The solid waste plant at Harwell in Oxfordshire, contains a purpose built facility to input, assay, visually inspect and sort remote handled intermediate level radioactive waste (RHILW). The facility includes a suite of remote handling cells, known as the head-end cells (HEC), which waste must pass through in order to be repackaged. Some newly created waste from decommissioning works on site passes through the cells, but the vast majority of waste for processing is historical waste, stored in below ground tube stores. Existing containers are not suitable for long term storage, many are already badly corroded, so the waste must be efficiently processed and repackaged in order to achieve passive safety. The Harwell site is currently being decommissioned and the land is being restored. The site is being progressively delicensed, and redeveloped as a business park, which can only be completed when all the nuclear liabilities have been removed. The recovery and processing of old waste in the solid waste plant is a key project linked to delicensing of a section of the site. Increasing the operational efficiency of the waste processing plant could shorten the time needed to clear the site and has the potential to save money for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The waste processing facility was constructed in the mid 1990s, and commissioned in 1999. Since operations began, the yearly throughput of the cells has increased significantly every year. To achieve targets set out in the lifetime plan (LTP) for the site, throughput must continue to increase. The operations department has measured the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) of the process for the last few years, and has used continuous improvement techniques to decrease the average cycle time. Philosophies from operational management practices such as ‘lean’ and ‘kaizen’ have been employed successfully to drive out losses and increase plant efficiency. This paper will describe how the solid waste plant at Harwell has continuously increased the throughput of RHILW, which should lead to significant programme savings.

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