A Day in the Life Series: The Paragon I&C Lab Extends the Life of Nuclear Assets

Paragon is the largest third-party repair company in the nuclear industry. The company performs commercial-grade dedication, qualification, manufacturing, and repairs, all the with goal of extending the life of existing assets.

The work Paragon does enables nuclear facilities to operate safely and efficiently for future generations.

Meet many of the Paragon team members who are behind the scenes performing this critical work, and see the amazing work that takes place at the Paragon facility.

First Responders at Paragon: Continuing to Put Safety First

At Paragon, safety isn’t just a priority; it’s ingrained in our company culture. We understand that emergencies can happen at any moment, which is why we’ve assembled a team of first responders right here in our office.

These individuals are equipped with the knowledge, training, and resources necessary to handle any situation swiftly and effectively. Whether it’s a medical emergency, a fire alarm, or any other unexpected event, our first responders are ready to spring into action, ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone in our workspace.

Our commitment to safety extends beyond mere compliance with regulations; it’s a reflection of our values as a company. We believe that every member of our team deserves to feel secure and supported while on the job. The education for our first responders keeps their skills sharp and their readiness high.

By fostering a culture of preparedness and proactive safety measures, we not only protect our employees but also contribute to a positive and productive work environment where everyone can thrive.

All of our First Responders have the following training:

  • Adult CPR: with training on how to provide basic CPR to adult victims, as well as respond to victims who are choking.
  • Automated External Defibrillator (AED): with knowledge of how to use and maintain the AED in the facility, and how to use the AED in a variety of special situations.
  • BloodBorne Pathogens: includes training on universal precautions, the risk and types of infectious diseases contracted through exposure, and the proper safeguards to prevent exposure; training also includes the proper methods of handling potential contaminants.
  • First Aid: so that our responders have a solid understanding of the elements to providing first aid for any age victim. This also includes responder protection plus first aid treatment instructions, and procedures for bleeding, burns, broken bones, and a variety of other medical, injury, or environmental emergencies.

We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of the first responders on our team and who are prepared to help victim should the need arise. Their dedication and quick thinking are invaluable assets to our company, and we are immensely proud to have them as part of the Paragon family. Their unwavering commitment to the well-being of their colleagues exemplifies the spirit of teamwork and community that defines us. So here’s to our first responders – thank you for your selflessness, your vigilance, and your unwavering dedication to keeping us safe.

The Paragon First Responders include:
Matt Aquino
Mason Ballard
Jack Brown
Don Brumley
Joey Bryan
Debbie Conel
Daniel Cooksey
Joel Cruz
Jeremy Doss
David Flores
Alexander Groves
Clay Hall
Cole Howard
Ezra Israel
Leo Lara
Tim Lara
Jade Martinez
DJ McDonald
Matt McCullar
DeeDee Mowrer
Michael Norris
Matt Novotny
Dave Prior
Taylor Shead
Josh Ricci
Adam Torrance
Chip VanTassell
Dylan Wakser

Paragon Hosts Technical Courses in Licensing Digital and Nuclear Instrumentation Systems

Paragon has hosted two recent training events at its headquarters in Fort Worth looking at the latest developments in the use of software-based equipment in nuclear plant applications with a focus on advanced reactors. At the most recent session, Paragon welcomed participants from NRC, Sandia, Kairos, NIST, UMD, Baker Hughes, and INL.

Led by Edward (Ted) L. Quinn, Paragon’s Vice President of Licensing and Past President of the American Nuclear Society, the course recognizes that software-based equipment has become increasingly important as existing plants implement digital upgrades and new and advanced plants implement full digital safety and control throughout the design.

The course provides a perspective on the guidelines and requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Electric Power Research Institute as well as industry, consensus standards organizations, and plant-specific experience. In addition, a demonstration of the High Integrity Protection System (HIPS) and an overview of Nuclear Instrumentation System technology and applications were provided. 

