Framatome forge raises replacement parts production

17 November 2020

Framatome has ramped up production of replacement component parts at its manufacturing plant located at Le Creusot, France. On 28 October, forging operations began on the first shell that will be used for the fabrication of replacement steam generators for the French nuclear fleet.

Forging operation on a shell that will be used for the fabrication of steam generators for the French nuclear fleet (Image: Framatome)

Prior to beginning production, Framatome obtained validation from France's nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), of the technical qualifications to manufacture a series of 16 shells.

A shell is a cylindrical or conical hollow piece of fabricated metal. A series of shells are welded together to form the external body of the main primary loop components, such as steam generators, vessels and pressurisers. The technical qualifications for the production of these shells are based on the requirements defined by the French regulation for nuclear pressure equipment, known as ESPN. It incorporates enhancements in the equipment and the manufacturing process of the components.

Framatome said ASN had recorded "enhanced process controls and other improvements to Le Creusot's quality management system, organisation and safety culture".

ASN announced in April 2015 the discovery of an anomaly in the composition of the steel in certain zones of the vessel closure head and the vessel bottom head of the Flamanville EPR reactor. The Le Creusot forge was taken out of operation in December 2015. The detection of the anomaly led ASN to ask Areva NP and EDF to "learn all possible lessons from this event". Of the 6000 records identified during the initial survey, 3854 correspond to forgings installed on nuclear installations. Framatome received approval from ASN and EDF in January 2018 to resume the manufacture of forgings for the French nuclear fleet at its Le Creusot site.

Framatome said that since 2016 employees at the Le Creusot plant have been committed to defining and implementing a comprehensive improvement plan. By mid-2017, this collective engagement made it possible to ramp up production for the construction of two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C in the UK. To support the increased activity over the last two years, Framatome recruited more than 100 people and invested EUR23 million (USD27 million) in its industrial facilities.

In 2020, the Le Creusot plant will spearhead Framatome's component manufacturing standardisation and industrialisation programme called Juliette. "Through specific action plans, Framatome is renewing its commitment to the process of industrial excellence," the company said.

"This new milestone at the Le Creusot plant is made possible by our employees' commitment and actions taken to achieve operational excellence in plant performance," said Jean-Bernard Ville, senior executive vice president of the Projects and Components Manufacturing Business Unit at Framatome. "Our ambition at Framatome is to position our plant as the world's benchmark for industrial excellence in the nuclear industry and the defence sector."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News