The objective of delivering Technical Support Missions (TSMs) is to help members solve problems related to safety and reliability.
Harry Dixon, TSM Programme Manager at WANO Paris Centre (PC) tells Inside WANO: "In PC we deliver approximately 60 TSMs each year, although this does vary depending on the demand of our members. These missions are a mixture of solving particular problems, benchmark visits and training missions."
"Our TSM group consists of eight team leaders, two assistants and a programme manager; a typical assist visit TSM team would consist of a team leader and a few expert team members. The expert team members come mainly from the industry, and are always WANO members."
The team in PC monitors how many of the TSMs are directly related to areas for improvement (AFIs) from previous peer reviews. The target is that at least 70% of the missions in each year should be in this category. The plan is for at least half of the missions in the future to be performed for plants requiring more assistance.
Cooperation with the WANO Regional Centres
Harry continues: "We have worked with other WANO regional centres for many years, and we now routinely request regional centres to provide an expert team member for each TSM. This provides a great opportunity for us to learn from each other and to spread good practices around the entire WANO membership. We are also now increasingly providing experts to support TSMs in other regional centres."
Technical support missions are not only based on AFIs. They are also requested on a wide range of topics by the WANO members; indeed some are identified by self-assessments carried out by the members themselves.
New plants during construction and commissioning phases are unlikely to have received a full peer review, so TSM topics are often related to establishing processes and programmes for safe and reliable operation. The work currently in progress under the WANO New Unit Assistance (NUA) project helps identify the key areas to focus on for new plants.
Measuring the success of TSMs
"We ask for initial feedback from the plant or the company in the week following the TSM, and we analyse this feedback every year to identify any trends which need to be addressed," explains Harry. "When the peer review team visits the plant on a follow-up mission or at the next peer review, they check the improvements that have been made in the areas where TSMs have been delivered".
FOOTNOTE: For more information on technical support missions, visit the Technical Support & Exchange programme page on our website.