Reducing Cost of Quality in Your Nuclear Supply Chain With Parts Quality Initiative
April 12, 2022
In 2006, Constellation PowerLabs Parts Quality Initiative program (PQI) was founded to safeguard against downtime due to critical parts failure. Previously, 43 percent of the total Constellation fleet capacity factor losses resulted from parts-related quality issues. Through the implementation of PQI, the fleet was able to better regulate quality and ensure equipment reliability by identifying failed parts before entering inventory.
The Cost of Quality
The cost of quality is high when single point vulnerability components are not properly tested, causing transients, delays, and reduced plant safety and reliability. Inadequate maintenance work practices, lack of preventative maintenance and misapplication of adequate parts contribute to equipment failures. While there are a variety factors impacting equipment failures, manufacturing defects and poor-quality parts are the most reported cause of equipment failures.
Without a methodical data-driven PQI Testing program, poor quality parts are inventoried and typically bench tested just prior to installation. If a part fails, a replacement is then pulled from the warehouse (if available). Failed parts identified at this time typically affect schedule adherence. If installed, inadequate parts may fail premature to the maintenance strategy replacement schedule, causing unplanned equipment failures, expediting of replacement parts, increased costs and negative impact on maintenance rule time restrictions.
Ensuring Quality Parts in Your Supply Chain
To better eliminate manufacturing defects and poor-quality parts from entering inventory, Constellation began PQI testing components before they are received into inventory. Constellation has devised component-specific PQI test templates, performs the testing, and documents test results in a predictive analytics database. Decades of accumulated failure rate data empowers better supply chain management through predictive analytics. The PQI database contains thousands of historic make and model-specific failure data trends and identifies which critical parts to PQI test.
PQI critical characteristics’ testing ensures defective parts are identified before inventorying and installation, reducing downtime, labor and logistics costs. Testing newly procured parts before inventorying allows failed parts to be replaced for free within the warranty window, resulting in substantial cost savings. Inventoried parts can also be PQI tested to verify older parts still perform their critical function.
PQI in Practice
A plant sent in 31 solenoid valves from their warehouse to be PQI tested. Among the 31 samples that were tested, one failed. A failure of this installed solenoid valve could have triggered a turbine trip resulting in a unit scram if the redundant valve did not pick up fast enough. This can cost the plant almost $3 million at full power, including expenses associated with lost generation, recovery, penalties for grid maintenance i.e. forced outage maintenance, etc.
PQI Testing Regulates Equipment Reliability
The goal of PQI is to improve equipment reliability by minimizing the risk of poor quality parts from entering plant inventory. Since 2006, PQI has identified 7 percent of deficient parts among 75,000 parts tested through 2019, helping reduce unplanned transients, generation loss, parts unavailability and safety system unavailability.
Our Parts Quality Initiative (PQI) program is only growing as we test more components each year. Learn more about our living program and how Constellation PowerLabs is helping empower better supply chain management practices through PQI.