Going Greener: How A Young Engineer Is Finally Transforming Industrial Services

Thomas Uhlenbruck, founder and CEO of Pulse Industrial Monitoring, is saving three things: Steam, money and the environment.

November 14, 2019

“Most people don’t know this, but it’s a really big number. The production of steam accounts for 45 per cent of all fuel spent in Canada and the United States. 45 per cent. If we can reduce the production of steam, can we reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions? Well, we can reduce them—and we are.”

Thomas Uhlenbruck’s passion for his work is contagious. He is the founder and CEO of Pulse Industrial Monitoring, a current AC JumpStart client. He continues.

“We’re also improving the safety in industrial plants through the use of data collection and machine-learned analytics. It’s exciting stuff. There’s this quote by Trae Stephens that really hits home for me: ‘There has been virtually no innovation in industrial services technology for decades.’ It’s true.  Industrial services companies are massive but they don’t get much attention from entrepreneurial ventures,” he says.

Pulse Industrial creates smart monitors that analyze sound and vibrations to detect failures in industrial equipment. Its first application is for steam traps—devices found all over steam systems to filter out water and contain steam.

“The University of Waterloo campus’ heating system has over 2,000 steam traps…and that’s just within Ring Road,” explains Thomas. “Steam traps fail frequently, leading to heavy steam leaks, resulting in unnecessary fuel loss and CO2 emissions. These failures happen all the time and often stay undetected.”

Pulse Industrial allows for better management of steam traps to optimize facility operations. With its monitoring service, operators can now find and fix failures immediately.

“It’s a long-lasting, cost-effective and easy-to-setup solution for any and every facility,” says Thomas.

Beyond being a more efficient steam system, which leads to an improved environmental footprint, Pulse Industrial’s Steam Trap Monitors saves companies fuel and operating expenses. “Steam trap failures lead to heavy steam leaks, which accounts for over 5 per cent of a plant’s fuel and water treatment cost,” he explains. “The fact is, steam trap failures are difficult to detect manually, even with trained staff and the right equipment. They just are. Our Steam Trap Monitors improve reliability.”

Who is Thomas, the man revolutionizing industrial innovation?

He’s an engineer. A young engineer. He graduated from his undergraduate degree in 2018. A background in environmental engineering and software, he never really thought he’d start his own business. “During school, I was pretty certain I’d be working a typical engineering job,” he said.

“Pulse Industrial came to life thanks to my engineering capstone project. My friend Shahriar was really into the startup scene, so we participated in a lot of the entrepreneur competitions. Most of us had set plans after graduation and I was in the middle of an accelerated Master’s, so starting a company wasn’t really a thought at first.”

But then, it was.

“Towards the end of the project I started to get into the tech and I really enjoyed it. I started talking to industry professionals about the idea, and they loved it. That was my validation at the time. I left my Master’s and decided to give it a go,” he grinned.

“Being part of the startup scene in Waterloo, you’ll hear about the Accelerator Centre. I sure did. The $30,000 I received from AC JumpStart is a huge help, and the mentorship is nothing short of world-class. As the PR mentor Ellyn described it to me, you can really treat the mentor team like having a senior officer in every department of your company. Kevin Hood would be your VP of sales and marketing, Kevin Elop would be your CFO, and the list goes on and on.”

Thomas is passionate about his green company and says that he feels lucky to be able to use his environmental engineering background to help be part of the solution to a healthier planet.

“There is an amazing societal push on all things green right now,” he says. “I’m all for cleantech and I’m all for cleaning up the planet, but I’ve learned that, as an entrepreneur, being cleantech alone won’t sell your product. Your solution needs to be synonymous with value for your customer. If it’s not, why would they buy it? We need more than just great cleantech to clean up the world; we need great cleantech that companies and consumers actually want to buy. That’s how we make big changes happen. I’m so proud that I’ve created a product that is both environmentally and economically necessary—and I’m excited to create more.”

Find out more about Pulse Industrial Monitoring by visiting its website.

Building a business that’s a win for the environment and the economy like Thomas’? We want to hear about it. Apply to the Accelerator Centre’s TD Sustainable Future Program today and join us in going greener.

Ready to Apply?

Our team is comprised of world-class mentors and specialists that drive our startups to success. If your passionate about the technology, the startup community we would love to hear from you!