Participants acquire the knowledge level necessary to understand the technical and regulatory fundamentals of digital system design, installation, licensing, and operations and the key differences between digital and analog equipment/systems in terms of their complexity, failure modes, assessment methods, and licensing issues and how they apply to nuclear power plant operation.

The course is divided into seven modules:

• MODULE 1 – Introduction and Overview

• MODULE 2 – Digital Applications and NRC Digital Licensing Framework

• MODULE 3 – Regulatory Overview

• MODULE 4 – Qualification

• MODULE 5 – Software Lifecycle Review

• MODULE 6 – Advanced Reactors, HFE, FPGA and HIPS Demonstration

• MODULE 7 – Nuclear Instrumentation Systems

Attendees from our 2023 session

Paragon brings in a slate of speakers who bring a wide variety of experiences and information to participants.  The most recent training session included:

Ted Quinn, with more than 45 years of experience in managing nuclear and fossil utility contracts and personnel in support of both project and supplemental assignments at various utilities in the U.S. He is past President of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) (1998-1999) and a member and past Chairman (convenor) of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) SC45A Working Group A9 on Nuclear Instrumentation Systems for over 25 years. He served on the I&C Subcommittee of the NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards from 1997-1999.

Tighe Smith, Paragon’s Chief Nuclear Officer, who has spent the last 20+ years working in various roles in the nuclear power industry. His broad experience includes nuclear business leadership, instrumentation and control (I&C) system development for commercial nuclear plants, research reactors and advanced reactors, and specialty nuclear sensor development. Tighe leads Paragon’s Digital I&C and Advanced Reactor Business Division and has responsibility for sales operations and marketing activities at Paragon. Tighe is a participating member of the American Nuclear Society’s Nuclear Policy Leadership team, briefing members of Congress monthly on issues of interest to the U.S. nuclear industry. He earned a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering and an MBA from the University of Tennessee. 

Jerry Mauck, Paragon’s Senior Technical Advisor, Licensing, with more than 40 years in engineering and licensing of I&C systems including having been the Branch Chief in USNRC for the I&C licensing of existing and new reactors, prior to retirement. Since retirement, he has supported Paragon and other organizations in many projects on new reactors I&C including South Texas, General Electric, Westinghouse, AREVA and TerraPower. He is a member of the NEI Digital Licensing Taskforce and has been the author of more that 7 full Defense-In-Depth and Diversity Assessments as well as multiple License Amendments and other key licensing documents included in regulatory submittals and approvals by NRC.

Rufino Ayala, Paragon’s Logic Design and Test Manager for the HIPS Division within Paragon. With over 15 years of experience in the nuclear industry, Rufino has had an opportunity to participate in old and new designs. He graduated from the University of Houston in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and soon after started his career with Bechtel at Watts Bar Unit 2 Construction Completion Project. During his time there, he worked on safety-related system refurbishments and supported design and installation of a new fixed incore instrumentation system. In 2012, Rufino joined Rock Creek Innovations to support NuScale Power in the design and licensing of many of their I&C systems. By understanding the needs of NuScale and the next generation of small modular reactors, he supported design, and licensing of the Highly Integrated Protection System (HIPS) Platform. As one of a few individuals assigned to its patent, Rufino has enjoyed the opportunities to participate in development of HIPS-based protection systems for SMRs and exploring possibilities in existing nuclear fleet.

Ryan Marcum, Paragon’s Marketing and IV&V Engineering Lead, who has worked within the digital I&C realm of the nuclear industry for most of his career. He began focusing on research and test reactors in 2016 and is now leveraging that experience to help license advanced demonstration reactors under the same Class 104 premises as well as support the Paragon HIPS Division for Advanced Reactor design, testing and licensing. He is a constant contributor the research reactor community and nuclear organizations including TRTR.

