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How to Improve Nuclear Project Execution Efficiency

As the pressure to decrease CO2 emissions continues to grow, nuclear power has been identified to have great potential in helping countries to achieve the goals established in the 2015 Paris Agreement of limiting temperature change to 1,5C. According to IAEA, nuclear power, along with hydropower and wind energy, produces one of the lowest GHG emissions per unit of electricity generated on a life cycle basis.

Yet, nuclear facilities’ construction is a complex process where failure has severe consequences – from financial and environmental to public health concerns. One of the latest examples of nuclear project execution complexities is the “never-ending” saga of Finland’s Olkiluoto plant. The plant was supposed to be ready in 2010 and cost €3 billion – however, the plant is still being built, and the current costs have already surged over €11 billion. This example showcases the need for efficient management for nuclear projects – beyond construction and throughout the whole lifecycle, from early design to decommissioning.

The performance of nuclear projects can have significant financial consequences, as there are currently 260+ CAPEX projects in the nuclear industry, with an estimated value of over 650 billion USD. If these projects were to run even 1% over-cost, we are already talking about 6.5 billion!

In this blog, we’ll discuss the possibilities enterprise project performance tools bring to managing the complexities of nuclear projects. We will showcase how you can efficiently manage a portfolio of many nuclear projects in different stages, from the right allocation of funds to better control of risks, schedules, costs, and contracts.

Challenges of Nuclear Project Execution

There are some key challenges that make nuclear project execution especially complex:

1. Ensuring Consistent Collaboration & Communication

The number of different stakeholders from government bodies and regulatory agencies to engineers, contractors, sub-contractors, fabricators, and material vendors makes it difficult to ensure that everyone has the latest, correct project information available.

2. A Siloed Way of Working

Different management disciplines are working in silos – in just one project, you have risk management, scheduling, estimating, cost control, budgeting and forecasting, and progress measurement working separately… how can you ensure that everyone has access to the latest, correct project data?

3. Nuclear-Specific Regulations

The strict safety regulations create an additional layer of complexity compared to other capital projects. Regulations can vary by country, which is an added challenge for global organizations. Rigid reporting requirements, safety and inspection guidelines can impact project schedules. You need to be able to calculate risks, assess resource scenarios, and comply with regulations.

When working in the nuclear industry, different types of projects must be managed simultaneously. New plants, shutdowns, maintenance, or decommissioning projects do not have the same cost, the same duration, nor the same complexity. But they all share the same processes, use the same resources, and contribute to the company’s bottom line.

Having an Enterprise Project Performance solution can help to improve safety, return on investment and profitability for the industry.

What is Enterprise Project Performance?

Enterprise Project Performance (EPP) is the philosophy that you can only sustain high performance by considering how ALL projects and resources contribute to business objectives.

Enterprise Project Performance software is project portfolio managementproject controls and project management software all in one platform. By integrating key process areas across the full lifecycle of projects and portfolios, you gain better visibility into what drives project success, and can make better decisions to improve business outcomes.

Why is Enterprise Project Performance Key for Nuclear Projects?

An Enterprise Project Performance solution for nuclear projects consists of effectively bridging strategy and execution to maximize returns and margins. In other words, “selecting the right projects, and delivering them right.”

EPP allows the nuclear industry to increase the predictability and control of nuclear projects by providing a unique digital framework where all the project management information is captured and linked together consistently.

Most of the issues that cause delays and cost overruns are reported during construction but actually originate during the design or procurement phases of the project. Integrating risks, schedules, estimates, costs, contracts, and progress in a single solution is the only way to anticipate the impact of an issue on the rest of the project.

How to Improve Nuclear Project Execution with EPP

All enterprise project performance essential business processes, such as risk analysis, scheduling, estimating, and cost control, are supported within EcoSys, the EPP solution from Hexagon. EcoSys integrates all project portfolio management and project management processes into one single product: same login, same database, same user experience. This is especially useful for the nuclear industry in breaking down the silos between different management disciplines.

All EPP business processes are integrated with other customer data sources with EcoSys Connect, the no-/low-code integration platform from EcoSys. This improves communication and collaboration between stakeholders, enabling everyone to access the latest, accurate project data.

Dynamic analysis and predictive analytics are provided within EcoSys through embedded dashboards or leveraging existing customer analytics tools. This can help the industry to gain better project predictability and ensure adherence to regulatory compliance.

Benefits of EPP for Nuclear Project Execution

The nuclear industry can receive multiple benefits from an EPP approach:

1. Immediate Impact Analysis

Real-time data capture and a single source of truth enables you to do immediate impact analyses. This facilitates risk identification and anticipation, and allows you put mitigation plans in place, decreasing cost overruns.

2. Better Return of Capital Investment

Better project evaluation and prioritization means projects that will deliver higher returns can be identified and selected. Higher project predictability means management reserve and contingencies can be released earlier to accelerate other projects.

3. Increased Margins

Improved efficiency of project teams, better insights for decision making, and standardized best practices facilitate better project controls. As a result, projects are much more likely to be delivered on-time and on-budget.  In fact, you can save 5 to 10% of project costs with better project controls in place.

4. Improved Collaboration

A seamless flow of information between all the stakeholders facilitates transparency, accountability, and communication. EcoSys allows you to capture lessons learned and return on experience, which can improve future projects by feeding machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Conclusion: A Centralized Project and Portfolio Management Approach is Best

Having a centralized EPP approach to project execution can help you execute nuclear projects more holistically. This integration between different stakeholder groups will deliver better visibility across the project lifecycle. Decision makers will have accurate information to take early corrective action, keeping project on schedule and within budget. All in all, this can help 1st class players to stay ahead of their competitors. Download our new eBook “Energizing Power Utility Projects” to learn more about how having an EPP approach can help the nuclear industry to improve project performance.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Ozoux is currently in charge of EcoSys Business Development at Hexagon, a company that supports its customers in their digital transformation by offering innovative solutions to adopt new technologies applied to the management of large industrial projects. He is an MBA graduate of Paris University in Information Systems and Management. He has been helping organizations implement their Capital Project Management solutions for 30 years. His experience with major project management software, as well as the advice he provides to major companies in France and Europe, allows him to take a critical look at the very rapid evolution of tools and technologies that are transforming the working methods, culture and tools that need to be mastered today.

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