Managing Nuclear Knowledge Assets

Nuclear Knowledge Management (NKM) is the application of knowledge management practices to address the specific knowledge asset management needs of nuclear organizations. NKM helps such organizations to address the problems associated with managing the accumulation, retention, transfer and use of 'knowledge' assets.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) explains the importance of NKM as follows:

The accident at Fukushima demonstrated, dramatically, the importance to safety of effective decision making through-out all phases of a nuclear plant life-cycle: in design, in construction, in operations, in maintenance, in emergency response, and in decommissioning. And it is clear that effective and consistently reliable decision making in complex nuclear technology environments can only be achieved when workers have the right training, experience, work methods, technology support, work culture and organizational support. These conditions can only be established and sustained over time with strategic organizational knowledge management.

Source: “Managing Nuclear Knowledge, A Pocket Guide”, International Atomic Energy Agency. Vienna, Austria


NKM Implementation Requirements

The implementation requirements for NKM differ from an organization's duties; generally beginning with the identification of core business processes and high-expertise jobs including:

  • Regulatory Bodies
    Approval and licensing work in compliance with regulatory laws, enactment of technical standards, and legal inspections.

  • Technical Support Organizations
    Technical documents and safety assessments to support Regulatory Body approval work, and the collection and analysis of accident and trouble information.

  • Research and Development Organizations
    Research and development of nuclear safety assessment methods, experiment planning and implementation, data collection and analysis.

  • Engineering Companies
    Design and safety evaluation, fabrication, installation of nuclear power plants.

  • Nuclear Power Plant Operators
    Installation, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

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The Basic NKM Implementation Cycle

The basic implementation cycle for NKM is similar in many ways to that of general Knowledge Management (KM), with the major difference being that NKM requires deep knowledge and experience related to the specifics of the nuclear energy industry in its many forms to ensure accurate analysis of the knowledge-dependent work processes involved.

The figure on the left is an example of a typical, basic NKM implementation cycle, which procedes as follows:

  • First, determine the existing state of work process management, identify all significant knowledge required by each business process, and identify the relevant content for same.

  • Second, survey and evaluate the current trends in NKM methods and tools, and apply the best practices and lessons learnt to arrange the requirements and scope of work.

  • Third, design the NKM framework and IT architecture, and catalog supporting NKM literature such as guidelines & instructions

  • Forth, implement the NKM system & monitor its maturity to provide feedback from lessons learnt.