A Burnley-based precision manufacturer is targeting continued growth in work for the nuclear sector after working with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) to develop their skills and processes.

Fort Vale Engineering is the world leader in the manufacture of stainless steel valves and fittings for bulk fluid transportation. They supply industries including oil and gas, chemicals and food, and was well used to managing quality issues such as traceability and materials identification for safety-critical applications.

Since entering the nuclear market in 2008, Fort Vale has worked with the Nuclear AMRC’s Fit For Nuclear (F4N) programme to assess their business processes and capabilities and identify areas for improvement to allow them to bid for more work in the civil nuclear supply chain.

The key requirements identified in their initial F4N review was to develop sector specific project management skills, business objectives and a nuclear safety culture. These actions helped the Fort Vale directors take the decision to create a new standalone business to target nuclear work.

General manager of Fort Vale Nuclear, Pete Staveley commented:

“The decision to create Fort Vale Nuclear enabled the nuclear business to grow in its own right, through its own business model and suitable business processes aligned with the nuclear industry. We believe it gives our current and future customers the confidence that we are serious about being a long-term player in the nuclear sector.”

“We have embedded nuclear safety culture, and ensured that everyone in the business has been through the Triple Bar Nuclear Manufacturing as a minimum so they understand what the difference is between nuclear and the core business.”

“The Fit For Nuclear assessment worked for us because it made transparent the gap of where we were, and where the industry would like us to be. It allowed us to analyse where we could maximise adding value to the customer, especially in terms of what the industry expects from the supply chain.”

A subsequent F4N assessment validated the improvements made in project management, business objective development and other areas.

Fort Vale Nuclear’s primary objective is now to develop the company’s client base, while maintaining the quality of delivery to current customers. To build relationships with potential clients, Fort Vale Nuclear has been active at networking events arranged by the Nuclear AMRC and National Skills Academy Nuclear Manufacturing.

About Fit For Nuclear (F4N)

F4N is not a formal qualification but an 18 month journey of business improvement. It is aimed at any UK company which could provide manufactured components for nuclear plant construction, operation or decommissioning.

F4N is designed for businesses with 10 or more employees or with a turnover of £1.6 million and upwards, as the principles of the programme are more difficult to apply to microenterprises.

Participating companies range from contract manufacturers with no nuclear experience aiming to take a first step into the sector, to established suppliers wanting to benchmark their position and drive business excellence.

For more information about Fit For Nuclear visit the Nuclear AMRC website or call 0114 222 4993.

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