Sarco Stopper

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Sarco Stopper's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Sarco Stopper is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Bill Menzies, managing director
Sarco 2018 UK launch at NEC of novel Gas
Stent technology developed with SGN
Sarco Stopper is an SME based in Broxburn, Scotland, that
design and manufacture flow stopping and bypass systems
for distribution mains in gas, water, oil and other pipeline
applications. Founded in 1877, the company underwent
a management buy-out in 2007 and they have expanded
dramatically since. Managing director Bill Menzies explains that
Sarco Stopper now target continued product innovation as the
key to their long-term progress and success.
Following the management buy-out in 2007, we made a commitment to significant
annual investment in technical and design activities, which was not previously a
focal point for the business. Our objective was to deliver growth and diversification
of product applications and increased market opportunities in the water
distribution sector, where leakage control and maintaining customer supply are
now key objectives in the UK and other international markets.
We moved to a larger, modern factory in 2012 – which included new production
and testing equipment – and we now employ a team of 22 people. Our increased
profitability has been reinvested into the business and has enabled further product
innovation. The company profile and our reputation for innovative engineering
solutions has been enhanced as a result, and this has allowed us to increase export
sales to 38 per cent of total sales. We aim to maintain this sustainable trajectory
through further strategic investment in technology and talent.
Findings from the National Infrastructure Commission report
The report suggests that taps will run dry without urgent and significant
infrastructure improvements. Homes and businesses could face having their water
»Managing director:
Bill Menzies
»Established in 1877
»Based in Broxburn, Scotland
»Services: Design and
manufacture of flow stopping
and bypass systems for
distribution mains in gas,
water, oil and other pipeline
»No. of employees: 22
»Turnover: £2.2 million
»Nominated in 2015 for regional
“Best Business” and High
Growth awards and finalist in
Edinburgh Chamber Awards
for Export Achievements
Sarco Stopper
Highlighting best practice
supplies cut off in times of severe
drought if the water industry does
not improve infrastructure and water
efficiency. A fifth of the country’s
supply is lost each day to water
leakages and 20 per cent of all mains
water is lost to leaks.
The amount of water the average
family consumes each day has fallen
by just under ten litres per person a
day. Commission chairman Sir John
Armitt stated in the report that a twin
approach of improving infrastructure
to reduce leakage and encouraging
households and businesses to
reduce their demand needs to be
implemented to ensure the network is
fit to meet future pressures of climate
change and increasing population.
The report also calls on ministers to
set the water industry a clear target
to halve the amount of water lost
through leaks by 2050. The Ofwat
regulatory requirements and targets
for water companies to meet now
carry heavy financial penalties for non-
performance and rewards for success,
which should serve as a suitable
deterrent to serial wastage.
We are at the forefront of innovative
designs that allow traditional gas
distribution under pressure flow
stopping and bypass technology to
be utilised in the water sector, by
delivering Aquastop, Hydrant Wizard
and Arctic Driver solutions. The use
of inflatable stoppers for under
pressure repair and improvements to
gas distribution mains in the UK and
other countries has been established
since the early 1970s, and we are a
market leader in the manufacture
of the Resistra® gas stoppers. We
are the only company to ever hold a
BSI Kitemark product quality licence,
complying to the relevant UK gas
industry standard GISE4 2013.
Aquastop line stopping and bypass
system and Hydrant Wizard utilise
pressure from the water main to
inflate the stoppers and avoid knock-
on bursts caused by depressurising
and repressurising the main, while
also maintaining customer supply
throughout the operation. The Arctic
Driver freezes the ferrule supply
connection to domestic properties and
permits replacement of the service with
minimal loss of supply to the property
and no interruption to any others in
the area.
Bronze award for innovation
Western Australia Water adopted
our systems in 2016 and, based on
the benefits to maintaining customer
supplies, the Aquastop and Wizard
systems won 2017 Product Innovations
Bronze Award. During the first six
months of 2018, the systems were also
adopted in Sydney and Melbourne.
First sales were also won in Chile and
the Falkland Islands, and field trials are
currently ongoing in Italy.
The importance of product quality and
management systems accreditations
and approvals is a key part of building
and maintaining our global reputation.
This has been built on the back of
functional quality, reliability and
personal service.
Aquastop, Wizard and
Arctic Driver water
systems on display
A fifth of the
supply is lost
each day to
leakages and
20 per cent of
all mains
water is lost to
Support services to assist
company development
Our recent success has benefited
significantly from funding support and
guidance from Scottish Enterprise (SE).
Sarco Stopper is SE account managed
and this provides regular access to key
experts within SE to support the relevant
business activities being undertaken.
Other support services include the
Chamber of Commerce and RBS as the
new bankers following the change of
ownership. The company had an option
to purchase its new factory, and having
invested in additional offices, testing lab
and storage facilities, it was important
to take up this option. A bank loan for
approximately 50 per cent of the cost
enabled this to be secured in 2015.
The future for the company is positive,
continuing its original objectives
to develop, grow and diversify the
business through new product
innovation and increased marketing of
existing Sarco products and providing
bespoke solutions for more advanced
applications. Product innovation is in
the company’s DNA.
Medical stent technology
transfer for pipeline applications
In 2012 Sarco Stopper secured
exclusive rights to a medical inflatable
stent patent for use in pipeline
networks. The benefits of stent
technology will allow leaks to be
controlled by deploying a stent with
associated electronics and sensors, like
cameras, under pressure into a gas or
water distribution main.
The stent would then be inflated to
control the leak, while allowing the
gas, water or fluids to flow through
the centre of the stent, maintaining
customer supply and avoiding
depressurising the network, which
could affect large geographical areas
and require complex valve shuts.
Gas Stent® development
Since 2016, Sarco has been
developing a Gas Stent with support
funding from partners Scotia Gas
Networks (SGN). First extended field
trials are scheduled to complete by
the latter part of 2018.
Hydro Stent® development
A similar development project for the
Hydro Stent for use in trunk mains
and smaller distribution mains has
been secured with Thames Water
and Affinity Water. This inflatable
stent technology could well alter how
distribution mains are maintained
and deliver significant momentum
to further growing company sales in
We are committed to achieving our
growth and diversification objectives
through innovative line stopping
and bypass solutions for UK and
international customers, and further
enhance our global reputation as a
niche quality manufacturer, providing
a comprehensive package of pipeline
product solutions, technical design and
support services.
innovation is
in the
Gas examples
»SGN | Cadent (National Grid) | Northern Gas Networks
»Gas de France | Ital Gas | Gas Natural (Spain)
»Power Gas Singapore | ATCO Gas (Australia)
»Hong Kong & China Gas | Metro Gas (Argentina)
Water examples
»Thames Water | Affinity Water | Severn Trent
»Anglian Water | Wessex Water | Yorkshire Water
»Southern Water | South West Water | United Utilities
»Welsh Water | Scottish Water | Northumberland Water
»Western Australia Water & Eastern Water Utilities
Upstream oil & gas & bespoke applications
»Marathon Oil | Total | Chevron | BP | Shell
»TAQA | STATS | Team Fermanite | TD Williamson
»Jacobs – Nuclear
New twin gas
stopper system,
developed with

This article was sponsored by Sarco Stopper. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister