The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) uses, handles and stores a wide range of radioactive materials as part of its role in restoring the environment of nuclear sites.
For this reason, its Nuclear Materials Accountancy (NMA) has to be of a very high standard. As far back as 1996, however, legacy systems for the tracking and reporting of nuclear items at UK sites such as Harwell, Windscale and Dounreay were clearly becoming obsolete. Issues of cross-compatibility and intercommunication were becoming apparent. Users or support staff were often experts of their own systems, but couldn’t understand or maintain others in the UK industry, so ‘comparing notes’ was proving unnecessarily difficult.
UKAEA approached Fujitsu at this time with no major plan, just a problem that needed solving. This is where the partnership that would come up with ATOM (Accountancy and Tracking Of Material) began. From the outset it was obvious - it wasn’t going to be a simple case of making modifications to existing warehouse-management software.
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