Sell-able Assets

Sell-able Assets

Paul Nolan from cable management specialists, Unitrunk, discusses the training the company provides to electrical & instrumentation and design apprentices at Sellafield.

Nuclear power generation ceased at Sellafield in 2003 and the site’s Windscale reactor is currently being decommissioned; a process which involves considerable construction activity to dismantle the plant and create nuclear storage facilities.

It’s anticipated that this will be followed by the construction of new nuclear generation capability in a rolling project that has seen Sellafield become one of the largest construction sites in Europe with a huge requirement for skilled labour over the next two decades

Sellafield takes on 30-35 new electrical and instrumentation apprentices each year, supporting them through a four-year level 3 apprenticeship, and new talent at the site must be trained in the use of materials that have been approved for use in the nuclear industry.

Supply chain engagement

Unitrunk was approached to deliver both classroom and practical training to Sellafield apprentices in the second year of their apprenticeship, providing an insight into different cable management systems and finishes, along with practical installation skills needed to install Unitrunk’s EasyConnect cable basket RIS (Rapid Installation System) range, which has been approved for use in nuclear projects.

The Unitrunk training came about when head of apprentice training at Sellafield, Steve Bewsher, asked his local wholesaler to recommend an existing approved supplier that could offer on-site training.

As Unitrunk is not only an approved supplier for Sellafield but also has existing partnerships with further education colleges and an established track record of delivering both CPDs and on-site cutting and bending training, the wholesaler helped to put the wheels in motion for the Unitrunk team to develop a tailored course for Sellafield apprentices.

Classroom training

The training begins with a classroom presentation based on Unitrunk’s CPD presentation about correct specification of cable management materials. This session includes both electrical and instrumentation apprentices and design apprentices, who will be responsible for designing the cable management infrastructure into future projects.

The session discusses the scale of corrosion risk for cable management, advising the apprentices on environmental factors, encouraging them to run through a checklist of considerations such as whether the cable management is required indoors, whether the atmosphere will be clean or polluted and what the impact of Sellafield’s coastal location will be on product selection.

The presentation goes on to explain the differences in finish available for cable management products and outlines the processes involved in manufacturing ‘pre-galvanised’ and ‘hot dipped galvanised’ products and the varying levels of corrosion resistance they provide reiterating the need for informed product choices to avoid over or under-specification.

The classroom training also provides an opportunity to discuss the various types of cable management, including cable ladder, cable tray, cable basket and trunking, highlighting common applications for each generic system type. This provides an opportunity to discuss scenarios where cable basket can be used instead of cable tray to reduce installation times and load bearing requirements while still offering a robust installation.

Finally, students are introduced to Unitrunk’s Rapid Installation Systems philosophy (RIS) and the EasyConnect system, prior to hands-on training.


The final part of the classroom session provides the perfect segue to hands-on cutting and bending training. Involving electrical and instrumentation apprentices only, this element of the training combines demonstrations of forming common tees, bends and joins with practical experience of handling the product.

Apprentices learn about bend radii, using the right depth and width of tray for the cabling requirements, use of dividers to separate power and data cabling and common installation requirements, such as connecting cable basket to channel or utilising cable basket as risers.

By the end of the two hour session, the apprentices are confident at cutting, shaping, bending and connecting the EasyConnect cable basket and competent in handling the product safely. It’s important that they have the skills to benefit from the rapid installation design of the product and that they learn safe cutting and bending techniques as this will help Sellafield to leverage the full value of reduced installation times and labour costs.

Following the two-hour practical session, the apprentices are able to practice the skills they’ve learned under the supervision of Sellafield’s in-house team.

Addressing the skills gap

Active engagement between supply chain partners is a vital to addressing the skills gap and Unitrunk’s work with Sellafield’s apprentices demonstrates the success and future potential of this approach.

For more information about the range of products available from Unitrunk visit:

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