Currently the nuclear decommissioning market presents significant opportunities for contractors. Nuclear Engineering International and Nuclear Energy Insider state that the market potential is ‘enormous’ with 17 nuclear sites in the UK currently being decommissioned and more sites due to enter decommissioning in the years ahead. Therefore there is a UK pipeline of opportunities that are set to arise stretching out to 2030 as nuclear sites go offline. Oil & Gas UK values the market to have increased by an average of nearly 20% for each of the past six years, with the latest forecast representing a 10% rise year on year. The Nuclear Industry Association UK states that there is a great deal of diversification from companies in the oil and gas market into the nuclear industry. As a result of the industry demand, market potential and company capabilities, Allspeeds have recently diversified into the UK nuclear decommissioning market with their Webtool range.
For over 25 years Allspeeds’ Webtool range have continuously supplied to the subsea and oil & gas industries. Designed and manufactured on site in Lancashire, the Webtool subsea range can cut or grip various diameters of wire rope, cables, umbilicals and steel piping. As the Webtool reputation has grown, Allspeeds were approached to design and manufacture bespoke cutting tools suitable for use in the nuclear industry, over time these bespoke tools have become part of the standard range. As the Webtool range was initially manufactured for the subsea industry, the nuclear range benefits from the robust features and ability of operating in the most hostile environments.
Allspeeds have now been supplying the American nuclear market for a few years. Initially Allspeeds were approached by Westinghouse Electrical Company to supply them with a special purpose steel tube cutter suitable for use in nuclear conditions. The tool supplied to Westinghouse was adapted from the WCOS54D cutter that is part of the standard Webtool subsea range. The WCOS54D features; Heavy duty wire rope cutter designed for use in severe working conditions Maximum 54mm cutting capacity Approx. weight 39.5kg Suitable for cutting wire rope, cables and umblicals In order to ensure that the WCOS54D tool was viable for the nuclear market certain design adaptions were implemented: The anvil was changed from stainless steel to high speed steel, preventing cold welding of pipe material to the anvil. To avoid contamination and ease disposal of the tool, the cutter was designed to operate on water rather than oil. To prevent contaminating the working fluid, silicone grease was used on the seals rather than oil. As the tool was used to cut steel piping, a sharper blade was used to prevent the pipe being crushed during cutting. As required by Westinghouse, the tool made approximately 100 cuts during test procedures. In actual field use, the tool made 25 cuts on the tubing assemblies which were highly irradiated. Due to the nature of the environment the tool became highly contaminated and was disposed of after use. Allspeeds received positive feedback regarding the performance of the tool.
Furthermore, Allspeeds continues to supply Westinghouse Electrical Company with tools from the standard Webtool nuclear range. Allspeeds future within the nuclear market As with most industries, the nuclear market is a difficult sector for new entrants and Allspeeds put in a lot of work to enter the nuclear industry. Allspeeds have recently attended various events within the nuclear sector, joined the NDA supply chain charter and became company members of Nuclear Institute. As an NDA supply chain charter signatory Allspeeds took the opportunity to apply for a free exhibition space at the second joint NDA event. The event is a wonderful opportunity for SMEs and new entrants to network and discuss possible working relationships within in the industry. Allspeeds are fortunate enough to have been granted an exhibition space due to the company’s capabilities and the gap in the market. Due to the increasing demand for reliable decommissioning tools, diversification of related sectors and a pipeline of opportunities stretching out for a number years, Allspeeds are confident that the Webtool nuclear range will grow and develop within the nuclear decommissioning market, both in the UK and overseas.