Nuclear Plants Can Boost Reliability with Predictive Maintenance

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The rapid growth in electricity demand combined with movements to curtail emissions has created an opportunity for nuclear energy as a zero carbon emission energy source. However, in an industry that faces as much scrutiny as the nuclear industry, optimized plant performance and operations is critical to taking advantage of this opportunity. Previously I’ve discussed how implementing a proactive approach to maintenance allows industrial companies to improve asset performance and reliability. Just as with utilities, innovative nuclear companies are taking advantage of predictive maintenance technologies today to optimize equipment reliability, safety and performance.


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The Impact of INPO AP-913

Predictive maintenance technologies can have the greatest impact when applied to existing maintenance processes such as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ (INPO) AP-913 Equipment Reliability Process. AP-913 details how engineers, plant managers and other personnel can assess equipment, create long-term equipment health plans, monitor equipment performance, take corrective actions and make ongoing modifications to maintenance techniques. After implementing AP-913, nuclear power generation companies identify and address common obstacles related to the process, helping facilities address gaps in internal processes related to performance monitoring, maintenance practices and other key components of the standard. AP-913 can lead to significant plant performance and operational benefits by guiding nuclear plant decision makers to operate with the highest levels of reliability.

Predictive Maintenance and AP-913

While AP-913 does not prescribe a specific type of technology, predictive maintenance enhances the AP-913 process by providing diagnostic capabilities and uncovering system disturbances that other techniques may not achieve on their own. The amount of data streaming in from hundreds of thousands of sensors across a fleet can be difficult to analyze. With this level of data influx, identifying hidden deviations, anomalies and faults can be both challenging and time-consuming.

Predictive maintenance solutions transform that data into actionable insights in real time, using techniques such as advanced pattern recognition (APR) and machine learning to identify and diagnose equipment issues before they affect the business. This allows operators to catch problems days, weeks or months before they impact operational performance.

Improve Reliability, Safety and Performance

The benefits of predictive maintenance are even greater when implemented as part of an Enterprise Asset Performance Management (APM) solution. An Enterprise APM platform provides closed-loop functionality by incorporating predictive analytics, enterprise data capture, mobile workforce enablement, enterprise asset management (EAM) and advanced workflow in a hardware-agnostic platform. These solutions enable companies to increase information access across the business, predict problems before they occur and efficiently resolve them. With Enterprise APM, companies can leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to transition from a reactive to a proactive maintenance strategy, reducing unscheduled downtime, increasing asset utilization and lowering maintenance costs.

By implementing Enterprise APM, nuclear engineers can spend less time digging through data and more time improving processes. In addition, Enterprise APM and predictive maintenance have important safety benefits as well, which is critical in nuclear power plants. By detecting problems early, users are able to diagnose and address underlying issues long before they become operational, preventing dangerous failures.

Maximize Economic Return on Assets

This technology is more than just theoretical – it’s providing major benefits in the marketplace today. When EDF implemented predictive maintenance across their nuclear and fossil fuel generation fleet, a single catch saved the company over $1 million.

To learn more about the benefits of predictive maintenance in nuclear generation, download our Industry Solution Paper.

Are you a nuclear plant operator considering implementing predictive maintenance? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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