound market.”
To date, around 150 companies have completed the online Fit for Nuclear assessment, with the majority receiving ongoing support and development from the Nuclear AMRC team.
Funding from the government’s Regional Growth Fund Sharing in Growth programme and bringing in MAS has opened the initiative to another 300 SMEs, with the focus on engaging the wider manufacturing supply chain, including control and instrumentation, electrical and other sub-contractors.
F4N participants can also take advantage of the Nuclear AMRC’s Nuclear Connections initiative, which helps link manufacturers to specific supply opportunities from the industry’s top tiers.
This is based on an understanding of the production capabilities of individual companies and matching these to current and upcoming tenders, including the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s estate.
“At little or no cost to the participating company, F4N can deliver real business value regardless of your current nuclear sector knowledge or experience,” added Martin Ride, a purchasing manager with Rolls-Royce, now working as supply chain consultant at the Nuclear AMRC.
“This is one of the easiest and most straightforward sector-based programmes to access, participate in, and get incredible value from, and which can lead to increased opportunities.”
F4N starts with a capability questionnaire and online assessment, which will then be followed by a site visit from a dedicated F4N Assessor.
They will start developing an action plan that will be verified by industry experts before a nuclear specialist is appointed to deliver the objectives and ensure you’re in the best position to win work.
Any English SME can apply for match funding, subject to reaching the required stage in the Fit for Nuclear journey, with the average grant expected to be around £10,000.
Steven Barr concluded: “The first new nuclear plant is likely to come online in the 2020s, but orders for the bulk of plant and services are expected to start developing from next year. Now is the time for small manufacturers to act.”
Further information can be found here.