North of England gas distributor Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has hit an historic milestone with a little help from its friends.
The firm has announced all its gas replacement works are now delivered by local companies, known as Construction Services Colleagues, pumping around £70million a year into the regional 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.
Sunderland-based MA Utilities is one of the engineering firms to benefit: “We work really closely with NGN and manage everything that is involved in the gas mains replacement work from planning, to construction to closing up and clearing the site when the job is complete.
“Since we started working with NGN in 2011, our workforce has doubled and we have benefitted from a great deal of support and training opportunities. Having such a positive relationship is definitely a two way street.
“The work with NGN has given us job security and helped us to grow which drives us to do the best job possible for them.”
NGN is investing £90million a year until 2021 to replace around 530km of metal gas mains with new durable plastic pipes.
NGN head of construction services Dean Shepherdson said: “Local firms have a great understanding of the areas they’re working in and know our stakeholders really well.
“The model has resulted in efficiencies improving by 10% while dramatically improving customer service and site safety.
“MA 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.”