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The DSA has successfully been working as an integrated team with Sellafield Ltd over the last 12 months to support the VTIP Programme of work. The team provides project management, design and engineering support to improve the rate at which high level waste is vitrified, thereby reducing the hazard to the site in line with regulatory drivers.


The integrated team culture fostered within the VTIP team has supported the successful completion of high hazard and complex projects to cost and schedule.  Some examples of the projects within this programme include the unblocking of VIT Line 3 and improving VIT Line 3’s resilience against voltage dips. AXIOM has also been able to provide additional tacit knowledge to support these projects. The team has also strove to develop a PXP initially to define design interactions, which is currently being updated to envelop the programme. This has allowed the team to function collaboratively in order to react efficiently to demands and requirements of an operational plant.



AXIOM not only supports Asset Care but also provides significant support to Sellafield Ltd’s Major Projects. An example of AXIOM’s Major Project support is the Box Encapsulation Plant (BEP), which is key to Sellafield Ltd’s strategic objective to accelerate the hazard reduction process on legacy ponds and silos. The BEP Project has been delivered by the Design Services Alliance (DSA) that predominantly consisted of AXIOM and Sellafield Ltd personnel during both the concept and the preliminary design phases, up to the completion of an approved HAZOP2 design. Prior to the ‘Initiate Project Delivery’ gate, the BEP Project’s engineering and management team was focused in the North West (Risley), where the availability of Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP) was identified as a major project risk.


The target date for completion of BEP to support the decommissioning of Magnox Swarf Storage Silos (MSSS) required the rapid mobilisation of a large multi-discipline engineering team that may not have been feasible without the consideration of a satellite office to reduce pressure on available resources in the North West, and also to reduce the impact on resourcing of other Sellafield Ltd Projects. AXIOM successfully mitigated this risk by mobilising circa 100 off multi-discipline engineers and designers using existing available SQEP resources derived from various AXIOM partner offices in the North East, all co-located in one of AXIOM’s offices in Stockton-on-Tees. Specific commissionable plant areas and systems were selected for satellite office delivery that required the minimum interface between North West and North East teams. Where interfaces were required, regular communication between the North West and North East teams was established by the use of both face to face meetings and remote conferencing facilities. 


The collaborative behaviours and approach of the Alliance Partners in the integrated BEP DSA team enabled Sellafield Ltd and AXIOM to jointly deliver benefits in the region of £30M to the project via the DSA. 



AXIOM has assisted on many Long Term Periodic Reviews (LTPR), this is the process for the Periodic Safety Review of a facility’s safety case. An example of the high standard of work completed is the E&EP LTPR, shown by obtaining the “Innovation (Large Supplier) Category Commended” award from the Sellafield Ltd Supplier Awards 2014.


AXIOM has formed part of the teams working on the LTPRs for Magnox & FHP, MSSS and E&EP.

LTPR in Operations Division


AXIOM’s scope was to provide a dedicated team of project management and engineering support personnel to carry out an engineering review of the plant. The AXIOM team worked collaboratively and successfully as part of an integrated team with Sellafield Ltd personnel.


AXIOM reviewed and updated the existing Engineering Substantiation reports to reflect the revised Safety Case including new and revised Safety Functions. It also provided confidence in the ability of the safety Structures Systems and Components (SSCs) to deliver their required safety functions. Additionally, it provided confidence that over the remaining lifetime of the facility it will be practicable to monitor the condition of the SSCs and the radiological inventory and where necessary undertake repair work and maintenance in a safe manner. Work was also done to review and update the Engineering Schedule to reflect the output of the updated HAZANs.  



The project scope covered the design of a new waste route on Sellafield site to receive, encapsulate and store Dragon Waste. The shielded flasks needed to be moved across site and transferred into MAGNOX Encapsulation plants.


It was decided to use a fixed lift design, using suitably trained plant teams. A fully aligned integrated team was established comprising of Sellafield Ltd and AXIOM personnel. Thanks to a team member’s extended network, stakeholders were involved early on in the project and buy-in was obtained for  the design solution. This project was packaged out to multiple AXIOM partner offices allowing them to use their expertise to aid in the successful completion of the project.


