Heavy engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters hopes to expand into nuclear fabrication next year by securing a coveted quality standard from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
The company said it was already on track to receive its nuclear re-qualification in October from the US institution, ASME, which enables it to make heavy forgings and castings for the civil nuclear market. Forgemasters also hopes to gain ASME NPT, which it said would make it the only firm in Britain capable of both forging and welding and fabricating safety-critical components for nuclear reactors.
Forgemasters said it had had the ASME standard for 20 years, allowing it to become a key supplier to the nuclear market. David Street, group quality director, said: “Forgemasters currently enjoys ASME status as a materials organisation. The programme to gain NPT status is a huge development with enhanced requirements and disciplines embracing all our processes, employees and sub-suppliers. This is to ensure we meet the exacting construction requirements of the ASME code, which are some of the most stringent demands in modern engineering.”
Forgemasters, which is a crucial supplier to the UK defence industry, can currently supply “material” for use in civil nuclear projects, as would be allowed by NPT certification status. Once certified, it would sit with one of its key customers, Rolls-Royce, as one of the few UK companies qualified to fabricate main components for a civil nuclear power plant.
Street said: “This then opens up significant possibilities for the UK’s own nuclear new-build programme and taps into a growing need for nuclear power to solve the world’s looming energy crisis.
“The ASME code is the most comprehensive series of guidelines for civil nuclear manufacture in the world and all other codes, including the French RCC-M code, operate to similar compliance requirements.
“The implications of the codes are vast for any company wishing to enter the UK civil nuclear supply chain with precise requirements which need comprehensive understanding to ensure compliance and avoid code violation. Businesses will need to understand how to engage with this process and at the moment very few UK companies do.”
Forgemasters will now continue its work on manufacturing major nuclear island forging components for the UK’s nuclear submarine programme and projects for civil nuclear plants as far away as China.