Infrared thermal imaging systems are valuable tools that may be used to pinpoint problem areas and avoid costly plant shutdowns. The use of thermal imaging does not eliminate the need for a thorough preventive maintenance program. It serves as a means of indentifying critical areas and to locate trouble spots that help to determine maintenance priorities between scheduled shutdowns.
Infrared thermal imaging systems operate on the basic principal that all objects above absolute zero (-273 C) radiate infrared energy, the level and wavelength of which are proportional to the temperature of the object. Since infrared energy is invisible to the naked eye, some means must be provided to transform it to a visual image. Basically, an infrared thermal imaging system consists of a camera that remotely picks up the infrared radiation being transmitted, detectors which transform the radiation to electrical signals, an amplifier to boost the signal to suitable levels, and a monitor to view the visual image.
Most equipment failures in an industrial/commercial facility are accompanied by increased temperatures, in other words...they got hot. Infrared thermal imaging systems can detect this rise in temperature thus can be applied in a wide variety of areas. Since no physical contact is required between objects being scanned and the test equipment, it can be used during normal operation of the facility. This allows the thermographer to pinpoint trouble spots with no interruptions of service.
During equipment startup, thermal imaging may be used to check insulation efficiency, optimize control settings and locate any thermal losses or hot spots. Before scheduled maintenance shutdowns, it can be used to identify areas requiring immediate attention. After shutdowns, it may be used to verify and evaluate the repair work.
Increased current flow in electrical equipment due to overloading, insulation breakdown, or high resistance connections results in increased heat. Thermal imaging systems detect these problems in their early stages, before failure occurs reducing downtime, risk of fire, and increasing life safety.
Downtime can be minimized by using Thermal imaging systems as a preventive/predictive tool. Finding problems before they occur allows time for parts to be ordered and on-hand for scheduled maintenance and repairs.
Risk of electrical fire is reduced using Thermal imaging systems. Early detection of hot spots gives the maintenance personnel time to correct the problem, effectively eliminating the chance that it will develop into a fire.
Reduction of equipment failure and fire increases life safety. Locating problems before they occur prevents accidents leading to personal injury and property damage.
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