Altrad Babcock & the ANRC

Altrad Babcock attended the ANRC showcase 2023 to share more on the company’s innovation and was represented by Bert Holt,  Director of Lochore Consultancy Ltd and consultant to Altrad Babcock.

Bert shared with us more on Altrad Babcock’s involvement with the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre and what they have gained from being a member over the years.

Involvement with the ANRC

‘I've been involved with the ANRC since, about six months after the concept of the ANRC was started, and the company joined from that point. So, I've been involved the whole way through the first phase of the ANRC developing the technology roadmaps for the research and innovation work aligned to the business plans of the industrial partners.


While in the current economic climate industrial partners are looking at maximising utilisation of resources there's very little headroom for staff to do innovation and product development. So, by outsourcing, and using an organisation like the ANRC in the universities to do that external research for you, but working in partnership with the industrial partner, allows you to continue with product development, but also maximise your quality of earnings by the best utilisation your staff.’

Working With Universities 

'The University of Strathclyde understand the end user and have a more practical element to what they're doing.   It's not just about pure research, it's actually doing research for an end benefit to an industrial partner, with the end use always in their focus, and their return on investment, on that innovation.  

For me, the UK focus has to be linked to the government strategy… and that's the net zero strategy with a big part of the net zero strategy growing the nuclear industry. That aligns perfectly to what the ANRC’s long term goals are of developing innovation, to drive efficiency and processes, not only in nuclear, new build and operation with plant, but also in the decommissioning market. 

The government has put targets of 20% to 25% cost reduction in decommissioning that only comes from digitisation, and novel technologies. That's where the ANRC, working with industrial partners, fits in, and linking up to the government strategy.’

Abstract image of technology concepts.

Challenges in the Nuclear Sector

‘The biggest challenges that face the nuclear sector, especially when you're trying to bring new innovative products into the market, is that the nuclear sector is very conservative and therefore reluctant to change. It takes a lot of time to drive any innovative techniques or efficiency or software, etc, into the business. You've always got to have safety as the number one priority and you've got to make sure that anything that you're trying to introduce to that market does not impact nuclear safety…and that always takes time. That's the biggest thing that you have to overcome.

 Digitalisation is the key to driving efficiencies.

Issues within customer organisations of the data (commercial aspects, firewalls, security barriers) stop obvious efficiencies from being gained. My personal view is we need to look at new commercial models about licencing IP, looking at gain share models, etc. so that innovative technology can be deployed in a quicker way.

The problem is over the years that the skills gap is getting larger and we as a country have stopped investing in apprenticeships and graduate schemes. There is an age gap of people coming through to meet the future needs and I think we need to look further abroad to meet that skills gap at the moment.’


University of Strathclyde - Advanced Nuclear Research Centre.