Having been a nuclear industry player for over 50 years, we believe the industry’s future depends on its ability to fully embrace digital solutions in order to optimise costs and guarantee lead times.
The complexity of today’s nuclear projects makes digital solutions essential for keeping deadlines, while respecting all of the safety and regulatory requirements. As a result, we explore the importance and benefits of Digital Asset Management in the nuclear industry.
The Benefits of Digital Asset Management
By using digital engineering tools throughout the life cycle of projects and infrastructure, such as Digital Asset Management or DAM, we can be assured of data continuity, both vertically (between the various teams involved) and horizontally (over the course of time), throughout the project's different stages. Digital solutions in the nuclear industry ensure data integrity from the design phase of nuclear power plants right through to their decommissioning.
The data obtained can be used to identify and resolve technical difficulties before the build starts, optimise the way in which plants are operated and maintained and ensure traceability in terms of regulatory compliance. In addition, using digital tools makes it much easier to leverage the experience built up during previous projects and re-use it in the future.
Utilised right from the design phase, DAM offers a clearer long-term view of a project and enables us to control both building and operating costs and therefore more accurately determine the final price of a kWh of power, which is increasingly being agreed on a contractual basis with the operator at the outset of a project. The use of these types of digital technologies in the aeronautic and automotive industries has generated productivity gains of between 20% and 50% as it encourages the sharing of precise and consistent data and significantly reduces the amount of repetitive work in the research phase (which in turn reduces needless additional work).
The Reach of Digital Asset Management
DAM can involve one or more digital engineering tools, which can be used in parallel with one another, such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) or Building Information Modelling (BIM), which are both used by Assystem for nuclear sector projects.
PLM digitises all of the engineering processes and related data for complex projects, which means that they can be more effectively managed. The underlying concept of PLM is collecting and archiving data throughout the project's lifecycle about the design, construction and operational aspects of the respective infrastructure. Consequently, PLM guarantees data continuity for all of the project's stakeholders – a crucial factor for the nuclear sector where projects are extremely long. For example, PLM has reduced costs by around 15% for the research engagements carried out by Assystem on the ITER project, for which PLM was used right from the outset.
As well as PLM, the other main solutions that are revolutionising infrastructure design and construction are BIM and digital twin modelling. Thanks to these solutions, errors and problems can be identified at the project's embryo stage so that the necessary adjustments can be made and monitored throughout the entire design phase before construction begins.
All project participants have access to the data and can see in real-time what impact a change would have on the project as a whole. Consequently, this technology facilitates teamwork and transparency by reducing the risk of losing information. For large-scale projects, BIM and digital twin modelling are essential allies for optimising lead times and therefore costs.