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Journey of Excellence

The story of Southern Nuclear’s Hatch Nuclear Power Plant
Sara Waters, Internal Communications Lead, Southern Nuclear Operating Company

Cross-functional first line supervisor teams at the annual alignment meetingIn 2012, operational excellence was the vision, but average was the reality for Hatch nuclear plant. With just a glance at the station’s key performance indicators, such as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) index and equipment reliability index, most industry professionals would agree that Hatch had plateaued at mediocrity. A necessary transformation was about to begin.

“When I arrived at Hatch as the new Plant Manager in 2012, the station anticipated some changes that come with new leadership,” said Hatch Site Vice President David Vineyard. “I don’t know that anyone could have anticipated what would happen next - not even myself.”

“Departments had become insulated; we were working in silos,” recalls Work Management Director Keith Long. “When we had an emergent plant issue to resolve, no one was volunteering to take the lead to find and fix the problem. Today, we have a ‘one team’ culture, with everyone pulling together to achieve and sustain excellence.”

Plant Hatch includes two boiling water reactors with a total capacity of 1,848MW. Operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Company, the plant is located about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. The units began commercial operation in 1975 and 1979.

Instead of focusing on process, Vineyard and former Site Vice President Dennis Madison focused the senior team on leadership using an engagement model that’s still active three years later. The model contains eleven principles grouped into three categories: establish the team, develop capabilities and get the job done. The team embraced the model in monthly offsite alignment The Engagement Model is a tool the entire station uses to teach and coachmeetings to effectively implement targeted performance improvement initiatives.

The leadership emphasis is evident today in leadership teamwork and accountability as well as favourable metrics and scorecards.

One notable result was that the station began to see significant improvement in work management, resulting in high levels of schedule adherence and completion of high-priority work.

“During our 2014 Unit 1 outage, we completed more than 120 work orders that directly improved plant performance and repaired five of our top ten items to drive our plant to better performance,” said Engineering Director Anthony Giancatarino. “The cross-discipline ownership of equipment reliability is key to resolving many system health issues.”

Recent evaluations and visiting utilities have noted a strong operational focus that minimises operator workarounds, burdens and control room deficiencies. Cross-functional teams of Radiation Protection, Engineering and Maintenance employees collaborate to implement technology that yields reductions in collective radiation exposure.

“As we continue on our journey of excellence, I know that our team and our station will grow stronger and stronger,” said Vineyard. “We are one team.”