Our approach and our track record give us credibility, but in the end our value to our client depends on the solutions we offer and the process we follow to achieve them.

Proving it

RED is currently working on two projects for Sellafeld that illustrate the value of the company’s creative approach and lessons learned, in two different ways.

Neither can be described in detail, but in abstract the first is to deliver a step change in remote intervention technology, which allows RED to apply all their experience of design for extreme offshore environments into the similarly high-risk and human-averse conditions that prevail in many areas of the nuclear industry. It is a perfect example of transferrable expertise and experience, the cross-pollination of innovation from one cutting edge industry to another.

The second project has allowed RED to demonstrate the quality, speed and value of their creativity in solving a pragmatic design challenge. The company is already well on the way to making one of the most fundamental, day-to-day clean-up operations very significantly easier and more efficient, safer and more cost-effective.

RED engineer Haydn Ford is heading up this second project, working with the Sellafield Innovation Centre. “My brief is to collaborate with the managers, designers and operators who have already been working on this challenge for a considerable time, and produce a solution that meets all their demands. My goal is to achieve this in a matter of weeks, and we’re on schedule.”

Success in fast-tracking a solution lies in Haydn’s ability to collaborate with the different stakeholders, and he’s a very good team player. He is also a qualified naval architect and offshore engineer and he epitomises the kind of highly creative and effective RED engineering talent that earns the respect of the engineers and operators he’s working with.

“Our approach and our track record give us credibility, but in the end our value to our client depends on the solutions we offer and the process we follow to achieve them.”

In this project, the first of two RED USP’s that Haydn has been able to demonstrate is their ablity to draw on and adapt existing, off-the-shelf technology to create the best solution. In this case, some lateral thinking is making it possible to produce a more effective, everyday tool at a fraction of the cost of the industry’s own bespoke solution.

Printing it

The second RED USP is the company’s proven recipe for fast track delivery, and a passionate commitment to continuously improving this process of design, testing and development for the benefit of their clients.

In this instance, RED has invested in an ‘Additive Manufacture’ facility (3D printer) that Haydn is using to produce the bespoke parts he is designing, and to create prototypes that client stakeholders can trial, pull apart and feed back improvements.

“Being able to 3D-print parts and give the client a prototype has revolutionised the design process,” says Haydn. “It means I can design and produce real parts in under 24 hours, and it massively speeds up the design-fail-redesign process which can often be the best and quickest way to reach the optimum solution for all concerned.

“The motto of the Innovation Centre at Sellafeld is ‘Fail Fast, Fail Safe, Fail Cheap’, and our 3D printer helps us to do precisely that for them, although maybe I would suggest it helps us to ‘Improve Fast, Improve Safe, Improve Cheap’.  I think that this has been a major problem for the nuclear industry in the past, because their approach has been to try to achieve perfection in the design stage, before subjecting their solution to testing and comment by the people who will have to use it. That’s a very slow and frustrating process, and it often ends in a sort of stalemate with no money, time or agreement left to produce a solution.”

Winning Trust

The call Kirsty Hewitson of the National Nuclear Laboratory made for the industry to break out of the old, big-contractor-dominated supply chain and let the SMEs help galvanise the process of change is being answered. The wheels are in motion, says MD Joe Orrell, and RED Engineering is adding to the momentum.

“The growing number of projects we’re being invited to look at shows that the nuclear industry really has recognised the value of the independent, creative, flexible approach we can bring to finding better answers to their engineering challenges.

“Our success over the past ten years in the oil & gas industry has been built on winning the trust of large clients by coming up with excellent engineering solutions under the highest pressures of time, cost and risk. We know that we have to win the same level of trust from the nuclear industry, and we’re absolutely certain that we can do that, now that we’ve been given the chance.”

Interview with Haydn Ford