Sheffield Forgemasters to expand coveted nuclear status

Sheffield Forgemasters is to upgrade its coveted ASME civil nuclear accreditation to capitalise on growing market opportunities.

Sheffield Forgemasters is to upgrade its coveted ASME civil nuclear accreditation to capitalise on growing market opportunities.

The company, which has held ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) accreditation for the manufacture of components for civil nuclear power since 1992, is now developing a programme to gain additional accreditation covering fabrication for civil nuclear power stations.

Under its current accreditation, Sheffield Forgemasters can manufacture components to the ASME Nuclear Code but the further accreditation, ASME NPT (Nuclear Partials), will enable the historic engineering marque to physically weld fabricate safety critical components, which will then go into the heart of nuclear power plants across the globe.

David Street, group quality director at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “We initially fielded an enquiry from one of our customers in the civil nuclear power industry to add a welded extension to a Nuclear Reactor Primary Pump casting prior to delivery rather than having to source from this work from another facility, which is a more efficient and compact approach.

“Without ASME NPT accreditation, we couldn’t undertake this work, but gaining this accreditation opens an entirely new market opportunity to us, covering the many assemblies within the nuclear primary and secondary pressure loop systems of a civil nuclear plant, using specialist welding techniques to join cast and non-cast metals, forged and other formed metallic materials.

“The programme to gain NPT status is a huge development with enhanced requirements on our sub-suppliers, our internal welding codes and even our internal and external auditing skills to ensure we meet the requirements of the ASME code, which are some of the most stringent requirements in modern engineering.”

In order to gain ASME NPT status, the company must develop a specific quality management programme satisfying ASME NQA-1 Quality Assurance Requirements for Nuclear Facility Applications and the related ASME NCA-4000 Nuclear Code. This needs to be surveyed and approved before Forgemasters is allowed to weld fabricate and assemble Nuclear Code components.

The company will also need to engage the services of an ASME authorised nuclear inspector to work with its team in developing the programme and then overseeing the release of weld fabricated and assembled components for service in civil nuclear applications.

Sheffield Forgemasters’ current ASME QSC (Qualified Systems Certificate) accreditation three year cycle is due to be renewed in October 2012 and the company is aiming to renew that status and gain ASME NPT accreditation at the same time.

David Street and his team will need to have the new ASME programme ready for external audit by mid-2012 and anticipate an investment of £140k to maintain the existing accreditation and enhance the quality programme to include the higher level NPT accreditation.

ASME is one of the premier nuclear and pressure vessel standards in the world and its accreditation is a widely recognised global standard for civil nuclear design and construction. Sheffield Forgemasters also holds the French RCC-M Code for nuclear engineering.

The ASME certification has allowed Sheffield Forgemasters to create 16-tonne reactor coolant pump castings for two new-wave AP1000TM power plants in China. The castings will also feature on all future AP1000 plants globally.