Clark Artaud supports Paragon’s SMR and Neutron Flux Monitoring Systems market development programs. With more than 40 years of experience in nuclear power, Clark started his career in the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power officer program where he obtained a masters-level education in Nuclear Engineering and served eight years in the US Navy, where he was certified as Engineering Officer by the Naval Reactors Office of the Department of Energy. He served as the Reactor Controls Assistant and was responsible for the Nuclear Instrumentation Systems.  Clark then started a 28-year career with Thermo Fisher Scientific / Gamma-Metrics where he served in positions ranging from Senior Sales Engineer to the Director of the Nuclear Business / Global Commercial Director, and coordinated all phases of technical solution sales for high-value capital expense Neutron Flux Monitoring Systems to nuclear power plants.

Paragon will hold its next Technical Courses in Licensing Digital and Nuclear Instrumentation Systems in February 2025.

Modernization, digitization, collaboration: keys to a bright future for the nuclear industry

This article appeared in Nuclear News Magazine in the fall of 2023.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I knew we were going to purchase a new car. As soon as we made that decision, major pricing inflation and supply constraints became an issue.  So we decided to wait.  We also knew that we would need new tires before we sold our current used vehicle. So instead of buying the best quality (and expensive!) tires, we decided to purchase the much cheaper ones knowing we would only use them for a brief period of time. Why invest in an asset that won’t be serving its purpose for you much longer, right?

I realized we tend to think the same way about the US nuclear fleet. The average age of these plants is 41 years, and we have been very successfully operating these facilities with legacy components using work packages from the same era. These dials, levers, and work practices of yesteryear have certainly proven how robust the design is from that time and the overall impressiveness of 1960s technology. This should not be overly surprising, as we did, after all, make it to the moon and back 50+ years ago on this same technology.

And while we are all proud of our performance – in particular the unmatched capacity factor, the safety record, and all those breaker-to-breaker runs – it is also somewhat embarrassing to discuss the age of our technology.  But just like that old car I intended to sell, the US fleet is an asset that we haven’t invested in for many years. There have been very good economic reasons to delay this investment, but we now know this fleet will be with us for the long haul – we can’t combat climate change without it!   

Fast forward to today. With the combination of recent technologies such as the introduction of SMRs, the new generation of reactors, and with the recent success of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant expansion project, which is touted as the first “newly constructed” nuclear power unit to be added to the US fleet in decades, nuclear energy has risen in visibility and public support. Even the reigning Miss America, Grace Stanke, is a nuclear engineering student with a platform of “Clean Energy, Cleaner Future” as she promotes nuclear power.  Times are changing as a recent Gallup poll placed support for nuclear energy at the highest level in a decade. 

The question was never whether the newer digital technology would make nuclear more affordable, easier to operate, and with less: it was about the investment.  Now with most of the operating fleet discussing license extensions to 80 years, we are at a time where not only is there a window of opportunity to advance technology, it has become an absolute necessity.   

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law in August 2022, provides (or, has the potential to provide) our industry with some of the funding investment to jump-start our industry on that road of innovation and technology advancement.  Unfortunately, government funding is something new to our industry, and some view the IRA as something not real or with a catch. It appears to many as a “too good to be true” type of deal of which we are all wary.

However, I hold firm that this is a truly unique window of opportunity. We must look to move beyond “how we have always done things”, and instead seek innovation to move us forward. I see two approaches for our industry: the digitalization of how we plan and execute work, as well as digital upgrades to our dated analog systems.


Moving toward the 80-year lifespan, the industry will need to capitalize and rely on the digital innovation and the benefits it provides. How we monitor equipment, prepare, and execute our outages, and how we seek, train, and keep the next generation of nuclear workers will all depend on this technology.  At the recent ANS Conference, it was said that we will need to more than double the workforce we currently have.  I am proud of my long tenure in this demanding industry, and I have seen how difficult it is to attract and more importantly retain employees. 

There is a recent example of how we can change almost instantly when the situation demands it. COVID-19 forced us all to become innovative almost overnight. The Pandemic significantly helped set the stage for the industry to move to its next phase of life, and during the dark days of that time, we proved that our staff and support can successfully work from remote locations.  What is especially interesting is that before the pandemic, most of us would have predicted that could never have been done, let alone attempt it. And while the Pandemic was an unfortunate period of time, it is proving to be an important and significant step toward dramatic improvement in our industry’s innovation. We now have a glimpse as to the digital future of nuclear and its ability to enable the next generation of nuclear professionals to remotely monitor equipment, and prepare for and execute outages.  

