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How to achieve plant-wide safety in the nuclear industry

29 July 2022

Omniflex has released the first of its new nuclear safety whitepapers, providing a guide on everything from radiation surveillance equipment to SIL-rated alarm systems.

With the UK Government set to invest in accelerating nuclear power generation as part of its net zero by 2050 goal, Omniflex is sharing its knowledge of how to operate nuclear facilities as safely as possible. The whitepaper can be downloaded for free from Omniflex’s website.

The nuclear industry is well known for being highly regulated and operating under the most stringent health and safety regulations. In fact, there is arguably no other industry sector where mission-critical safety systems matter more. According to regulations set by the Health and Safety Executive and the Office of Nuclear Regulators, a key part of managing nuclear site safety is radiological monitoring and the recording of all live and historical data.

To meet these requirements and navigate the decommissioning phase at the Sellafield nuclear site, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and Sellafield Ltd. engaged Omniflex to engineer commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products to network radiological surveillance equipment. This led to the creation of Omniflex’s Radiological Protection Node 1 (RPN1) and W3 Wireless Interface Node, both of which are based on Omniflex’s Teleterm technology.

“The installation of the RPN1 across the Sellafield nuclear site helped NNL save over £1 million in costs and ensured that time spent by personnel in radiologically active areas was greatly reduced,” explained Gary Bradshaw, Director at Omniflex. 

“Furthermore, because of the benefits offered by our plug-and-play systems in terms of networking radiological monitors, Omniflex is now the preferred technology partner for Sellafield Ltd.

“Sitting at the heart of both the RPN1 and W3 is our Teleterm technology, a state-of-the-art remote terminal unit (RTU) designed to increase remote monitoring capabilities in the most cost-effective way possible. 

“The Teleterm products feature an on-board RS232/485 port that can be used to acquire data from third-party devices, such as Ultra, Mirion, John Caunt and Berthold alpha, beta and gamma monitors, using either the Modbus protocol or custom protocols. This is vital for nuclear plant managers relying on devices sourced from a variety of manufacturers.”

Networking radiological monitors isn’t the only way that Omniflex is helping nuclear sites improve site safety. Omniflex’s range of alarm annunciators is the world’s first to be substantiated by EMPHASIS for use in SIL applications in the nuclear industry and the company is now the standard approved supplier of SIL-1 rated alarm annunciators and SIL-2 rated door warning alarms and slave alarm units for the UK’s nuclear industry.

“The SIL-rating shows that Omniflex’s alarm annunciators have been independently assessed and certified to a high standard,” continued Bradshaw. 

“This gives plant managers the confidence they need that the systems they rely on to keep their sites running safely won't fail them at the crucial moment.”

In the nuclear industry, where saving money and improving safety don’t often go hand-in-hand, Omniflex is bringing the two together. To find out more, visit the Omniflex website and download the whitepaper.

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