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Emma Jayne Gooch

Cumbrian SMEs on cloud nine after winning Sellafield ‘lighter than air’ robot challenge

Published on: Wednesday 6th June 2018

A trio of small businesses from across Cumbria are on cloud nine after winning a competition to produce a ‘lighter than air’ robot to help decommission Sellafield.

Furness Engineering based in Ulverston, and a collaboration between Barrow-based Rovtech and Ennefftech from Thursby, near Carlisle, will now develop a robot that can remotely inspect internal roof fixtures in buildings set to be decommissioned at the complex nuclear site in West Cumbria.

The three are the latest companies to win work through the LINC website portal, which was launched in September last year to give SMEs a new direct route to business opportunities at the Sellafield site.

A total of 230 business, 188 of which are SMEs, have registered on the platform where they can submit proposals on their own or in collaboration with other registered companies to solve challenges and help Sellafield Limited save both time and money.

The three companies impressed Sellafield Ltd’s supply chain team with their proposal for a robot that can undertake extended flight times with minimal down-draught.

Emma-Jayne Gooch, head of supply chain development and innovation at Sellafield Ltd, said the response to the third challenge to be posed through the LINC platform had been “fantastic”.

“We’re delighted to be able to award this challenge to three Cumbria-based SMEs,” she said.

“As always, we’ve been blown away by the creativity and innovation of small businesses who never fail to rise to the challenge.

“The clean-up of Sellafield is an internationally important environmental restoration that will take many decades.

“We’re committed to ensuring SMEs are given every opportunity to benefit from this.

“In return, Sellafield Ltd benefits from the inventiveness, efficiency, and flexibility that small companies are so good at bringing.”

In December, Cleator Moor-based React Engineering partnered with Cheshire's B2B secured the first LINC project with a proposal on how Sellafield Ltd could achieve ISO 44001 accreditation, which relates to collaborative business relationship management systems.

LINC was extended earlier this year to cover all opportunities emanating from the site, bringing in to play projects from the big tier companies.

The LINC portal is a key part of a new supply chain strategy designed to break down barriers for businesses looking to win work at Sellafield and foster a more collaborative approach to the site’s huge clean-up agenda.

The strategy aims to save £1 billion by 2020 and accelerate risk and hazard reduction at the site by 25 per cent.

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