I believe that now, for the first time, we have the ability to digitalize almost every step of our work process, from training, procedures, and work instructions, to collaboration with other stations and even key suppliers.  In the past, when an issue occurred during a work order, maintenance had to stop, go back to the shop, and locate the correct person for support (all of which could take hours or even days).  Instead, we need to have the ability to alert all required personnel, including the OEM or supplier, when a nonconformance is identified so that all the key people and decision-makers are able to rectify the situation.    

Mike Pacilio, former Exelon Chief Operating Officer and one of my site VPs during my time at Braidwood, always liked to remind his team during a critical work task to use “the best athlete” to do the work.  During my career, I have incorporated much of the great advice that Mike shared with this team, but I remember and use this line the most.   Today, when I think about the challenge of building up those frankly staggering resource numbers, I believe we should focus more on finding the “best athlete” to help prepare for that critical or unique job task.

The next step is to develop and demonstrate a larger focus or reliance on expertise, not just from the utility base but from the vast OEM and supplier base.  Today more than ever, that “best athlete” works at another station or for a supplier. The advancement to greater digitalization can help assure that our work packages contain the most accurate instructions, to include all applicable industry experience, as well as lessons learned not only from the nuclear industry but applicable lessons from the outside world. Those same industry experts must support more on the front end.

Today, almost every aspect of work can (and must) be digitalized. Our focus as an industry needs to be on making our work “cool” to larger audiences, and improving the perception of nuclear careers to meet the levels of acceptance of advanced technology careers we hear about in other industries. The cutting-edge technology and potential for revolutionary advancement in nuclear I believe can help attract future talent, and most importantly help assure and even improve our safety and capacity factors that we all must continue to provide.   

Upgrading to Digital Systems and components

In the same way that the digitalization of our work will move us to this next phase, we also need to place a greater focus on the introduction of new equipment into our stations, specifically digital systems, and equipment. We must strategically move away from our outdated analog systems. They are a burden from a resource point of view, from the number of needed PMs to the surveillance required, to the issue of supporting a system or part that has long been obsolete.  The industry has shown us that more maintenance does not equal more reliability.

Attracting those “next generation” engineers and technicians isn’t helped by showing them 1960s analog systems.  My entire career, I have been trained and focused on providing “like-for-like” parts. However, the next generation of nuclear talent will not accept this outdated technology, especially given the fact we plan to operate existing plants for the next 80 years. Recently the NRC has been supportive by accepting and approving digital, but as we all know the current process of upgrading, including the associated license amendment requirements is a large burden and will be costly. 

I believe that success in this area should come through the implementation of smaller systems, as foundational building blocks where we can demonstrate project effectiveness; systems like, feedwater level controls, heater drain controls, turbine controls, etc.  For Safety-Related Systems, ICCMS, ECCS, AUX Feedwater, diesel sequencers, etc. should be considered as first steps.   Once a proven track record on how to successfully manage and implement these digital upgrade projects, larger systems can be upgraded to capitalize on the lessons learned so that they can also be successfully implemented as a station-wide standardization project for digital controls, as an integral part of an overall modernization strategy. Simply replacing the tires on our older car is not the long-term answer.       

Today, more than ever in my four decades in the industry, I believe the future of the nuclear power industry is exciting and promising. It also is scary, as the technology and resources that will move us to that next exciting phase are not yet firmly in place. However, success is defined by much more than just finding resources (or, as Mike Pacilio used to say, “belly buttons”) – our future success will be based on how we develop and implement this new technology.                                                                            

The time is now to move forward as an industry and tap into the opportunities at hand. Let’s work together to make great things happen.

Paragon Establishes Women In Nuclear Chapter

Paragon hosted its first U.S. Women in Nuclear (WIN) chapter meeting in May of 2023. There were more than 30 participants, representing many states.

This chapter is led by Heather Born (President) and Tonya Trombley (Treasurer).

