A top-manager of the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation dwells on the crisis, BIM-technologies and lack of qualified specialists
The construction of nuclear power stations is one of the most advanced sectors of the Russian economy. Builders have to adapt both to the market requirements and the use of new advanced technologies because the NNP are often constructed abroad. Gennady SAKHAROV, Capital Investments Director of the Rosatom Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, answers Construction.RU’s questions about how the industry survives the crisis
— Mr Sakharov, please, say something about the results of last year’s work in the construction complex of the atomic energy industry.
— 2016 was rather complicated. We had to fulfill the task of putting 25 objects in operation. All the objects planned were put in operation, the allotted federal budget was made full use of, and the main thing is that the State Defense Procurement and Acquisition was fulfilled.
Our achievements are the commencing of the forth unit of the Beloyarsk NPP and the first reactor of the Novovoronezh NPP-2. The Novovoronezh NPP is an innovation unit where Russian technologies are used, and there are no such units anywhere else in the world. The task was rather complicated from the technological point of view, and many things had to be elaborated. Last year, we faced the same problems as a country on the whole.
— The construction industry is said to be the last to enter and to leave the crisis. How is this condition felt in your sector?
— Directly, of course. And the crisis really came to our sphere much later. Why so? Because builders have already financed contracts which last for several years. However, we have already come across the situation whereby the companies we really need on the market do not take part in tenders.
Specialists might seem to appear on the market as a result of some companies’ going bankrupt, but this does not happen and I do not know why. Maybe they leave for some other industries?
For example, we had to take installation staff from Novovoronezh to Rostov and 200 people moved. Of course, it would be better if we could find qualified specialists locally.
— Could you give some figures? How many companies-contractors working with you have gone bankrupt?
— I cannot tell you the exact figures on the spot, but about 20%. All the processes taking place in the country impact on the situation with salaries and construction materials’ costs, etc. A kind of reframing of the economy is presently taking place.
— How efficiently did you manage to spend the budget money? Did you manage to save anything in 2016?
— Our corporation is a government business enterprise, and we always see to the efficient use of the allotted money. The efficiency is primarily connected with tender procedures.
It is traditional work. Presently, however, we decrease the efficiency due to the use of innovation technologies. Last year, we had a very good contract for ground replacement at the Kursk NPP-2. Several days ago we finalised the project — the economy is about 1 bln roubles ($17.5m).
The main thing is that we have practiced the technologies and are sure to use them in India, Bangladesh and Hungary, because there are similar problems with the soil there. So the billion we have saved at the Kursk NPP will bring us several billion.
Efficiency is the main concern for us right now, as we have learnt all the rest, such as finance managing and orginising tenders. Our procurement system is acknowledged as the best in the industry.
— What are the tasks for this year?
— We are looking for new ways of increasing efficiency. In autumn we are organising a large conference in the sphere of construction to discuss the prospects of the development of the nuclear industry construction complex, business models and digital platforms. We shall have to update the system of cost management and construction terms, etc. within two years, and the new system should be acknowledged and understandable on an international level.
— Will you manage?
— We must. We have a very strong team…
— Major construction changes for the resource method of price forming. Is it a painful process?
— I would not say so. It is not a new thing for us and we do not see any revolution in it. We have always planned according to the basic-index method and have used the resource method.
Our calculations show that the deviation in the basic-index method is 8—10%, and in the resource method it is 5—6%. Only the latter is used abroad, so we are ready to switch over to it.
— Are BIM-technologies used in your industry?
— I have already mentioned that we are creating new systems for cost and terms management. As with any other system it consists of three parts. The first component is people with their knowledge, skills and corporative culture; the second one is the methodology, and the third is a digital platform.
The basis of the digital platform is BIM and IT programs. There is no question concerning whether to use this or not: working with foreign customers, it is included in technical tasks.
For example, two weeks ago one of our customers received the IT-model of a NPP at the project stage. We can do this, and we have advanced technologies. The complexity is that Russia has no standards, norms and regulations in this sphere, and it needs to be created.
— Vice-Premier Igor Shuvalov promised that the regulatory base would start working in Russia from 2018.
— A new road map on BIM implementation has been developed, and another one is being developed by the RF Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities. The second attempt is likely to be more successful. The item is rather complicated, and it is certainly there we can see where to develop and what to improve. We work in Europe, and any contractor there uses BIM technologies even for a school construction.
— Do students at the Moscow State Construction University study BIM?
— No, and that’s the problem. But we organise additional courses for BIM and English, and third-year students start having practical experience. We need high-level specialists who will work both in Russia and abroad. The rector supports us fully, and some changes will be included in the curriculum.
— Speaking about specialists, is there a problem to find, say, a highly qualified welder?
— Yes, there is, and it is also a problem. We shall have to change the business-model and approaches. We used to plan that we would offer jobs to people from the market, and due to competitiveness the best will come to us. However, we see now that the market does not give us a sufficient number of specialists, so we understand that for specialised work we must train welders and other qualified workers.
The problem is that about 30% of welders left for Gazprom, Rosneft, as the level of salaries there is much higher.
— Are salaries different at state enterprises and JSC?
— Our salaries are a bit higher than the regional ones, but theirs are 2—3 fold higher. We cannot compete in this sphere. However, there is a way out via the creation of social support programs.
— You mentioned earlier that there was a lack of specialists for working abroad. How is it now?
— It still exists, and we have to additionally train students. Three months ago we agreed with Milan Technical University, with whom we have long been cooperating in a business-school, to develop a special program for training our specialists. We have agreed that our specialists will undergo training in the best foreign companies, including engineering ones. Additionally, three international companies, our partners, will work in Russia and train our personnel only in English.