Managing Nuclear Fleets Poses Major Challenges

Issue 3 and Volume 108.

Utilities face critical, complex decision-making and long-range work plans — potentially as long as 30 years for nuclear fleets. The reasons why fleets have difficulty realizing economies of scale include the large volume of work, organizational complexity, inadequate IT systems, and an ever-changing business and regulatory environment.

Among new tools available to help utilities meet such demands is a first-of-its kind solution to direct fleet and asset management needs developed by Artemis International. The new product can help utilities cope with the most stringent regulations in the energy marketplace without relying on antiquated homegrown tools, according to Patrick Ternier, president and CEO of Artemis. It is configured specifically for the unique challenges faced by nuclear energy companies — challenges such as the excessive time needed to manually create and validate work plans, the unexpected project delays due to resource bottlenecks and unforeseen/unanticipated changing requirements, and the inability to provide effective investment oversight based on limited visibility or even complete, integrated information.

“Nuclear fleets demonstrate the most critical need for business process improvements,” says Ternier. He says nuclear power station operators have historically relied heavily on manual procedures and fragmented IT tools for the financial and maintenance plan management of their stations.

The Artemis Fleet and Asset Management solution is now in use by Exelon Nuclear, which operates the largest nuclear fleet in the U.S., saving millions of dollars annually at each of Exelon’s ten nuclear plants. Andrew Dickson, IT solutions manager for Exelon Nuclear, says each of the Exelon stations is required to identify, prioritize, budget and monitor asset maintenance, repair and modification work for up to 30 years in the future, in order to optimize plant safety, generating output and capital investment. Maintenance and modification work can also be consolidated across stations, to further improve return on fleet assets.

He says each station was using a wide range of stand-alone IT applications — mainly Microsoft Access and Excel databases — to plan and monitor these long-range work and financial plans. Consequently, the management process and supporting information were fragmented, labor intensive and slow. In addition, Exelon had no easy way of monitoring and optimizing investment across the fleet.

Exelon started working with Artemis in June 2002 to define the overall change- out program. After a pilot phase, rollout was completed in early 2003 to 300 managers, engineers and financial planners across the ten stations and 14 corporate departments. Artemis provided automated support for this process, with one central database of all work and financial related data providing a consistent view of work and cost across all assets in the fleet.

“With Artemis, we were able to eliminate redundancy, provide real-time information transparency, and streamline the process of business planning, project prioritization and budgeting across our fleet of ten stations,” says Dickson.

Strategy Management is the system’s governance mechanism that aligns organizational objectives by organizing information to help executives continually identify, prioritize and monitor the progress of their business goals. Through the Work Management component, engineers identify predictable work, such as preventative maintenance, equipment purchase and ongoing operational activities, and also their unpredictable work such as corrective repair and plant improvements. Department leaders and plant design and management committees prioritize according to the business goals of the station and fleet, setting the foundation for a successful performance by the project teams.

Factor Management identifies the resources and assets needed to complete the work. Project teams have the ability to track time, costs incurred and services delivered, giving project managers the visibility of actual versus planned results so they can take corrective action if needed and better manage the project.

“With this solution, organizations are now able to establish common terminology and access real time information, helping energy companies streamline the process of business planning, project prioritization and budgeting for working with major asset and fleets,” said Joshua Horwitz, vice president solutions marketing at Artemis.