The benefits brought about by the success of the project included potential savings of £950k and schedule saving of three months anticipated during the operations phase. The early stakeholder engagement and the ‘right first time’ design solution will reap benefits throughout the entire project lifecycle.


AXIOM team members used their contacts to achieve stakeholder buy-in, as well as adding their knowledge and experience in PLC systems. An added asset to this project was the creation of 3D modelling of the flask to flask transfer process. This was recognised as a very helpful tool by stakeholders and identified as an area of best practice in the Human Performance part of the Sellafield Project Execution Review (SPER). AXIOM also engaged a Tier 3 supplier to provide support in estimating manufacturing costs.



The Vitrified Residues Returns (VRR) programme is concerned with the safe and reliable return of active waste to the countries of origin. The DSA was engaged on the project directly supporting the VRR programme to Germany.


The customer requested that the number of shipments be reduced to save on transport and security costs. One of the challenges to achieve this was to find more space for interim storage/marshalling for empty and filled vitrified residue containers. It was identified that the existing Flask Marshalling Facility (FMF) could be used, with some modifications.


On a previous, similar project, louvers were added to the design to dissipate the additional heat energy that extra flasks were expected to bring about. With data provided from analysis, it was decided that additional building louvers would not be required, which meant that the design, supply and installation costs for these were removed from the project.


The avoidance of over-engineering created a saving of at least £429k together with the associated programme benefits. Through this, other innovations and collaborative working, the German Government’s objective of reducing the shipments from four to three was realised, giving an estimated potential overall saving of over £28M.


AXIOM personnel engaged a Tier 3 supplier to carry out a detailed CFD model and predict the maximum temperature of the flasks under the worst case design conditions. This provided robust data on which to base a fit for purpose design.




A FGMSP Export Facility project was underperforming utilising a legacy contract. The project transferred ownership and accountability to a single integrated, co-located DSA team consisting of Sellafield Ltd, AXIOM and supply chain, many of whom had been involved in the previous contracting arrangement.  The project was a critical path for fuel export and sludge removal, was under scrutiny and had challenging deadlines.


A fully Integrated Project Team of 60 multi-discipline engineers and project staff was formed, co-located on one of the AXIOM partner sites in Preston, Lancashire. The team was composed of staff from all of the AXIOM JV partners as well as Responsible Engineers from Sellafield Ltd who had responsibility for the delivery of each package of work. The project also had small teams drafted in from local SME’s who worked in a like-minded integrated manner.


This method of working led to the early completion of the project, under budget. In addition:


  • The project achieved recovery of its schedule position to enable EPC.

  • The programme delay was mitigated to enable savings of £1M. The project successfully completed design work to support the achievement of a PBI worth an additional £0.75M.

  • Flexibility of Project Management and Project Engineering team ensured ongoing progress of project.

  • Identification of shortfalls and critical errors within existing system/designs avoided delays and rework at later stages.

  • Integrated Project Team with AXIOM, Sellafield Ltd and supply chain staff co -located in one office provided an example of successful collaboration.

  • Delivery of high quality, on budget, engineering solutions enabled the client to collect a performance bonus from the NDA.



AXIOM provided project and programme management, planning, commercial, supply chain engagement and management services as well as technical deliverables. These included design proposals, detail design, substantiation of mechanical handling plant and equipment, associated control systems, building services, fire alarm systems conventional safety case and functional safety.


The mechanical works undertaken under this project included the skip bogie system; the skip hoist system; the flask filling and emptying equipment; a flask de-lidding/ lidding station; the flask bogie system; the flask wash system; antechamber doors; shield doors; mechanised access systems and lifting equipment.



The combined PLC / hardwired control system designed by the team facilitated the safe control and operation of the mechanical handling equipment comprising of Hoistwell Roller Shutter Hatch, Antechamber Doors, Shield Doors, Flask Bogie, Lid Lift, Skip Hoist, Skip Bogie and Flask Elevating Access Platform. As part of this system, a functional safety review and design was integral to the overall design, ensuring that the system was safe and to rigorous standards such as IEC 61508 and IEC 61511.


In terms of Building Services, the team was responsible for the design that included the fire alarm system; building safety systems; power distribution; the facility access control system; the lighting and emergency lighting systems; the communications system and the CCTV system.

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