Innovative collaboration to help keep the power flowing

A North Yorkshire engineering business has joined forces with Northern Gas Networks to develop a process to minimise disruption for householders while gas pipes are replaced.

The new process, dubbed Project Zero, allows engineers to work on ‘live’ pipes in the street with the gas still flowing.

It means they do not always need to enter customers’ homes and also means the gas supply to properties located nearby is less likely to be interrupted.

An encapsulation device, made of reinforced plastic, is fitted around pipework, forming a pressurised seal. This allows engineers to replace pipes in the street under live conditions.

The new process has been developed with Harrogate-based Synthotech. The company supplies products and services to utility and infrastructure markets around the world.

Richard Hynes-Cooper, head of innovation at Northern Gas Networks, said: “Replacing gas pipes often means we have to enter customers’ homes, to switch off their supply, so we can work safely.

“This is inconvenient for customers, as it is a significant disruption to their day.

“Our hope is that the Project Zero technology will mean our engineers can work efficiently outside in the street, greatly reducing the occasions when they need access to people’s properties.”

Simon Langdale, engineering manager for Synthotech, said: “It has been great to collaborate with NGN to produce this pioneering new encapsulation system.

“It will make altering pipework while keeping a constant supply to the property both easy and efficient.

“It will also reduce contact and help to protect vulnerable customers. We look forward to developing it further with NGN and are excited for when this becomes a ‘business as usual’ process.”