Transoft Completes Migration Of Key Nuclear Fuels Production Control System

Transoft Legacy Liberator reduces business risk of end-of-life OpenVMS VAX platform

 - By Mark McFadden -

Transoft, a leader in helping companies evolve their existing legacy applications, has completed a complex application migration project for Springfields Fuels Ltd (formerly British Nuclear Fuels Ltd). Transoft migrated Springfields Fuels’ critical Control Systems Application Software for its Oxide Fuels Complex from an ageing HP (DEC) OpenVMS VAX platform to an open and more flexible Windows Server environment. Transoft used its Legacy Liberator toolset for OpenVMS to automate the majority of the migration process and hence shorten delivery times, minimize costs and ensure the quality of the migration.

Martin Heaton, Control Systems Development Manager of Springfields Fuels, commented, “Springfields Fuels has provided products and services to over 140 reactors in more than 12 countries, and the Control Systems Application Software controls the manufacture of fuel elements for nuclear stations in the UK. The plant takes Uranium Hexafluoride supplied in cylinders and converts this to Uranium Oxide powder. The powder is 'slugged' and turned into pellets and these are built into stacks and loaded into fuel pins. The pins are loaded into a graphite sleeve to create a fuel element. This is boxed up and sent to the power stations. All data from the plant is fed into a shared proprietary OpenVMS-based Rdb database. The applications ran under OpenVMS on HP (DEC) VAX server hardware and were written in Pascal and C using the Rdb database and DCL scripting language.”

Heaton continued, “The plant is currently being modernized and the replacement of the VAX hardware is part of this refurbishment. With there being no possible package replacement for the applications, migration offered the quickest, cheapest and minimum risk option.”

Transoft competed in an open EU procurement process to win this prestigious contract. It has migrated these applications using its Legacy Liberator toolset to an HP Proliant Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition environment. The Pascal code was converted to C and, together with the applications' C code, was transferred to operate on the target platform with Oracle 10g replacing the proprietary Rdb database. Transoft Open Libr8 and Open DCL products have also been deployed to support the replacement of the OpenVMS systems services and DCL scripts respectively.

Additionally, with the system in a single programming language, Springfields Fuels is able to maintain it within the more productive Microsoft Visual Studio development environment. Springfields Fuels will reduce their operating costs and obtain greater reliability for the future.

Heaton continued, “We chose Transoft for this complex and demanding migration as it had both the technical expertise to convert our OpenVMS applications to Windows and a well established migration methodology.”

Paul Bradbrook, Managing Director of Transoft, commented, “We were delighted to have been chosen for this high profile project and it further consolidates Transoft’s position as the premier OpenVMS migration company. More and more companies with mature mission critical applications on older platforms view migration as the most cost effective and least risk replacement option.”

Heaton concludes, “Through the successful migration and progressive roll-out of the migration application, Transoft has demonstrated to Springfields Fuels that it has the methodology, software tools and skills to deliver complex projects on time, to budget and to a high level of quality.”

Transoft, part of IRIS, is a leading provider of innovative and pioneering modernization solutions, with hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide using our products and services.

Our aim is to enable our customers to increase business value and maintain competitive advantage by maximizing the potential of existing applications. This provides rapid return on investment, reduced costs, improved productivity and efficiency, and the ability to manage operational risk.

With over 20 years’ experience, and expert staff dedicated to servicing the needs of organizations with legacy systems, we pride ourselves on a tailored approach to customer service. Major organizations such as The Gap, L’Oreal, Boeing and Balfour Beatty have enjoyed the business benefits of a Transoft application modernization strategy. We work with a large network of VARs, System Integrators, ISVs and technical partners to offer unparalleled solutions.

As an organization, the IRIS values are customer focus, honesty & integrity, innovation, passion and service excellence.

Springfields, near Preston, Lancashire, is the site of the UK’s main nuclear fuel manufacturing operations. The site was established in 1946 under Britain's atomic energy project, and has been manufacturing nuclear fuel ever since. Springfields was the first plant in the world to make nuclear fuel for commercial power stations and has the technology to manufacture fuel for all major designs of nuclear reactors worldwide. Most of the fuel requirements for the UK's nuclear power stations are met by Springfields and around 15% of all the electricity generated in the UK comes from power stations using nuclear fuel manufactured at Springfields.

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  • Anonymous

    “migration offered the quickest, cheapest and minimum risk option.”

    This isn’t an accurate statement.  The cheapest and least risk option would have been to replace the VAX hardware with a Windows Server running the proven Charon VAX emulator.  This would allow the existing time proven application to continue to run with NO changes what so ever. You can’t get much lower risk than “no changes”.   The existing application, OpenVMS and Rdb would continue to operate just as they always have.  (full disclosure – our firm is a Charon VAX reseller in North America)

    OpenVMS and Oracle Rdb both continue to be actively maintained and developed (Oracle just today released a new version of Rdb).

    Another somewhat misleading statement is this:  “Oracle 10g replacing the proprietary Rdb database.” – Oracle 10g is just as proprietary as Rdb is.  With respect to proprietary, Oracle 10g offers no advantage over Rdb.

    Brad McCusker

    Software Concepts International, LLC

    402 Amherst Street, Suite 300

    Nashua, NH 03063