Decommissioning is a growing industry in the UK – a recent report by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estimated it will take 120 years and £121bn to “clean up” 17 of the earliest nuclear sites. Balancing ageing and poorly-maintained equipment with financial constraints, environmental conditions and challenging timescales is “very difficult”, says Gilmour. “It is not impossible, but a level of ingenuity is required, which only comes from a mixture of qualifications, experience and technical understanding. Getting the right mix can take time.” Engineers also have to stay abreast of change in the sector. “The industry is constantly evolving and technology is advancing at a phenomenal rate – software which has recently been installed can be out of date within months, if not days, trying to get hold of spare parts for older equipment is becoming increasingly difficult, and ensuring knowledge retention is captured are some of the daily challenges,” she says. Despite the breakneck speed of progress, Gilmour says she looks forward to more advanced technology being adopted. Virtual technology for design, drones for maintenance and inspection and new materials are all possibilities, she says.
Professional Engineering 2nd Oct 2018 read more »