Meeting the demand for well-trained RP technicians to provide support during nuclear utility outages has become more challenging as this work force has been steadily decreasing. This scarcity has driven up the cost of staffing outages for nuclear utilities that are already at a disadvantage in our current economically competitive energy marketplace. Professionals at EPRI have been investigating ways to reduce the cost of mobilizing the nuclear industries’ temporary mobile workforce of RP technicians, and identified site specific training for industry-wide maintenance tasks as an area that could be improved upon. To streamline the training requirements for outage RP technicians, EPRI developed a standardized system for assessing their training and qualifications through the Standardized Task Evaluation (STE) Program.
EPRI developed a series of evaluations that have been vetted by industry groups, such as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators (INPO), that can be used for standardized testing of RP technicians. A set of guidelines for administering performance evaluations, the Administrative Protocol for Portable Practicals (AP3), was developed to ensure the consistent appraisal of RP technician’s skills. This standardized approach was developed to give nuclear utilities confidence in the skill sets of their temporary work force, and to reduce the cost of redundant site training for routine maintenance tasks that are common to all utilities.
As a provider of RP technicians, RSCS engaged EPRI to participate in administering task evaluations as an AP3 provider. On October 17, 2018, as the final step in a process that has taken nearly one year to complete, a quorum of EPRI members made up of nuclear operators, international unions, and nuclear supply and services vendors voted unanimously to assign RSCS AP3 Certification. This certification recognizes RSCS as one of a very limited group of companies who have demonstrated the appropriate administrative controls, processes and expertise to implement STEs. The AP3 process included an “on-site” assessment by a team of five EPRI and industry observers, who attended a STE demonstration conducted by RSCS at the University of Massachusetts Lowell reactor site, using our SIM-Teq training simulator equipment. The execution of the evaluation with the SIM-Teq equipment was noted by observers as a positive resource in support of this program. The successful completion of STEs, which may only be conducted by AP3 Certified organizations, allows RP Technicians to attain various task qualifications that will be accepted throughout the nuclear industry. This certification enhances RSCS’ status as a vendor-of-choice for RP technician support, as our capacity to offer pre-qualified RP technicians, reduces in-processing time and related costs. The attainment of this AP3 Certification is one more example of RSCS’s commitment to delivering the nuclear promise.