NEI’s Top Industry Practice Awards recognize innovation in the nuclear energy industry. Presented at NEI’s annual conference, the awards honor accomplishments that help the industry improve safety, streamline processes and increase efficiency.
In a special series of articles this week, our publication Nuclear Energy Overview highlights the challenges and successes of five winners.
The staff at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear energy facility developed a new welding process that not only has improved efficiency at the plant but also saved millions of dollars.
The project earned a team from the plant the B. Ralph Sylvia Best of the Best Award, which honors the highest achievement among all TIP Award winners.
Led by Lennie Daniels, a senior project manager at Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, the team streamlined the welding required to install pressurizer lower head heater nozzles and level nozzles.
The results of the new process, known as “Mini-ID Temper Bead Welding,” are significant. For example, the volume of weld material needed was cut by 90 percent, and the time spent welding one installation dropped from 18 hours to four hours. Putting the new welding process in practice at Calvert Cliffs ultimately saved the company $17.5 million and 583 critical path hours during its maintenance outage.
Before replacing nozzles in 119 high-radiation-dose locations, the team put in plenty of time up front to optimize the entire process. With the welding to be performed on a platform eight feet in diameter 30 feet in the air, the team at the Maryland facility rehearsed the procedures on a full-scale mockup.
“It was while practicing the entire thing from start to finish that we could find those little … kinds of things that you’d never, ever think of,” said Daniels.
Daniels cited solutions like building a stairwell so that crews didn’t need to carry heavy tools up and down a ladder and changing small components of a work platform to make it maneuverable.
“It was the little user-friendly enhancements that went a long way to help us be successful,” he said.