Y-12 Blog

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 1:30pm

A RAP member performs a preventive radiological nuclear detection sweep at one of the Super Bowl LII venues displaying all of the Super Bowl rings.A RAP member performs a preventive radiological nuclear detection sweep at one of the Super Bowl LII venues displaying all of the Super Bowl rings.

Seven members of the Region 2 Radiological Assistance Program based out of Y-12 recently attended Super Bowl LII. Rather than cheering for their favorite team, however, these members traveled to Minneapolis to assist FBI and other federal, state, and local agencies by performing preventive radiological nuclear detection (PRND) surveys prior to the big game.

Jeff Barroso, RAP Region 2 operations manager, said, “The RAP team is staffed primarily by volunteer members who serve as health physicists, engineers, etc., for their day-to-day jobs. Throughout the year, RAP team members participate in routine training exercises to prepare for PRND deployments. Once or twice a year, they are deployed to large PRND events like the Super Bowl or the Presidential Inauguration. The RAP team stands ready to respond to radiological and nuclear incidents year round on a moment’s notice. The team members take pride in knowing they are contributing to the nation’s security.”

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 1:16pm

Project team members from Y‑12 and Merrick & Company during evaluation of the electrorefining glovebox mock‑up at the fabrication facility.Project team members from Y‑12 and Merrick & Company during evaluation of the electrorefining glovebox mock‑up at the fabrication facility.

While Y-12 is well known for enriching uranium, we also enrich careers.

“In Engineering, you never know when you may be presented with an opportunity that has the potential to enrich your career,” Bill Heineken, Y-12 Engineering, said. Recently, he learned of a Y-12 project that needed a liaison to the project’s design contractor, Merrick & Company, in Denver, Colorado. He submitted his name as a potential candidate while knowing few other details, and the following week, he was told he would be assisting the Electrorefining Project.

“A significant portion of my Y-12 career has been supporting enriched uranium operations in a variety of roles, so I was excited about having a part in this project,” he said. “The ER Project is a unique effort in the modernization of Y-12. It is one of the rare times when a new process technology is proposed to replace multiple current process operations.”

ER technology can receive “dirty” uranium metal and purify it to clean uranium metal in three process steps using an electrolytic cell, a salt vaporization oven, and a consolidation oven. The electrolytic cell houses the purification activities, and the ovens convert the cell product into a uranium button, Heineken explained.

“My role was not technical or engineering focused; instead, it allowed me to identify needs for the project to proceed and to reduce barriers,” he said. He identified actions for fostering communication and co-ownership of specific design deliverables, which both Y-12 and Merrick implemented.

“The real success, however, came from the joint project team,” he said. Together Y-12 and Merrick developed a recovery schedule and met the near-term milestones. The project has completed 100 percent design and will be initiating fabrication.

“I cannot wait for the day when the first purified enriched uranium metal is produced by the installed production equipment and hazards are reduced in Building 9212,” he said. “That will be the ultimate success for this project team.”

Having that enthusiasm is what makes working at Y-12 so exciting—it’s more than a job.

Posted: Monday, February 12, 2018 - 9:12am

Gene Patterson (left) and Alison Sides present a donation on behalf of the Y‐12 Employee Advisory Committee to the Little Ponderosa Zoo’s owner James Cox.Gene Patterson (left) and Alison Sides present a donation on behalf of the Y‐12 Employee Advisory Committee to the Little Ponderosa Zoo’s owner James Cox.

After a unanimous vote, members of CNS’s Y‑12 Employee Advisory Committee donated $1,500 to @The Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue in Clinton. The main barn was destroyed by a fire on December 4, and dozens of animals died in the blaze.

Gene Patterson and committee member Alison Sides visited the zoo. “Members of the Y‑12 committee did not hesitate when asked to help out the zoo. They saw the need and voted with their hearts,”
Patterson said.

Sides said, “Visiting the zoo and seeing the destruction was a real eye‑opener. I am proud of our committee for the unanimous vote to help the zoo. It is going to a great cause in a time of dire need.”

Posted: Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 6:03pm

For 15 years, Y-12 employees have recycled aluminum cans and donated the proceeds to local charities. The donations are made twice a year, and fall of 2017 marked the thirtieth distribution of donations.

