ATB grows in the nuclear sector: new spaces, technologies and innovative processes

An hub dedicated to manufacture casks. Production enhanced with ATB Manufacturing System.

ATB grows in the nuclear sector

Diversification is a key concept in the strategies that the ATB Group has prioritised in its development process with the reorganisation that took place in January 2019. In the last ten months, this has also translated into the practical evolution of its production capacity, in terms of both quality and quantity. And the nuclear field was the area that brought a wind of change as well as interesting and long-lived business prospects. Nowadays, in fact, ATB is manufacturing the next-generation cask prototypes requested by the French Orano TN, thanks to the expertise of the Heavy Equipment Division.

This is considered such a noble product that Sergio Trombini, President of the ATB Group, decided to make important investments in the last two years aimed at expanding spaces and enhancing the technologies required by this new industrial challenge. The last concrete step in this direction was building an hub, specifically designed to make the steel containers used for storing and dispose of waste fuels from nuclear power plants.

«The cask is an innovative product that needs standardised production. Therefore, we have created a tailor-made organisation, that is, a nuclear division with people focused exclusively on this activity, and a dedicated line in the area of warehouse 1,' explains Luigi Redaelli, Managing Director of the Heavy Equipment Division. «That is the reason why we designed a layout that minimised set-up and handling times. Everything is designed to guarantee standardised processes and to make personnel's work easy».

There are two areas is the new nuclear hub: a first section in which all the semi-finished products are made plus taping and welding operations, and a second part for monitoring, welding of copper heat sinks, resin coating and helium tests.

The workshop, formerly used for light structural steelwork, was reinforced to accommodate the cask making process. In addition to a new 100-ton overhead crane, the 'clean room' to manufacture steel components was equipped with new and high-productivity machinery. The equipment of the work stations, on the other hand, has been manufactured in-company as modules that can be adapted to different types of casks.  

The technological upgrade was accompanied by a reorganisation of the planning and production logics. «We shifted from a centralised system managed following an MRP logic to a lean manufacturing model», continues Redaelli. «We called it the 'ATB Manufacturing System', and it is the plus that helps stabilise our production system, optimising the times needed to process orders and assigning clear objectives and responsibilities to the people who are increasingly involved, and at the centre of our processes».


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