Planned Nuclear Outages Efficiency: The Basics of Resource Planning (Part 1)


Our team helped one of the nation’s largest nuclear operation sites save an estimated $7 million a year in recurring savings by eliminating 37 percent of the required training time across all Contingent Workers (CWs). This type of type of six-figure savings in outage operations is made possible with simple tactics like breaking apart training curriculums into smaller job specific sections.

Within this blog series, we discuss how to drive nuclear profitability using the Contingent Worker (CW) Optimization Framework. First up, we discuss CW Learning Management and how to train CWs, at cost.

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Each year, the nuclear industry employs tens of thousands of CWs solely to support refueling outages. To better align to “Delivering the Nuclear Promise,” the industry has determined a standardized set of courses to help eliminate redundancy across the industry. Here, we share five key tactics organizations can take to improving the efficiency of their CW training programs:

  1. A thorough requirements analysis to review regulatory, licensing, and safety requirements per job type to understand what trainings are required and why. Gathering requirements from the source will ensure organizations are not developing training modules that go “above and beyond.” By differentiating what requirements are regulated as necessary versus what is “nice to have”, organizations can take the first step toward prioritizing training needs.
  2. An assessment of the current training portfolio to optimize mix of instructor-led classroom training and computer-based training. Depending on the materials covered, computer-based training can be just as effective – if not more so – than instructor-led training while drastically reducing costs and time spent. There are several key elements to determine which approach to use:

  • The importance of drawing knowledge and experience from the other participants of the class.
  • The importance of practicing the concepts taught during a class to get real-time feedback so participants refine their skills
  • The potential impact to the organization and the participants should they not fully understand the concepts. In a classroom setting instructors can gauge how well participants are able to follow the materials and focus on areas where greater focus is needed.

3. An optimized portfolio tailored to each job type that only includes the specific requirements for each job. This is especially critical when considering the impact overtraining has from a knowledge retention perspective and from a cost stand point as training means more billable time spent by the CW workforce.

  1. A change management plan that engages all functional leaders, training managers, and vendor partners staffing the CWs. The CW workforce is the largest “customer” of this change, and its representative leadership will need to be fully engaged for success. A strong change management effort involves investing time to help senior leaders understand the potential savings by taking a more pointed approach towards training the CW workforce. In addition, time will need to be invested to train these senior leaders on how to properly assign CWs to the applicable job code(s). Not getting this step right would not only impact the organizations ability to achieve the expected savings, but may also cause the CW to be trained improperly.
  2. A training program for full-time employees to drive standardization across the fleet and ensure that everyone is using the same terminology. It is common to see different nuclear sites within the same utility have different terminology and training modules to cover the same concepts. This exists mostly because many utilities have grown via mergers and acquisitions. The standardization of training content and terminology will contribute towards simplification of the training program and reduce the likelihood of over training CWs as they move between nuclear outage sites.

By identifying the obstacles and utilizing these tactics to eliminate the obstacles, utilities can generate significant savings that will help them achieve the Nuclear Promise. As organizations begin to incorporate these concepts they will begin to realize benefits beyond just direct dollar savings and training curriculum simplification, but an improved experience for both the CW workforce and the training administrators within the organization.

For more North Highland ideas on this topic, check out our recent thought piece, “Achieving Radical Work Efficiency in Planned Nuclear Outages.”

Click here to read part two: "Planned Nuclear Outages Efficiency: The Basics of Resource Planning (Part 2)"