Why thermography is good for your businessThermography used to be very expensive, difficult, and primarily used by large industrial facilities and the military. These days, it’s become much more affordable, easier to use, and more broadly applied. This means that our customers have heard of it. It is a very impressive technology.
Since the tool, a thermal imager, works by producing thermal (heat) pictures of the equipment, you can immediately see the benefits. In one pass through a facility, we can usually find at least one component about to fail. This makes for a powerful demonstration and an easy business builder.
Our advantage we have as experienced thermographers and qualified engineers, is having broad experience with many types of equipment and failure scenarios—just like any other troubleshooting situation, the person behind the imager needs to draw on experience to help analyze the readings. If this part of the panel is hot, should I investigate the connections or the load?
Adding thermography to any maintenance routine makes sense. For predictive maintenance, we take thermal images of key units (panels, drives, motors, etc.) at least once a year if not more often, and compare these images with each visit. Hot spots that weren’t there last time indicate problems in the making to investigate before they cause failure. Software on the thermal imager helps you align your images time after time, so that you’re making consistent comparisons. Here are some additional things to consider:
- Most equipment’s failure mechanisms involve a significant rise in operating temperature long before catastrophic failure occurs.
- Thermal images are best taken while equipment is operational. No shutdowns needed.
- Thermal images are taken at a safe distance. Minimal safety risk (except for live voltage—that still requires full electrical safety precautions).
- Thermal images can access components and units not otherwise measurable, such as ceiling runs.
- Thermal measurements help detect imminent failures in nearly all types of equipment, from electrical to mechanical, process, electronic, and so on.
- Because thermal inspections are fast, they can cover more ground and find problems in areas that would typically be ignored.
Here’s a summary of principle applications:
- Electrical power distribution systems: Three-phase systems, distribution panels, fuses, wiring and connections, substations, electrical vaults, etc.
- Electro-mechanical equipment: Motors, pumps, fans, compressors, bearings, windings, gear boxes, and conveyors
- Process instrumentation: Process control equipment, pipes, valves, steam traps and tanks/vessels
- Facility maintenance: HVAC systems, buildings, roofs, insulation