UK regulator appoints technical support providers

07 November 2018

The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) announced today it has appointed six nuclear supply chain organisations to its new Technical Support Framework (TSF), which it says is designed to provide the regulator with “a continued supply of expert supply chain resources at competitive rates, with greater flexibility and efficiency in the call-off of work from suppliers”.

The new TSF, which came in to effect on 1 November, has been established to provide a renewed and modernised framework for procuring technical support which ONR uses to obtain, for example, expert technical assessments, access to specialist software or modelling, or access to "niche skill sets" which are not retained within ONR.

ONR said it will benefit from the two tier framework by securing appropriate technical support in an increasingly competitive market, having the ability to initiate lower-value work more quickly which reduces the risk of technical support contractors (TSCs) not being available when required, and - in the case of 'Lot 2' of its Framework - being able to access capability from across the wider nuclear supply chain through its 'Tier 1' TSF suppliers.

The project has taken around 18 months, with the public procurement the main focus of the past nine months, and as part of the assessment of technical capability, the evaluation included an assessment of suppliers' behaviours and an alignment with aspects of ONR's own Behaviour Framework.

The existing TSF of 28 suppliers expired on 31 October and the new model will be in place for four years in line with Public Procurement Regulations.

The new Tier 1 suppliers are split across two 'lots'. Lot 1 covers Reactor Physics and Fault Studies and comprises GRS, Tractebel and Wood Plc. Lot 2 covers all other technical disciplines and comprises Atkins, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, TUV Sud (trading as Nuclear Technologies) - in alliance with Altran, Arup, GRS and CRA, and Wood Plc.

Seb Black, framework manager at Frazer-Nash, a systems and engineering technology consultancy, said it had been awarded one of four Tier 1 positions under Lot 2 of the framework, which provides specialist engineering and technical services across 16 technical disciplines, including control and instrumentation, structural integrity, chemistry, civil and mechanical engineering, internal and external hazards and human factors.

"Through the framework, we will support ONR by providing independent advice to supplement their existing knowledge base, as well as our specialist software and modelling services. We are likely to be reviewing specific aspects of nuclear safety cases against relevant industry guidance and expectations and supplying suitably qualified resource to support ONR's skill set in specific areas," Black said.

Wood said it had been named as a supplier under both lots of the framework and that its contract covers ONR’s activities in new build, power generation, decommissioning and defence.

Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood Specialist Technical Solutions, said: "This contract win recognises that the independent review and assurance provided by Wood’s experts has an important role to play in the regulatory process."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News