EDF increases GIS software use at Hinkley Point C nuclear power site

EDF is increasing its use of a geographic information system from Esri to get a central view of construction data in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project

EDF is increasing the use of a geographic information system for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station construction project in Somerset.

The system supplier is Esri UK. EDF is using it to create a portal that gives a single view of the entire project. It is hosted in EDF's Microsoft Azure cloud.

Jon Dolphin, project manager and GIS lead at HPC said, in a statement from Esri: “The scale of the project presents a complex logistical challenge.

“Clarity of construction data is critical and the GIS portal provides a single view of this, which drives collaboration as people can see where things are happening and when. Every employee or contractor is making decisions based on the same data. The confidence this generates makes decision-making faster and strengthens the ability of teams to work more efficiently. As a result, we’ve seen improvements in quality, safety and productivity.”

The portal was set up in a proof-of-concept project in 2020, then implemented it fully in the spring of last year, with 750 users.

More recently, the system has been opened up to what EDF calls “Tier one” contractors, when construction of the nuclear reactors started. There are 1,500 people using it. Tier one contractors on the project include include Bylor, which is a Bouygues and Laing O’Rourke joint venture, Balfour Beatty, Costain, and Bilfinger.

Dolphin said: “Small pilots showed what was possible. Users now browse the spatial data, explore applications and enable new digital workflows relevant to them. The number of portal users is growing daily as more people become aware of what GIS has to offer and more use cases emerge.”

Hinkley Point C is one of Europe’s largest construction projects, with 8,000 workers on the 450-acre site. It is the UK’s first new nuclear power station built since Sizewell B in 1995. 

EDF claims that it will provide around 7% of the UK’s electricity, powering around 6 million homes.

The GIS has replaced paper checklists, clipboards and spreadsheets. Esri cited emergency planning data, said to be used to provide assurance for regulatory purposes, which has now gone digital, collected on tablets and appearing in real-time in the GIS portal.

Another example of spreadsheet replacement that Dolphin gave in the Esri statement is an app created to improve the management of generator permit requests. HPC needed to monitor emissions as the site grew and wanted a detailed understanding of generator use.

Contractors now have the ability to use a mobile app instead of a spreadsheet, to click on a location and request a generator which is submitted into a workflow for approval. “The new digital approach has replaced the previous spreadsheet-based system, which lacked auditability and had no spatial context,” he said.

“Having one GIS portal for our construction data is immensely powerful for breaking down communication barriers, getting everyone on the same page and improving collaboration,” he added.

Future plans include using the GIS to track and optimise the use of plant around the site to reduce emissions and make transport services more intelligent, by tracking the site’s buses and other vehicles.

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