U.S. Women in Nuclear (U.S. WIN) is an organization of individuals who work in nuclear energy and technology fields around the United States. The vision of WIN is aimed at positioning the United States for the future of nuclear energy and technology through the advancement of women.

U.S. WIN’s objectives are to:
– Drive a culture in nuclear energy and technology in which individuals succeed
– Create professional development and networking opportunities for career advancement
– Enhance understanding and awareness of the value of nuclear energy and technology

U.S. WIN is an affiliate of Women in Nuclear Global organization (WiN Global). The WiN-Global organization is made of up thousands of members in more than 100 countries.

The Paragon chapter is working on some concepts on how to network and give back to the communities where Paragonians live, and the company is very excited about the future of this organization.

In July of 2023, Paragon sent several representatives to the U.S. Women in Nuclear Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Paragon’s James Cody Shipman, Amira Hyder, Katie Dannible, and Huong-Nga Tran were in attendance.

Heather Born established the Paragon WIN Chapter and saw a need to help promote women in the nuclear industry. The Paragon WIN Chapter meets monthly in Fort Worth (TX), with the option for remote employees to attend virtually.

Paragon Energy Solutions Celebrates Milestone Anniversary

Paragon Energy Solutions has officially celebrated its fifth anniversary. The company, however, dates back many more years to the early 1990s with several legacy companies including ATC Nuclear, Nuclear Logistics Inc., Technology Resources, and Rock Creek Innovations.

Doug VanTassell, President & CEO of Paragon, shared the importance of the milestone. He explained, “While we celebrate the fifth anniversary of Paragon, in truth the company dates back several decades. We have a rich history of outstanding brand names and industry professionals that have all been pioneers in the nuclear industry. Paragon’s innovative products and services allow the operating fleet to run reliably and efficiently and the next generation of reactors to become reality.”

In celebration of this milestone, Paragon and its employees recently raised money to support Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. This organization works to ensure that every child of a fallen patriot receives all necessary college funding via college scholarships and educational counseling for military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty across all branches of the armed forces.

Paragon featured in Nuclear Engineering International: Nuclear Moneyball – The Art of Winning

Paragon is featured in Nuclear Engineering International magazine: Nuclear Moneyball – The Art of Winning. In the high-risk era of plant modernizations and closures, can playing the odds help modest-budgeted plants thrive?

IF YOU’RE A FAN OF baseball or even sports analytics, you have likely heard of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book by Michael Lewis – published in 2003 and made into a movie in 2011 – is about a resource-constrained baseball team and its savvy general manager. Its focus is the team’s analytical, evidence-based approach to assembling a competitive baseball team despite a seemingly
unsurmountable budget disadvantage. We will explore a key, parallel idea relevant to securing the future of nuclear instrumentation and control (I&C) systems.

Unfortunately, in the two decades since the book’s publication, the nuclear industry has been frustratedly
anticipating the next true renaissance. Though, as full-plant modernisations are underway, the long- heralded new era looks to be “just around the corner.” What can we learn from the triumph of a modest baseball team that might just help us get over our own systematic hump? Hint: it’s an unlikely link between on-base percentage and your plant’s bridging strategy.

The 2020s are an exciting time to be supporting nuclear. Along with the first subsequent license renewal (SLR) approvals (and subsequent de-approvals #NoTakeBacks) from the NRC, the DOE is heavily invested in advanced reactor technology. Many SMR start-ups are starting to show real promise to bring Gen IV reactors online within the next decade. While a handful of current-fleet and advanced reactors are bravely leading the US digital revolution, most of the remaining industry must figure out a way to move
their more risk-averse cultures onboard with their future at stake.

Surprisingly, some digital safety-related systems selected for present-day modernisation are considered obsolete from the OEM perspective.

