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Bruce Power continually seeks to improve to achieve excellence

Article based on a speech by Jim Ross, Vice President at Bruce A - Bruce Power, to delegates at the WANO SVP and PM Conference in Kyoto 

WANO’s Unity Towards Nuclear Excellence strategy aligns very closely with Bruce Power’s journey to excellence and the steps we have taken as a company to foster continued improvement.

As Canada's only private sector nuclear generator, producing approximately 30 per cent of Ontario's power, we provide a safe, reliable and carbon-free source of affordable energy. We’re also in the process of refurbishing six of our eight units to provide clean energy for decades to come and produce cancer-fighting medical isotopes for the world healthcare community.  

In 2019, Corporate and Station performance at Bruce Power was stagnant in the ‘strong’ category. Recognising the impact that improved station performance has on safety, the Bruce Power Leadership Team made it a focus to re-invigorate the company’s pursuit of excellence.

Two significant organisational changes were made to initiate this effort. Bruce Power introduced both our GOAL organisation (Governance, Oversight, Assessment and Learning) and our Equipment Performance Division. These changes were designed to create strong corporate governance, oversight, and support functions to drive station performance.

The company also introduced its new Excellence Model, setting the tone for organisational effectiveness by focusing on its values, behaviours and common tools towards a common goal of: Safe, Reliable and Securing Tomorrow. The teams and leaders use this model to drive excellence.

Currently, Bruce Power’s overall corporate performance is exemplary and Bruce Power is under normal monitoring.  More importantly, improved performance has also benefited many of its internal safety, reliability, generation and financial metrics.   

A lack of alignment around a consistent Accountability Model was a significant Area for Improvement (AFI) in the 2019 Corporate WANO review. This indicated a need to address performance shortfalls using an aligned Corporate Accountability Model that drives the teamwork required to sustain excellence. 

By defining and driving accountability at all levels, we’re better able to achieve safety performance goals, meet business plan targets, and address long-standing issues. Each rung on the ladder represents the accountability that an individual, leader and/or team must demonstrate to achieve the desired results. When each rung is completed, the next step up the ladder occurs, helping to deliver a high quality, efficient product and improved business results. 

We also updated common desired behaviours to use in our performance review process to measure leader performance to standard behaviours. This included steps to implement the values and behaviours as outlined in INPO 19-003, Staying on Top. In addition, our management system – the programme, procedures, and practices – was simplified.  

With its standards established, Bruce Power needed to improve how it measured performance. The internal suite of key performance indicators were reviewed and refreshed and our partnership with WANO grew in significance.

Our key performance indicators are now aligned with the industry and through benchmarking with other operators, we have now have a much clearer picture of where we stand against our peers and our excellence objective.

Continuous Improvement is a core tenant of our Excellence Model. For example, we found that we were behind the industry in elimination of Single Point Vulnerabilities (SPV). Each SPV is a risk to plant operation if not eliminated or mitigated. Through our excellent planning efforts, we have identified and eliminated many single point vulnerabilities and have hardened our plants to unnecessary transients.

Another focus area has been reducing our maintenance backlogs to improve the material condition of the station and improve equipment reliability. By the end of 2023, our goal is to have reduced our maintenance backlogs by 80 per cent.

To stay on top, robust, and continued oversight is required.  Executives, line management, and oversight organisations identify performance gaps for corrective action, monitor the effectiveness of corrective actions, and elevate or escalate issues to higher levels of management when necessary.

We have learned to embrace oversight and the support and assistance it brings. Open and honest critique helps us identify and arrest performance decline early before potentially significant and impactful events occur.

We place a lot of significance in attracting, developing and retaining talent at Bruce Power.  We nurture this pipeline by partnering with schools and academic institutions. A key component of our leadership development is our Accountable Leadership Program. More than 700 leaders at Bruce Power have completed this program.   

At Bruce Power we understand our successes are built on the success of the industry and our future on the on-going promise and support of nuclear power.  We must continue to operate our current fleet of nuclear reactors at Bruce Power and throughout the world at high levels of excellence.   

These opportunities are not guaranteed. Sustained excellent performance across the global industry is critical to fully realising the benefit of nuclear energy.