I am responsible for the safe and secure operation of Torness nuclear power station and, together with the rest of the EDF Energy nuclear generation fleet, we produce one sixth of the nation’s electricity.
Recognising the unique nature of nuclear power generation, my first and overriding priority is safety: of people, the power station and environment. To achieve this, I must work closely with our site-based team to provide goods and services that are assured to meet our exacting quality standards and are right first time, every time.
I look for value: determined in our business in terms of safety, quality, time and cost and always in that order. Of course I want them all, but I cannot justify compromising quality, for example, for cost.
During a major planned maintenance shutdown, we will have about 1,000 additional supply chain staff onsite for around 50 days, managed through more than 100 contracts. I need suppliers to be completely aligned with my operational priorities and supporting each other to achieve the highest standards so when I turn the power back on, my station operates reliably until the next planned shutdown. To do this, we need mutual understanding and trust through an open, transparent relationship. In such a relationship, people are key to success, so I need the supply chain to provide men and women that follow procedures, will challenge where necessary and prioritise safety.
We take pride in being a learning organisation and by working in collaboration with our supply chain we can share best practice. Our suppliers have a capability of real value to our business and it’s about creating the right environment for that collaboration to flourish.
I know that when I call on Paul Garrad, head of supply chain, nuclear generation, and his team, they recognise a supply chain solution, not a procurement outlook, is what’s required. By being strategically and operationally focused, they ensure the priorities are governance, value through internal and external relationships and people.
The strategy of success through collaboration is predicated on long-term mutually beneficial relationships, not just contracts. These are the vehicle for ensuring understanding, alignment and continual improvement. Without a long-term commitment, how can we expect our supply partners to invest in their own people or facilities?
Contractors have collaborated with Torness to reduce costs and improve sustainability. Examples include the use of Lokring technology instead of welding, the recycling of waste to meet our aim of zero waste to landfill and the use of alternative access solutions to reduce scaffolding.
I can see this collaboration strategy helping to underpin our ambition to extend the operating life of our power stations. Our suppliers have a fundamental role in overcoming issues such as equipment obsolescence. This will mean we can continue to supply safe, reliable low-carbon power. It will also help our suppliers to build and maintain their knowledge, experience and capability to support our new nuclear plans.
Five tips for success
Really understand what value means to you – never compromise on the thing that is most important.
Make sure short-term operational requirements and long-term strategy do not compromise each other.
Alignment is key to success – investing in long-term relationships helps to develop a collaborative culture.
Collaborative working across internal and external relationships requires a high degree of trust, openness and transparency.
Success is a team sport – the more you work together, the stronger the team understanding becomes and the greater the results.
☛ Paul Winkle
is station director
of Torness Nuclear Power Station,