A team of South Tyneside-based engineering experts are carving out a global reputation for developing tailor-made solutions for the marine and subsea industry.

DME Systems is a team of seven specialists working across the globe to help deliver multi-million pound projects in the UK, USA, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

The business, created 17 months ago, offers a solutions-based engineering service working closely with some of the largest, and smallest, companies in the world designing machinery to overcome specific challenges, often in extreme environments.

Created by experienced engineers, Darren Coombe and Michael van Zwanenberg, the business is expanding into new office space at Jarrow Business Centre, providing it with increased office and meeting space, as well as a larger workshop.

The move is the culmination of a profitable 18 months that’s seen DME exceed its growth target whilst attracting new recruits and engaging with local schools and colleges to develop roles for apprentices and graduates that will enable the firm to grow and nurture the next generation of technical engineers.

Darren said: “We are experienced engineers with a combined 80-plus years’ experience; when we created the business we recognised the requirement for bespoke solutions in the marine sector, however we didn’t expect the level of interest and how quickly we’ve grown which has been fantastic.

“The world never sleeps, so we might be on a call to Greece until late at night or the phone will be buzzing in the early hours with messages from Middle East – it’s not a 9-5 job, but the projects are fantastic and we’re really enjoying the experience.”

DME Systems has earned a reputation for skill and ingenuity, designing leading-edge subsea and marine equipment. However, it also has other industries in its sights, with a pipeline of work onshore in steelworks and aspirations to move into the defence sector. Currently though, it is the ongoing growth in offshore renewables, mining and telecoms that are demanding the company’s attention.

“We have created equipment with control systems and complex electronics operating at depths of 6km below the surface – that’s 600x the pressure we feel on the surface,” added Darren. “We are designing engineering machines to bury offshore power cables which are vital for offshore wind, ROV skids to measure the seabed geology and the next generation all electric subsea winches. Subsea engineering is a specialised and vitally important field and an incredibly rewarding environment for engineers to work with a high level of innovation and fast paced projects.”

DME Systems directly employs seven people and operates with a number of partners to provide the specialist skills and expertise required to deliver complex projects.

The leadership team is made up Darren, who has worked in the steelworks on Teesside and subsea firms on Tyneside; Michael van Zwanenberg, with almost 20 years’ experience working on offshore equipment above and below the waves; Richard Purdy an industry expert in subsea cable burial and instrumental in development of some of the largest subsea trenchers globally; and Stephen Dixon who’s key in designing the high power electrical systems and operator control stations essential for the machines to operate reliably.

Co-founder, Michael van Zwanenberg, said: “South Tyneside Council has been brilliant for us – we’ve had amazing support from the team as we’ve grown.

“We started out working from home and then took some office space at Quadrus. As we grew we needed more room and an active workshop space – the business support team, especially Gren, couldn’t have been more supportive. Helping us find a home at Jarrow Business Centre then securing the space for us to grow and also develop ideas in the workshop. There are many complexities in starting and building a business, with South Tyneside’s support securing offices and workshops has been simple and effective allowing us to scale the business appropriately and in the process increase our staff base.”

The company already boasts an extensive product range, with topside control and drive systems and a variety of subsea machinery, including pressure-tolerant electronics that operate to a depth of 6,000m below the surface.

“We’re all natural born engineers.” added Darren “Doing what you’re passionate about means we come to work full of energy and enthusiasm”

“We’re excited about the future. DME Systems continues to grow and will be looking to recruit new people in the coming months, which means more jobs for local people in South Tyneside and beyond. As part of our commitment to buying local we have established a network of local suppliers and look to continue to grow these partnerships. It’s right that we support local businesses as the region develops new skills and areas of excellence”