Providing a safe and secure gas service to our customers is our over-riding priority. We have some exciting projects on the go to help us to continue to do just that.
- No longer stumped by stubs
Gas distributors are tasked with decommissioning all small diameter gas pipes close to buildings, for safety reasons, by 2032.
Previous techniques for capping off these pipes left a short ‘stub’ of live pipe, where the small pipe abutted a larger diameter main.
This presented the dilemma of potentially having to dig up these stubs, at great expense and public inconvenience.
Together with our specialist supplier, we’ve refined the legacy technique, to cap off a pipe without leaving a stub.
After an extensive development and trial phase, the improved process is now being used extensively across our region.
Savings of more than £500,000 have already been achieved, and we have shared data with other gas distributors, so they can replicate the technique if they so choose.
- Replacing service pipes
Service pipes connect individual properties to the gas mains in the street.
Old metal service pipes need replacing with modern PE versions. For the past three years, we have been behind our annual replacement target.
Factors behind this underperformance include fewer service pipe replacements than forecast following emergency work to tackle leaks.
To make up ground, we have identified a series of ‘bulk’ projects which will target areas where service pipes are in poor condition, and will identity mains replacement schemes that present an opportunity to replace service pipes too.
- Using CCTV cameras to improve site quality
We’ve been trialling the use of fixed and body mounted cameras to help us monitor our work sites more effectively.
CCTV cameras, fixed on tall masts, have been used to keep tabs on jobs in built up, traffic sensitive areas. Footage is reviewed in real time back at base.
The move means managers don’t need to travel to inspect sites – reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions. The high vantage point of the cameras also allows a whole site view, making it easier to spot potential issues.
Body mounted cameras, meanwhile, have been used ahead of work starting. Colleagues are able to walk a site, with the footage reviewed back at base – allowing potential issues to be spotted in plenty of time.
Results of the trial are now being analysed, and a business case prepared. Watch this space.
- Addressing theft of gas
Theft of gas increases costs for customers and has potentially serious safety implications. Taking the learning from an industry-wide piece of work, we have established a new approach to tackle this issue.
A full time Supply Point Compliance Officer manages the end to end journey for theft of gas and unregistered sites. We proactively identify sites, which are investigated during the summer months when our engineers have more flexibility in their workload.
This approach has seen an increase in recoverable income from £25,500 in 2014 to over £100,000 since January 2015, all of which goes directly back to the customer.
- Strengthening pipe bridges
One of the most iconic images of the floods which hit our region at the start of 2016 was the collapse of Tadcaster’s town centre bridge.
As well as connecting local communities, the bridge supports one of our gas mains, requiring our engineers to carry out contingency work to keep customers on supply.
Since the floods, we’ve developed an £11 million programme to assess all our pipe bridges over rivers and strengthen them where required.
This wasn’t part of our original business plan, but as flooding becomes more frequent, it’s clearly the right thing to do, and will help safeguard our network, and customers’ supplies, in the face of future severe weather.