North Highland worked with a leading US nuclear power operator to streamline worker in-processing, transform the in-processing experience and establish a metrics-based decision framework to drive ongoing continuous improvement of the in-processing cycle. We helped their fleet of nuclear power plants ensure that the right resources are available on-site and ready to work when needed to support efficient, effective and safe online and outage operations.
Energy & Utilities Case Study
A leading nuclear power operator approached North Highland to help improve the average contingent worker in-processing cycle time. This included all training and access services activities from worker welcome and orientation to instructor-led and computer-based training completion through badge issuance and departure for the more than 15,000 contingent workers in-processed annually.
Together, we set a vision to deliver “fleet standard in-processing that enables just-in-time staffing of our nuclear fleet and positions (the training facility) as the industry leader for access controls, training and in-processing efficiency, effectiveness and experience." The team’s mission was to “reduce average in-processing cycle times to a predictable and reliable four work days for new contingent workers and two work days for returning contingent workers without sacrificing the quality of learning or participant experience.” Realizing this goal would mean over $11M in annualized savings for the fleet in addition to enhanced worker experience and fleet operations.
Achievement of the defined vision required strategic analysis, process design and controls, implementation of technology enhancements, project management and change management to drive successful execution and adoption across 3 key operational levers:
- Training Rationalization: Building fleet common non-accredited training programs, driving streamlined, need-based training requirements and standardizing classroom and e-learning materials
- Process Standardization and Improvement: Defining, documenting and deploying standard business processes and driving optimization for training operations throughout the entire in-processing lifecycle
- Process Measurement and Management: Identifying metrics, designing and implementing measurement systems to provide tracking and analytics
Over ten months, we drove multiple work streams focused on these levers. Dedicated groups researched and reviewed regulatory training requirements, facilitated process reengineering workshops and designed control points within processes to establish the infrastructure needed to track and monitor key performance indicators. Key outcomes included:
- Re-engineered, standardized and deployed 23 core business processes across training, staffing and access services
- Implemented a tracking tool and reports to monitor worker progress through their in-processing schedule and produce metrics for continuous improvement
- Right-sized and standardized 19 nuclear training topics • Eliminated 43 site-specific training requirements
- Consolidated from over 160 training skill models (individual training roles or profiles with customized requirements) to 125
The in-processing initiative was truly a business transformation project across people, process and technology. Today the in-processing organization and facility delivers an entirely new experience with a renewed focus on customer service, process management and training efficiency.
The results included:
- Eliminated 33 hours of training across 19 topics, an average of over 20 fewer hours of training per worker
- Enabled a 90% reduction in manual analysis to determine training requirements for scheduling purposes
- Lowered average contingent worker in-processing cycle time to 2.25 days saving 49,815 hours of billable contingent worker in-processing time during the Fall outage season, valued in excess of $2.49M
- Eliminated 43 site-specific training requirements
- Highest measured levels of customer satisfaction from in-processing workers and fleet locations since the inception of centralized in-processing
The savings realized in the first four months of operations post-implementation exceeded our fees for the work. It is currently estimated that annual savings will exceed $11M in 2017.
In recognition of our combined efforts, this initiative was awarded the Nuclear Energy Institute Top Industry Practice (NEI TIP) award for Training. Nuclear industry innovators are honored with the annual TIP award for the most creative techniques and ideas. The awards promote the sharing of fresh ideas and best practices and, consequently, improve safety, work processes and the competitive position of the industry as a whole.