North East technology specialist Advantex is tapping into new markets after landing a major contract to provide superfast connectivity to support a new community heating system, owned and operated by Gateshead Council’s energy business, Gateshead Energy Company.

The work sees the Follingsby Park-based firm providing new fibre optic cable, control cabinets and network infrastructure services to PPSL District Heating, which is the principal contractor on the east extension element of the works. The contract covers the installation of the next phase of a system along a 4 km stretch of the Felling bypass, designed to provide cleaner heating to local businesses and hundreds of new homes in Gateshead over the next few years.

Advantex’s undisclosed five-figure contract is part of an investment programme to provide a fast, secure and reliable connection between the water pump, local energy centre and each building connected to a new network that controls and monitors the whole system.

Currently employing 50 people and targeting a £6 million turnover this year, PPSL is the latest contract success for Advantex, which is seeing strong growth on the back of new product introductions, investment in a highly skilled workforce and a strong pipeline of orders on the books for 2022.

Ben Fitzsimmons, project manager at Advantex, which is also working alongside PPSL for the other phase of the contract were Balfour Beatty are the main contractor, said: “This is another important project for us, showcasing our expertise in connectivity and fibre optic cabling for challenging infrastructure projects. We continue to see demand from customers who are migrating to the latest digital technologies to secure fast, secure and cost-effective connectivity services.”

PPSL designs, supplies and installs pre-insulated pipes for district heating, cooling and steam networks, undertaking all types of projects from small scale repairs through to large network installations, including design, supply, installation, civils, additional utilities, testing and commissioning.

Ben Leach, operations director at PPSL, said: “Advantex impressed with their positive response, excellent service and understanding of delivering connectivity for challenging infrastructure projects. They were sensitive to the challenges of working around people and traffic on such a busy and fast paced project, delivering a high quality and cost-effective solution to meet our current and future needs, pleasure to work with everyone on the Advantex team”

District heating schemes essentially use large boilers or energy centres with various heat sources in strategic locations to provide heat and/or power to large properties and estates, through to whole towns, cities, hospitals, universities and business parks.

Hot water circulates to customers via a network of pre-insulated pipes installed either below or above ground as required. Because some of these systems harness waste heat, such as the Gateshead one, which will utilise heat from abandoned water mines as part of the heat source, they are highly efficient, generating lower heating costs and reduced Co2 emissions compared to conventional heating systems.