Enfield firm growing with green technology [Hartford Business Journal]

June 26, 2011

By Kathryn M. Roy
Article as it appeared in the Hartford Business Journal

A 42-year-old Enfield company that has built its name and reputation on time management and fleet management innovation is making inroads in the field of green technology and integration.

At an open house event June 17, Control Module Industries demonstrated how it has grown its employee base by 30 percent over the past two years, with steady growth in new technologies for electric car charging and clean technology systems for truck stops.

Control Module Industries’ Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, or EVSE, provides intelligent vehicle charging stations for electric cars, trucks and buses. CMI says its EVSE is the only system on the market that features an automatic, overhead cable management system for charging, a feature that could make it attractive for mass-use locations such as municipalities, casinos, hotels and large corporations.

The overhead cable system, which automatically retracts the cable after its use, addresses the problem with other systems of cables lying on the ground.

“No one else has filled this need for charging,” said James S. Bianco, president and CEO of Control Module Industries. “Cables on the ground are a tripping hazard, and we feel OSHA one day will say something about that.”

Bianco said there was a slow start to the electric car market until regulations required that all electric cars feature the same standard charging plug and connector system. “This allowed the electrical vehicle market to develop,” Bianco said. “About 50 to 60 manufacturers are coming out with electric vehicles, so that’s what made this real.”

To address the growing need for at-home charging systems, CMI has created a unique charging module. Jimmy Bianco Jr., vice president of sales and marketing at CMI, said since 90 percent of homes run on electric systems of 90 amps, standard home electrical panels are insufficient to charge an electric car, which he said utilizes 72 amps.

The system, which involves a small wall unit that replaces a standard electrical box, uses innovative technology to keep an electric car fully charged while allowing standard household appliances to be used. Bianco Jr. said the system, which costs about $400, makes at-home charging of electric cars a much more practical, economical option.

CMI is also bringing its green technologies to truck stops with its CabAire/vehicle electricification system. Trucks burn about one gallon of diesel fuel per hour while idling, and sustain more engine wear and tear. But as more states prohibit idling while drivers sleep or take breaks, truck drivers lose their access to heat or air conditioning to help improve their comfort.

The CabAire system, which temporarily attaches to a truck’s door, can provide heat, air conditioning, electricity and even an internet connection. Drivers can insert a smart card into the machine to pay for CabAire by the hour.

“It’s half the price of a gallon of diesel per hour,” Bianco said. “Drivers save money, have clean air, a quiet cab and less wear and tear on their truck.”

Bianco, an inventor with multiple patents to his name, repurposed a vending machine-style container to dispense the CabAire systems at truck stops, so that no human labor is involved. CMI recently installed CabAire systems at the Vince Lombardi Plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike, and has installed about 600 such systems at truck stops to date.

CMI moved into its 44,000 square-foot space about three years ago, and is running out of room again. Bianco said he’s planning to construct a 20,000 square-foot addition. CMI employs more than 75 people.

State Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield), who attended the open house, said CMI is a great corporate citizen making progress in a rapidly growing field.

“When you talk about cutting edge, this really is cutting edge,” Kissel said. “I have seen this go from conceptualization to reality. They’ve grown 30 percent over the last two years and they’ve been working against the tide. Think of how impressive that is.”