Moving into Nuclear – Is Commitment the Key to Success?
March 2nd, 2017
At a recent nuclear networking event, I met numerous companies with little or no involvement in this industry to date but keen to move into the technology sector. This event reflected the keenness of major players such as Sellafield to get new companies into the supply chain, hoping that they will bring innovation and cost savings.
Why is it then that many of the companies present complained that, despite having suitable skills, certifications and systems in place, they can’t win projects?
There is an element of “Catch 22”, the nuclear industry is quite conservative. Despite the expressed desire to see innovation there is a reluctance on the part of buyers and project managers to be the first to try a new idea from outside the established supply chain. You could form the impression that to win nuclear work you need to have done nuclear work in the past so winning that first job is almost impossible… but I think that impression is only a small part of the reason why breaking-in is difficult.
Making the right connections is important, specification of products and services is usually at a project level and through a Tier 2 supplier and there will be issues of timing. The skills, processes and services required change through the life of nuclear projects and these can be of very long duration. Overcoming problems of who to speak to and when is no different in nuclear than in any other sector though.
However, I believe that biggest obstacle to breaking into the nuclear industry is perceived level of commitment.
Both Wilde Analysis as a company and I as an individual have worked in nuclear for over 30 years and many of our partners and clients have a similar track record.
Some of the companies I spoke to yesterday have historically worked in oil & gas or process and are looking to nuclear to fill up a depleted order book due to the currently depressed oil price. Although the sums of money spent in nuclear are considerable, it is a price sensitive sector and one would assume that the reason many companies were active in oil & gas rather than nuclear historically was that it was more profitable. A concern for buyers in the nuclear sector must be that once the oil price fully recovers their new suppliers will lose interest in nuclear again.
If you want to move into nuclear then perhaps what you need most is a clear long term commitment to the sector. I would be interested in any other thoughts on this topic.
Chris Down, Business Development Manager