Photo: Framatome's Le Creusot plant

Framatome has ramped up production of replacement component parts at its manufacturing plant located at Le Creusot in France.

On 28 October, forging operations began on the first shell that will be used for the fabrication of replacement steam generators for the French nuclear fleet, Framatome said.

The shell is a cylindrical or conical hollow piece of fabricated metal. A series of shells are welded together to form the external body of the main primary loop components, such as steam generators, vessels and pressurisers.

Before beginning production, Framatome obtained the French Nuclear Safety Authority’s (ASN's) validation of the technical qualifications to manufacture a series of 16 shells. The technical qualification is based on the requirements defined by the French regulation for nuclear pressure equipment, known as ESPN. It incorporates enhancements in the equipment and the manufacturing process of the components.

ASN recorded enhanced process controls and other improvements to Le Creusot’s quality management system, organisation and safety culture.

"This new milestone at the Le Creusot plant is made possible by our employees’ commitment and actions taken to achieve operational excellence in plant performance," said Jean-Bernard Ville, senior executive vice president of the Projects and Components Manufacturing Business Unit at Framatome. "Our ambition at Framatome is to position our plant as the world’s benchmark for industrial excellence in the nuclear industry and the defence sector."

Since 2016, employees at the Le Creusot plant have been committed to a comprehensive plan of improvements. By mid-2017, this made it possible to ramp up production for the construction of two EPR reactors in the UK at Hinkley Point C. To support the increased activity over the last two years, Framatome said it had recruited more than 100 people and invested €23 million ($27.2m) in its industrial facilities.

In 2020, the Le Creusot plant will spearhead Framatome’s component manufacturing standardisation and industrialisation programme called Juliette.