Workplace explosions just another day at Powertech Labs
When your typical workday can involve exploding high-pressure gas tanks, you know you don’t have a regular 9-to-5 job. In fact, that sort of daily drama can be quite alluring to new engineering talent.
Raymond Lings, CEO of Powertech Labs, based in Surrey, British Columbia, says the wholly owned subsidiary of BC Hydro is one of the largest engineering, standards and code-testing and research labs in North America. Powertech Labs never lacks for résumés from prospective hires.
We are not short of job applicants from around the world. We are sitting in a corner of Surrey having a lot of fun day to day providing services to industry.
Some of that fun involves testing high-pressure gas components and systems to the brink of failure, and beyond, for the advanced clean transportation sector. Think of hydrogen-fueled vehicles and compressed natural gas systems.
“When you’ve got hydrogen gas and a high-pressure system, we put them under adverse conditions,” says Lings. “That means controlled explosions. At our remote test site near Hope, British Columbia, we simulate high pressure, head-on collisions, extreme heat and fire. One of the fun things we do is shoot at high-pressure tanks. We do that to make sure vehicles are safe.”
Lings says the burgeoning cleantech industry and trend toward green vehicles is ramping up business. “Transport is a clear winner for us as we go forward,” he says. “The push within Canada and within British Columbia to drive electric vehicles gives us competitive examples. And this leads to a safer vehicle for the global industry.”
The company’s Surrey headquarters is a prime location for doing business in the Asia-Pacific region and tapping new market access benefits stemming from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Typically, utilities in North America will look to a lab that they know well. We are seen as a go-to lab for Asian suppliers that want to go into the North American market.
Lings says the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has helped navigate the industry and work with clients overseas: “We lean heavily on the trade commissioners. They help us get in to see companies, and where we have had concerns, we have used the trade office to help us interface with those clients. They open doors for us and they have resolved problems for us.”
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