Two engineering companies have both recently announced plans to establish dedicated nuclear businesses.
In the UK, Fort Vale is a precision manufacturer of valves and fittings for bulk liquid transport, with headquarters near Burnley, and employing 500 staff, first entered the nuclear market in 2008. Since then, it has secured framework contracts with two companies, one of which is as a preferred machining supplier to Nuclear Engineering Services Ltd. Its turnover has increased year-on-year.
From 1 March 2014, Fort Vale Nuclear Limited will operate as a stand-alone company working alongside the firm's core engineering business at its headquarters in Simonstone. The company said that the move is designed to allow the nuclear side of the operation to grow further on the back of developing its own opportunities, strategies and business model.
Peter Staveley, general manager of the new company, which has eight employees, explained how Fort Vale got into nuclear. "In 2008 we were looking for opportunities to diversify as a business. We opted to look for something that built on our existing competences and skills and which was engineering based, but potentially did not follow the economic cycles of our core business.
"One attraction of the nuclear market is that it is relatively recession proof. It's one of the only budgets that the Government ring fences. You can't turn off radioactive waste. It still has to be managed and maintained and, as well as the proposed new-builds, sites still have to be de-commissioned."
The company said that the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has an annual expenditure of circa £3 billion, of which 20% of the spend is designated for small and medium-sized businesses by 2015.
In the USA, engineering, procurement and contracting company Saulsbury, which is active in petrochemical and manufacturing markets for heavy industrial clients, has set up a nuclear services division based in Dallas, Texas. The company has 2200 personnel and offices in Dallas, Houston and Port Arthur, Texas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Farmington, Missouri.
The company said that the new business will be lead by Norman Hood, Vice President of Nuclear Services, a 34-year veteran of the nuclear industry, with eight other senior managers who together have 200 years of nuclear industry experience.
The company said that the business will provide commercial solutions that fit each customer's requirements for defined-scope projects. "We understand how important it is for nuclear plants to operate safely and reliably, particularly during the high-demand months, and our job is to help them be 100 percent reliable during those critical times," Hood said.
IMAGE: Fort Vale headquarters, UK