Y-12’s employees and contractors nominated 17 worthwhile organizations to receive an Aluminum Beverage Can (ABC) recycling program donation this fall. The ABC Committee selected four local charities that each received a $200 donation.

Compassion Closet — Compassion Closet provides clothing, durable goods, and support for local foster and adoptive families. This donation will be used to purchase new convertible car seats as those are the number-one requested item.

East Knox Free Medical Clinic —a free medical clinic that provides care to indigent East Knoxville citizens. The funds will be used to purchase materials to improve the clinic space.

Gracie’s Gifts — provides specialized clothing for premature babies free of charge in the NICU. Gracie’s Gifts will use these funds to purchase the fabric and special closures needed for the smocks and dye-free fabric for the over-sized blankets.

Hands of Mercy — a food pantry in Kingston, Tennessee, providing food for needy families. This $200 donation will be used to purchase food and supplies for needy families.

Posted: Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 6:01pm

Y‑12 craftsmen learn how to use a grease caddy for ultrasound lubrication.Y‑12 craftsmen learn how to use a grease caddy for ultrasound lubrication.

Has your air conditioning ever gone out in the middle of August? Did your dishwasher quit working when it was fully loaded from a dinner party? These types of equipment failures certainly leave us frustrated, but have you ever thought about much larger equipment failures … like the type that can delay production at a national security site for days, weeks, or months?

Enterprise Reliability and Maintainability manager Paul Durko spends a lot of time thinking about keeping Pantex and Y‑12’s equipment running so both sites can operate safely, securely, and productively. With many World War II‑era buildings and a variety of aging equipment, achieving those objectives is no small feat.

Durko’s team works with more than 530 craftspeople to complete more than 61,000 work orders each year. Just keeping up with that amount of work is a daunting task, but wanting to improve the way that work is accomplished requires a process and a special level of commitment. Fortunately, CNS has that process — preventive maintenance optimization (PMO) — and committed crafts and maintenance staff.

Maintenance strategies are evaluated through PMO, resulting in standardized tasks, which reduces maintenance errors and increases reliability. PMO has already reduced planning time by an average of 64 percent while increasing throughput by 19 percent. Durko is quick to credit the crafts as the driving force behind this success. “They are the eyes and ears of the enterprise,” he said. “Their input brings the preventive maintenance program up to date and adds value to the customer.”

Through PMO and efficiency gains, maintenance and crafts have the opportunity to implement best practices for the various maintenance tasks. “There’s a tendency to equate improved efficiency with job loss,” noted Durko. “We’re looking for efficiencies so we have the time to improve the way we provide maintenance, while also increasing the amount of preventive maintenance work completed at both sites.”
One way the crafts have driven improvement is by using ultrasound lubrication to ensure proper lubrication of bearings, which is essential to equipment reliability. This technique has been successfully piloted at both sites, and further expansion is planned.

Now ER&M wants to capitalize on those efficiency gains by using precision maintenance techniques and the resultant data to move toward condition‑based maintenance. Going back to the original, more mundane example, they want to know when to work on your air conditioner so it doesn’t go out in August.

CBM is maintenance that is performed based upon indicators from activities like surveillances, inspections, vibration monitoring, and ultrasound detection. Vibration analysis on rotating assets is the most mature predictive technology across the enterprise. In the last few years, the focus on this technology has shifted to effective use of the data provided. By analyzing this data, personnel can perform maintenance in advance of equipment failure that could injure personnel, adversely affect production, and potentially cause secondary damage to the equipment. At Y-12, the vibration program currently monitors more than 300 mission-critical assets. The program also monitors rotating assets at the Pantex High Explosives Production Facility, with revitalization and expansion planned during this fiscal year.

Predictive technology has also strengthened the effectiveness of post-work testing. Use of the vibration meter allows the craftsperson to verify that maintenance activities conducted on rotating assets did not adversely impact the reliability. The ultrasound meter has been used to improve post‑work leak checks, thus increasing the confidence in the repairs.

Durko is enthusiastic about where CBM can take the enterprise, while incorporating reliability centered maintenance‑based principles during the design phase to decrease overall maintenance cost. “Crafts and Maintenance management can evolve into a world‑class maintenance organization,” he said.