Openness and flexibility the key at Wylfa
A partnership built on openness and trust is at the heart of the relationship Hertel has with nuclear power generating company Magnox North at its Wylfa power station.
Wylfa Site on Anglesey, North Wales, is just one of five Magnox North sites where Hertel is working to a national five-year contract awarded in 2005. The contract was recently extended until 2012.
In addition to Wylfa, Hertel work at Trawsfynydd also in North Wales, Hunterston in Scotland and Hinkley and Dungeness in England. Each location has a Hertel Site Manager.
At Wylfa, Hertel provides scaffolding, insulation and asbestos removal services with a permanent team of 45. During busy periods the team can rise to 60.
The Wylfa contract is managed by Ian Fraser who works closely with Wylfa’s on-site contract manager John Humphreys.
Hertel’s proactive approach to managing the contract makes a strong contribution towards the power station’s operations according to John Humphreys: “Hertel is an integral part of Wylfa and is important to the smooth running of the station. They deliver a solid day-to-day maintenance programme where they are adaptable and innovative ensuring we meet deadlines and stay within budgets. They are well-respected by everyone on the station both from Magnox and other contractors.”
On a daily basis Ian Fraser meets with his team of supervisors covering scaffolding, insulation and asbestos to discuss on-going and planned work. Once a week they meet with the Wylfa management team to schedule current and required work. This meeting also provides the opportunity to discuss with other site contractors how the work can be integrated to provide minimum disruption to the station.
John Humphreys says: “This meeting is a vital and regular forum to talk to all the contractors on-site about the work we require and discuss any issues which have arisen. It is valuable as all our contractors attend and are able to discuss work and how they can work together to minimise disruption. It has certainly built co-operation and a strong team ethos on-site.”
Safety is paramount in all work. Hertel has recently achieved 1 million hours with no lost time incidents at Wylfa and in 2009 a British Safety Council audit awarded the company, for the first time, a maximum five stars for its safety procedures.
Hertel has a permanent on-site safety manager Roy Lloyd. He works closely with the Magnox North health and safety officer to ensure that all work meets both Hertel’s rules and the station regulations.
Ian Fraser says: “We adopt a strong safety culture and also work closely with the station to reinforce its safety initiatives. Most team members have worked here for many years and they know the site well and are aware of where likely dangers lie."
Hertel’s on-site team also has a flexible approach to the work. John Humphreys says: “I am impressed by the way team members are able to provide a skills transfer to work on different tasks. You can’t beat site knowledge and understanding of the station’s safety rules. It improves Hertel’s efficiency on-site.”
This team flexibility helps Ian Fraser when it comes to managing workflows and ensures Hertel is able to provide a cost effective service.
There are 45 Hertel staff permanently based at Wylfa. During work peaks this can increase by 15. The station’s busiest period is during an outage of up to four months in the summer when one of the station’s two reactors are taken down for maintenance overhauls. Working seven days a week work is required on two shifts, days and nights.
During this time Hertel is able to draw additional resource from teams based at other nuclear sites. These men already have the necessary permits required by Magnox North to work on a nuclear power site, so making transfer easy.
The last outage period highlighted Hertel’s flexibility and innovation. High summer temperatures meant that the scaffolding and asbestos removal team faced working in temperatures of more than 40 degrees. With their necessary protective clothing the team could suffer heat exhaustion.
To overcome the problem the work pattern was changed so that the team introduced a night shift and an early day shift to carry out the work in cooler conditions. Heavy duty air conditioning units were also brought into the working area giving a safer working temperature of 25 degrees to be maintained. By changing working patterns and improving the surrounding area’s working conditions, Hertel was able to complete the work within the planned outage timescales.
John Humphrey was impressed: “The weather conditions faced during this outage were highly unusual and Hertel and their team made quick decisions to improve the conditions they faced ensuring the project was completed on time.”
During the course of the year, as well as routine maintenance Hertel will work on projects such as providing scaffolding to enable the fuel handling team to carry out plant upgrades to the flash filling and processing equipment within the reactor.
Knowing the site and having an understanding of Magnox’s needs, has helped Hertel provide a highly tailored service which has made an average annual saving of 9 per cent over the five years of the contract.
This has come from taking small and significant steps. This has included the introduction of new scaffolding systems, establishing an on-site scaffold cleaning facility enabling work to be done at Wylfa rather than being taken to another site and changing suppliers for the provision of mobile access equipment. This equipment is also made available to other contractors at the station.
Quarterly review meetings are held to review work across all the Magnox sites. As part of Hertel’s open book policy, detailed information is provided looking at costs and savings as well as providing the opportunity for discussions on best-practice and resource planning.
John Humphrey says: “Hertel is always keen to demonstrate where cost savings can be made. It is the positive attitude we see by its site and off-site management who are always ready to offer advice to overcome site issues and display a flexible approach to manage our needs.”
Hertel also takes its role as part of the local community seriously. It is actively involved in supporting local events by supplying and erecting scaffolding for the annual Anglesey Fishing Festival as it does for the Anglesey Charity Marathon. In addition it also holds an annual golf day which raises funds for a local children’s hospice.
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