Call for Innovation: Physical Asset Management.

Sellafield Ltd and EDF Energy are seeking innovative asset management solutions which will enable them to uniquely identify new assets throughout their entire lifecycles from procurement through to decommissioning.

Applications are invited for technological solutions to meet this challenge.

Deadline for applications is 21 June, 2019 at 12:00

The Situation

After a gap of over 20 years, the UK is once again seeing the construction of new nuclear power stations. Two new nuclear reactors are being constructed by EDF Energy at Hinkley Point C in Somerset in a multi-billion pound project. They will be the first in a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

To support their nuclear decommissioning and environmental remediation efforts, Sellafield Ltd also have a multi-billion pound investment plan over the next 20 years for the construction of several new nuclear waste processing facilities and stores at the Sellafield site in West Cumbria.

As with any major construction project, this activity is resulting in a wide variety of equipment which needs to be procured, stored, erected and installed by both EDF Energy and Sellafield Ltd.

The equipment includes highly complex and extremely high value physical assets, which are sourced from a variety of vendors, partners and suppliers. The civil structures themselves and the associated utilities are equally complex.

Sellafield Ltd and EDF Energy are seeking innovative asset management solutions which will enable them to uniquely identify these new assets throughout their entire lifecycles from procurement through to decommissioning.

Current Practices

It is a well understood challenge that consistency in applying numbering to new assets isn’t easily achieved and few systems are available to enable machine reading of labelling.

In addition, challenges can include suppliers using diverse numbering systems. Equipment may also be supplied without specific identification which can create challenges when it is delivered to storage facilities and received by warehousing partners.

Asset identification is often undertaken manually by applying site walk downs and relying on personnel to know what they are looking at.

Associated records are then manually updated to note any changes in status, conditions or location.

  • Assets are often stored or installed inside buildings which would normally restrict the use of GPS technologies. This might influence technologies required to permit the use of ‘online / always connected’ mobile devices and additional security considerations need to be made when using wireless communications on nuclear sites.
  • Opportunities to physically or electronically identify assets may be impacted by some of them being grouped or clustered.
  • Assets may be contained within metallised containers during transportation and storage.
  • Supply of power for asset management devices may be limited.
  • Physical labelling of some assets may be difficult due to their shape, size or the environment in which they are located.
  • The value of the tracking technology should be commensurate to the value and importance of the asset.
  • Assets may be distributed over large geographic areas; the Sellafield site covers 6 square kilometres and Hinkley Point C is one of the largest construction sites in Europe.
  • Assets can be external and exposed to severe weather conditions.

The proposed solutions should consider:

  • The opportunity to allow existing systems and processes to be incorporated into any proposed new asset management system(s).
  • A centralised system to allow the unique assignment and tracking of multiple sourced assets through their lifecycle (desirable).
  • An easy to use asset visualisation interface with a variety of access rights.
  • The ability to visualise assets against a digital model or digital twin.
  • A range of tagging methods to allow flexibility based upon the nature of the asset and its environment.
  • Long term power source without intervention (if appropriate).
  • Ability to operate in severe weather conditions.

By providing better asset tracking for all parties, the following are expected:

  • Improved efficiencies through reduced duplication of data, lack of confusion on data integrity and improvements in receiving and tracking equipment.
  • Reducing human intervention and the time spent locating and interpreting information, leading to lifecycle cost reductions.
  • Improved documentation, inspection certification, records and knowledge management.
  • Improved configuration management of physical assets and specific links to safe, legal or security requirements.
  • Advanced working practices and modelling capabilities which enable further innovation and can be adopted for future developments.
  • More collaborative and efficient working with supply chain partners and internal capability groups.
  • Greater mobile working to promote better efficiency and decision making in the field.
  • Improved smart asset management.
  • Higher quality data for use in advanced digital and digital twin models.

Sellafield and EDF Energy are seeking ideas, innovations and technologies that will deliver game-changing improvements over the current practices which might include systems for:

  • Assigning unique tracking codes to physical assets, which may include information about the functional or design code (client defined) that the items were purchased against.
  • Enabling whole lifecycle tracking through design, manufacture, transportation, storage and installation to disposal.
  • Registration of assets and the collection of information to support whole life value decision making.
  • Machine readable labelling.
  • Intelligent centralised customer interfaces for asset tracking.
  • Provision of analytics e.g. cost, risk and performance.
  • Visualisation of assets against a digital model.
  • Real-time tracking to aid informed decision making.
  • Tracking of modular assets.
  • Robust control of data which permits a high level of security and different access rights.
  • Ensuring that physical and information assets are aligned and that this is easily demonstrable.
  • Potential integration with existing enterprise solutions e.g. Enterprise Asset Management software and Commissioning.

Get involved.

If you’re an individual, an SME or large organisation with new ideas or innovations which can be applied to address the Physical Asset Management challenges, we’d like to hear from you.

Proof of Concept funding is available through the Game Changers Innovation Programme for new technologies which may aid Sellafield and EDF Energy in their mission and which demonstrate commercial potential for the innovator.