PLANT MANAGEMENT

The experience from nuclear plant operation has shown that effective plant management and organisational structures are essential to support all operations of plant activity including normal operation, maintenance, refuelling, etc. These are also necessary to achieve the economic performance required by the licensee and to meet the environmental and safety standards required by the regulator.

A good description of practices presently adopted by international bodies and the results achieved is given in IAEA Technical Report No. 369. This book is written in the form of a manual describing a number of ways by which interested parties can transfer to their own situation, the experiences of experts from a number of IAEA Member States. Many of these management practices (developed in the remainder of this section) apply across other large industries.

It requires significant managerial skill to achieve the necessary cost reductions and resource allocations against budget limitations without impacting on the operational and safety performance of the plant. To facilitate these, senior managers must define carefully and communicate to their workforce, the objectives, strategies and criteria in order that correct decisions can be made at all levels to achieve balance between the trade-offs of operational excellence and low cost.

To further the implementation of high standards, an approved quality assurance (QA) programme is usually mandatory, which should be periodically reviewed and updated. International standards such as ISO-9000 are required for many plants (or other comparable quality management systems).

To achieve good operational efficiency, it is important to have a positive and well — motivated work-force and this can only achieved via good employee and management relations. Management must be seen to implement its stated programmes in order to command the necessary respect and support from employees. It must also maintain good relationships with contractors.

In cutting costs to improve efficiency, it may be necessary to reduce staffing levels and this situation may impact adversely on staff morale. Technical Support Organisations can also be impacted if the operating companies place less work outside. This situation must be managed to ensure that the resource reduction is achieved via voluntary staff release as far as possible.

Clearly loss of valuable technical expertise may not result in increased efficiency if there is an inadequate quota of technically trained staff remaining. In many instances, it is the more able staff who leave first during uncertainty and times of change. At a later date, there may be increased costs in recruiting and training new staff in the highly specialised and technical nuclear industry.

Efficiency may be improved via new and more innovative management approaches. New management may consider greater empowerment to lower levels of the organisation. Delays in processes (e. g. signing of routine forms) due to the absence of senior management and the burden on senior management in performing such activities are not efficient. A more imaginative management may introduce simpler work processes.

It is important that the consequences of necessary management decisions to improve efficiency are portrayed in a balanced picture. In times of change, employees may dwell on more negative aspects but for example, reduction in work-force and greater empowerment will mean that the remaining employees have greater responsibilities, more rewarding jobs and more opportunities for promotion. Such positive aspects should be recognised in good management teams.

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