By: Raj-Kabir Birk
As gas-based technology advances, the need for safety is becoming ever more prevalent. These preventative measures must be reliable, consistent, and adaptable to have a lasting impact. Emcara Gas Development Inc. is treading that path with success. Founded by Erick Girouard, Emcara designs and manufactures pressure release devices, or PRDs.
The Ontario-based company has developed a device that drastically improves the fire protection of compressed natural gas (CNG) and hydrogen tanks for vehicles and other applications. This PRD prevents an explosion of a tank in a fire by emptying the contents before the tank ruptures.
What differentiates Emcara’s PRDs from other preventative devices is their responsiveness. Other devices, such as building fire sprinklers, must be directly heated to activate.
Emcara’s technology has a long trigger and activates even with a small fire anywhere on the tank. It also provides savings of up to 40% of conventional safety methods.
A key step forward for Emcara in the past year has been an increase in employees. In January 2013, Emcara hired their first co-op student as a third employee. They have since begun hiring two to three engineering students per term. By the end of 2013, Emcara had hired a new Chief Financial Officer, Design Engineer and Quality Manger, and has recently hired a new Director of Customer and Market Development.
In addition to a growing foundation of employees, Emcara is continually strengthening their customer base. A major customer has signed a long-term deal with Emcara, and another major customer, who already form a large part of Emcara’s sales, are also expected to sign a long-term deal soon. There have also been initial sales to major OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). Sales have grown four times over the last two years, and Emcara are expected to at least match that this year. Another key part of Emcara’s success is continued innovation in their field. The company will release a 5000 psi CNG and hydrogen parts.
Tim Scott, one of Altitude Accelerator’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, worked closely with Emcara and provided a great deal of knowledge and expertise. Erick Girouard came from a technical background, and Tim’s help was crucial in helping Erick realize his business goals. The networking possibilities Altitude Accelerator provides were also utilized by Emcara to create new contacts.
Emcara has since expanded into a new facility, and their products have also penetrated the international market. “We continue to get a number of inquiries from companies all over the world, such as Australia, Japan, Korea and Thailand, with consistent sales coming from Germany and throughout the U.S. and Canada,” says Erick Girouard. However, progress does not stop there for Emcara. “Our goal for continued success is to develop as a company; to keep pace with the growing demand of our industry, in an effort to become a well-recognized and trusted name. We plan to increase our resources by the end of the year; to ramp-up production capacity and expand our research and development branch.”