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Small cracks can lead to big problems

Our nuclear expert Bob Bell explains how effective and efficient Quality Management Systems (QMS) conducted by SQEPs can help prevent major issues.

Even the smallest of issues can escalate quickly and become much larger and more difficult to mitigate if left unchecked.

Having an effective and efficient Quality Management System (QMS) in place can identify many problems whilst they are still at a manageable level.

A QMS can aid organisations with proactive forward-planning to ensure appropriate processes are in place to handle projected eventualities, as well as those events that are less anticipated.

As we have seen recently with news of EDF’s Hunterston-B nuclear reactor showing advanced signs of graphite degradation, potentially reducing the possibility of life extension for the plant, proactive quality management is essential for those involved in the nuclear industry, and also for organisations of all shapes and sizes across a broad range of sectors, such as oil & gas, aerospace and defence and manufacturing.

Specifically with regard to nuclear reactors, being able to identify cracks early and take remedial action before they become critical is a big benefit of SQEPs (Suitably Qualified and Experience People) conducting regular inspections of the various components of the reactors.

These checks are mandatory and thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Nuclear Regulation for any business licenced to produce nuclear energy in the interest of public safety.

Other sectors may not have compulsory examination requirements such as this. An effective QMS and regular checks and audits of both processes and equipment are extremely helpful in maintaining industry standards, health and safety and that day-to-day functions are being carried out properly for all organisations.

By identifying irregularities and issues, businesses can alert others in the wider industry community of the problem. This ensures that they too can implement appropriate checks to not only improve the quality and safety of their output and longevity of their operational sites, but to protect staff and the general public.