Modernisation evokes excitement and hope but often carries an intimidating connotation because of legacy challenges with digital upgrades. Are we dutifully pausing to ask whether it is necessary or even worth the additional resources and regulatory risk for all plants to pursue the same steep, uphill path? What can plants without the appetite or resources for such an undertaking expect? A full-scale digital upgrade of safety-related systems plus a control room overhaul might be too daunting for non-fleet reactors or single-unit plants to justify. Yet the pressure of obsolescence – concerns from analog component sourcing scarcity to unsupported vendor platforms – is undeniable.

In a presentation on digital transformation, one subject matter expert and executive at a large US-based nuclear fleet, presented their thoughts on the factors contributing to the industry’s current technological bottleneck as an Industry-wide problem:

  • Original construction systems are reaching the end of their practical service life and performance issues are becoming more common
  • Modernization of safety systems has stalled over time, resulting in obsolete technology and equipment that is costly to maintain
  • The industry is facing economic challenges and must find innovative ways to reduce labor and material costs while increasing safety and reliability

The slow adoption of digital technologies in the nuclear industry has led to a lack of innovative solutions in the digital I&C space, especially within safety-related I&C applications. With a dearth of opportunities for upgrades, many suppliers forwent improved designs and kept legacy digital platforms as the primary digital I&C architectures for use in nuclear power plants, long after these technologies have been retired in other industries.

One nuclear industry solutions provider offers a FPGA-based controls platform based on contemporary design. By taking advantage of opportunities at SMR start-up companies, Paragon’s Rock Creek Innovations’ HIPS platform brings much needed innovation to the industry. Designed by Rock Creek, with support from NuScale, the HIPS platform has revolutionised safety-related I&C by addressing nuclear-centric issues with a de-risked, hardware-based solution.

The right controls platform represents a small fraction of the life-extension effort. We understand the pressure is on to full-scale modernise (and this article is not adding to that push), but that does not mean all plants must fall-in-line for the same cookie-cutter strategy. From our perspective, there are as many viable solutions for the next twenty years as there are operating sites aiming to make it that long. The customer’s appetite for risk, market regulation, and most importantly individual culture must be thoughtfully considered when plotting the future. EPRI’s Design Engineering Guide, EPRI 3002011816 DEG 122018, describes four strategic options for approaching an I&C upgrade:

  • Aggressive: plant-wide replacement of I&C architecture with concepts similar to an ALWR, introduction of an advanced control room, and significant changes to plant operations and maintenance practices
  • Resource-constrained: a more limited and incremental approach, foregoing dramatic productivity benefits and instead focusing on managing obsolescence and plant availability risks
  • Tactical upgrades: system-by-system tactical upgrades only when obsolescence or plant availability risks become unacceptably high
  • Maintain or replace legacy components: a run-to-failure approach by providing spare parts for existing analog equipment over extended periods, combined with like-for-like component replacements (using either analog or digital components) when necessary

Regardless of where your I&C group identifies on the risk spectrum, Paragon crafts best-fit strategies for a holistic I&C lifecycle approach. In Moneyball, the team’s manager boldly focuses on on-base percentage statistics of the players rather than the conventional “wisdom” of the industry. You, too, can be the analytical, savvy employee who delivers your team (read: plant) from the brink of obsolescence by focusing on the right metrics for your individual circumstance. We call this a bridging strategy.

A bridging strategy is a sensible approach to match your long-term plan with available resources. Outside of complete digital upgrades, bridging strategies are not only fiscally responsible but can be a shrewdly weighted choice for the risk averse. Initial considerations from Paragon’s integrated-approach services include:

  • Bolstering spares through industry-wide smart component sourcing
  • Technical analysis of key components and reverse engineering thereof
  • The HIPS FPGA-based platform to reduce the regulatory risk of modernization projects involving digital safety related systems (compared to non-deterministic microprocessor-based systems)
  • A channel-by-channel HIPS approach to upgrading I&C systems, incrementally funding installation(s) as money becomes available to the project

We encourage our customers to consider the full spectrum of upgrade strategies then contact the I&C vendor aligned with your site’s values and culture to begin planning for your plant’s upcoming life extension.

