The process of keeping knowledge in its original state
The main purpose of all KP efforts is to develop a KP mechanism in which knowledge is being preserved as it is created. In this way all types of knowledge — including explicit, implicit and tacit — will be captured. In order to achieve this, different methods and tools must be employed. Within the KM context, it is obvious that nuclear KP plays a vital role. Preserving existing nuclear knowledge, specialist expertise, and in general preventing the loss of vital technical and historical information is starting to be recognized as strategically important to the nuclear industry, in particular for nuclear facilities. As such, the development of KP approaches and tools based on innovative approaches, including the use of modern information technology, are becoming a necessity.
Organizations that do not pay attention to KP may face negative consequences (such as suffering losses or even worse, bankruptcy) if critical knowledge required by an organization is not preserved. In the case of the nuclear industry, if critical knowledge associated with regulation, construction, design, maintenance, operation and decommissioning is not preserved it can lead to incidents, accidents and other significant events. An example is the Okiluto-3 EPR NPP currently being constructed in Finland. The project experienced construction and welding problems because critical knowledge associated with methods and quality assurance had been lost among local contractors in Finland. This resulted in delays in construction.
One of the questions being raised concerning the 'nuclear renaissance' is the availability of critical knowledge required to forge large pressure vessels and steam generators. Recent surveys of suppliers indicate this capability has been lost in many countries because there was a long period of time in which no new reactors were built. It is believed that organizations which pay attention to KP and make it a part of their objectives tend to keep a competitive edge. This is likely the reason that more mature organizations are now concerned about the preservation of institutional memory. An underlying benefit of KP is that it helps to improve work processes and therefore aids in transforming a regular organization into a ‘learning organization’.
Depending on an organization’s level of KM maturity (i.e. the phase of development in KM processes), it may need to embark on KP as a means of preserving critical knowledge to secure its future.