Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sensing Success: Entech Can Spot Trouble

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sensing Success: Entech Can Spot Trouble

Article excerpt

Gary Weil didn't have to travel across the world to crack the booming Asian market.

Weil, vice president of EnTech Engineering Inc., just walked to his fax machine.

Earlier this year, China Light and Power Co. sought out the St. Louis County-based company to see if it could use its remote-sensing, thermographic testing equipment to find leaks of hazardous chemicals under the streets of Hong Kong.

"The first message said, `Please send us information,' " he said. "Then we spent several months going back and forth, also by fax."

On Thursday, a deal finally in hand, Weil and another employee of the nine-employee business left on a mission that calls for a week of testing in Hong Kong, followed by several days in Kowloon.

"We don't know quite what we're walking into," Weil said on Wednesday. "But we're going to try to do everything they want."

EnTech is using its patented, infrared technology to pinpoint spots where oil mixed with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) might be leaking from electric cables buried below Hong Kong.

Because the British-controlled trade center is so densely populated, the more common search method of excavation and exploration would snarl traffic and cause chaos.

EnTech won the job on the strength of word-of-mouth referrals from Italian officials, who used the company to perform similar tests under the streets of Naples and Rome.

"We were very successful with that," said Weil, who won the 1991 Missouri Inventor of the Year award for his system, which is basically an adaptation of military equipment.

The non-destructive system enables EnTech to use thermal sensors and computer-enhanced video images to find leaks and weak spots in electric distribution systems and factory buildings and equipment.

It also lets the company find trouble spots in underground pipelines and tunnels - such as those MetroLink runs through - and voids in concrete highways and bridge decks.

Weil founded EnTech in 1980 as a one-man company, focusing on energy audits of factories and offices and surveys of electrical equipment.

Because EnTech's non-destructive testing methods are much more cost-efficient than more traditional methods, such as digging or dismantling, its profit margins are high. …

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