Y-12 rapidly restarts after production pause, on schedule
Y-12 completed the suspension and resumption of all operating areas, including canned subassembly production for the B61-12 program, within a six week window.
Pausing and restarting production operations in a complex nuclear facility understandably poses significant challenges. Despite this, Y-12 was able to accomplish both the suspension and resumption of all operating areas, including canned subassembly production for the B61-12 program, within a six week window.
Y-12 began transitioning to reduced mission critical operations on April 6, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to keeping the workforce in a “ready state,” significant efforts were undertaken during the on site staffing reduction to ensure that equipment was also maintained in a ready state. This included the exercise of rotating equipment, ensuring processes were paused in favorable conditions, and continuing selected preventive maintenance.
“We understand our equipment — how it runs, what is needed to keep it running, and what actions to take to be sure we can quickly recover,” said Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal. “There are times in my history here where I would not have made that statement. Through our actions, we have proven our competence.”
After less than one month in reduced mission critical operations, ramp up activities began on May 4, with selected staff preparing the way for the rest of the workforce’s return. These activities included additional equipment preparation and implementation of COVID-19 controls.
On May 19, Y-12 completed restart of all operating areas that were paused, including CSA production for the B61-12. This rapid recovery also demonstrates the effectiveness of equipment and facility maintenance improvements over the last several years. The efforts of the integrated team that included Infrastructure, Engineering, Environment, Safety, and Health, and Production Operations contributed significantly to the efficient restart of all critical operations, which led to Y-12’s ability to meet FY20 mission deliverable schedules.
“We were faced with a challenge of implementing new infectious disease controls. But, true to our principle of participative decision making, we knew we had to bring the work force back on site in order to help define controls that would work for them,” Tindal said. “The engagement and creativity has been phenomenal.”