Regardless of the futuristic atmosphere of your plant, while you are keeping critical systems operating safely and efficiently for the long-term, know that the right vendor has your back and understands our industry’s dire need to keep every plant online if we are to reach our clean energy goals.

John Portillo Featured in Nuclear News

Nuclear News Asks: What is the most difficult part to replace?

The nuclear industry should give itself a pat on the back: a quick review of plant capacity factors and plant trip trends demonstrates that, for the most part, the industry is very resourceful when it comes to locating even the most difficult-to-find replacement parts. That said, some parts are harder to replace than others. It’s important to note, however, that the challenge of replacing parts is not generally due to the part itself, but is instead the result of inadequate planning at the plant.

In our experience, the level of difficulty varies from situation to situation and is highly dependent on the timeline required to have the component back in service. The easiest part to replace is the one plant management knows will need to be replaced well in advance. Forward-looking, plant-managed programs such as a critical spares program, an active obsolescence program, or a repair/refurbishment maintenance program can all help mitigate part replacement challenges. Paragon has partnered with several utilities to develop data-informed programs to identify critical spares, obsolescence issues, I&C circuit card repairability, parts quality issues, and reverse engineering opportunities. If a plant does not have a well-defined and effective parts management process, then every needed part can become an emergent issue and likely becomes more difficult to replace.

Of course, no plant can plan perfectly nor have every potential part in stock. Luckily, the nuclear industry has pooled resources so plants can buy parts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A buyer can easily search a parts database, such as PeAks or RAPID, to determine if other plants or suppliers have the needed part in inventory. If the item is available, most of the time the plant can take delivery of the part the next day.

However, some of the most difficult-to-replace parts are typically associated with unique metal castings, custom transformers, or large custom motors. Parts in these categories create significant problems with long-lead-time solutions. Often, a utility has no option but to wait for the part to be manufactured.

While there are many options available to the nuclear industry for parts supply, it is incumbent on utilities to both build a relationship with a trusted supplier and – very importantly – form a strategy for long-term operation. In the end, the most difficult part to replace is the one that is not planned.

See the full article here.

Interview with John Portillo, Senior Director Nuclear Sales Operations 
Paragon Energy Solutions

Paragon’s Van Tassell and Smith Interview Featured in Nuclear News

Paragon’s CEO, Doug Van Tassell, and COO/VP of Business Development, Tighe Smith are featured in an interview in the June, 2020 issue of Nuclear News.

In February of this year, Paragon acquired Nuclear Logistics LLC to form a third-party supplier of equipment solely focused on the nuclear industry. Engineering, design, manufacturing, testing, and qualification are performed in Paragon’s three facilities, located in Fort Worth, Texas, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Schenectady, N.Y.

Paragon provides critical and safety-related equipment, including electrical, mechanical, instrumentation and control (I&C), HVAC, and specialty one-of-a-kind items; equipment maintenance; equipment qualification; and engineering services that include thermal aging, radiation testing, electromagnetic interference/radio-frequency interference testing, loss-of-coolant-accident testing, seismic testing, and software verification and validation.

Doug VanTassell is Paragon’s president and chief executive officer and has more than 31 years of experience in the power generation industry. He received his master of business administration (MBA) degree from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C. Prior to joining Paragon, VanTassell spent 25 years at AP Services, becoming owner and CEO in 2009. In 2012, Curtiss-Wright purchased AP Services, and VanTassell became the general manager for Nova and AP Services. In 2014, he joined ATC as president of its Nuclear Division. On August 30, 2017, VanTassell and Argosy Capital purchased ATC Nuclear and renamed it Paragon.

Tighe Smith is chief operating officer at Paragon. Smith has spent the past 17 years working in various roles in the commercial nuclear power industry. His experience includes nuclear business management, product development, and safety-related system sales and service. He has a bachelor of science degree in nuclear engineering and is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s MBA program. Smith served in the United States Army National Guard from 2001 to 2007.

VanTassell and Smith talked about supply chain issues with Nuclear News Editor-in-Chief Rick Michal and shared thoughts on having spare parts available quickly, efficiently, and at good value.
Click here to read the interview.