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Gas mains work for local firms.

THE north of England's gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has hit an historic milestone as 100% of its gas replacement works are now delivered by local engineering firms, known as construction services colleagues, with the model generating around PS70 million per year for the local economy.

NGN began working directly with small, local engineering firms in 2011 to deliver the bulk of its mains replacement work rather than relying on big, national contractors, which is the gas industry's usual approach.

The scheme, which sees around 600 people employed as construction services colleagues across the network has not only changed the way NGN carries out its essential gas main replacement works, but it has also made a considerable impact on the firms working with them.

One of the engineering firms that NGN works with is DW Utilities which covers areas across West Yorkshire, including Huddersfield.

Managing director of the firm, Dave Williams, said: "Although we have over four years' experience of working with NGN, we have only been working directly with them since last March. During this time we have noticed a big change in our business and it has really started to flourish.

"Our operations are now much more streamlined and NGN offers a lot of help and support in all aspects of a replacement project. We know that we'll have sight of the whole plan and our ideas are respected and taken on board.

"Thanks to the relationship we have with NGN we have been able to invest in new equipment so we are now completely self-sufficient and we have plans to expand the business."

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is investing PS90 million annually to replace around 530km of ageing metal gas mains across the north of England with new durable plastic pipes every year until 2021. Working directly with local engineering firms allows NGN to deliver a cost-effective mains replacement programme where customer satisfaction is just as important as the number of meters of pipe put in the ground.

Dean Shepherdson, head of construction services at NGN, said: "Local firms, such as DW Utilities, have a great understanding of the areas that they're working in and they know our stakeholders really well. They work to our own high standards and are effectively an extension of NGN. The model has resulted in us being able to improve efficiencies by 10% whilst dramatically improving customer service and site safety.

"DW Utilities is a fantastic example of a small firm being able to grow, upskill its workforce and stimulate the local economy with employment opportunities through our relationship with them."

NGN delivers gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses across the north and provides the rapid response service for customers who smell gas at home or work.

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| Dave Williams, of DW Utility Services construction service colleagues, working with Northern Gas Networks

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 18, 2016
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