Before the complete failure of mechanical or electrical systems, they tend to burn hotter, which can be easily picked up by thermal imaging devices. Early detection of temperature anomalies can prod the maintenance crews to take up corrective measures and prevent damages. Thermal imaging facilitates maintenance works and helps property owners avoid expensive repair and maintenance.
The biggest advantage of using thermal imaging in electrical maintenance is that it can accurately point out energy losses in specific sections of a building. Maintenance crews don’t need to use destructive detection methods thereby avoiding damages to the structure. Inspection can be expedited by coupling thermal imaging with other maintenance systems like ‘Blower Door’. A thermal imaging camera is a non-contact instrument to accurately scan as well as visualize temperature distribution on surfaces. Thermography driven electrical maintenance has contributed to higher cost savings across the globe.
1. Safety first is the Golden Rule
Predictive maintenance using thermography is an extremely safe method of inspection for electrical systems. Additionally, you should remember certain rules that keep you safe when you handle electrical equipment. Make sure that any equipment that you are cleaning doesn’t come in contact with water and that includes the thermal imaging devices. It could prove fatal causing electrocution as water is a good conductor of electricity. Also, make sure that you do not use an iron ladder while carrying out maintenance activities. Turn off the power supply to any electrical equipment before maintenance jobs; it’s better if you can pull out the plugs.
No-contact inspections using thermal imaging cameras can prevent accidents and help the maintenance crew carry out their repair and maintenance tasks without worrying about hazards such as electrocution.
2. Children should be protected from Hazards
Curious kids fiddle with almost everything that they can lay their hands on. You should always cover electrical sockets with safety caps that can resist tampering by children. You should also make sure that your children cannot reach any loose power cords. Thermal imaging would help locate faulty electrical systems and carry out preemptive maintenance. However, we advise you to tie up any power cords lying loose inside your home. There might be a serious issue if you feel even the slightest of a shock while plugging any device into any power outlet. You might also notice the lights on them flickering. In such situations, you should call a professional to have a thorough check carried out.
3. Use Electronics Wisely
There might be occasions when you plug in too many devices into a single power outlet. You shouldn’t be doing so as it may lead to a power outage caused by overloading. Ensure that your electrical devices are placed safely. They shouldn’t be placed below any vent that might just drip. Also, make sure that they are kept at a safe distance from any water source like taps. Ground fault circuit interrupters should be installed for outlets close to anything wet as they switch off power instantly in case any potentially dangerous situation arises.
You must check that all chords are visible and aren’t hidden by rugs or any piece of furniture. This ensures that no one trips on them during inspection or maintenance. Be sure to switch off lights and turn off the power supply to all gadgets and appliances and save power. Using energy-efficient light bulbs is another effective way to save electricity. Adopting practices that help save electricity ensure that the load on your electrical system is less.
4. Be Careful About How You Use Outlets, Plugs, and Wires
The most basic thing to do is to unplug any extension cord when it’s not being used. That goes a long way in avoiding any safety hazards or any fire breaking out. When installing cords and other electrical items outside your home, get only those that are fit to be installed outside. There are electric sockets that have new safety features. Use these advanced electric sockets to replace the old outlets. There may be occasions when the parts inside an outlet get loose. In such situations do replace them with a fresh plug. Loose outlets are potentially very dangerous and they may cause a fire. While adjusting any prong, you shouldn’t bend down. If you do, it might cause an electric shock. It is also very important that you don’t force any plug into any outlet.
Hire a thermographer to check any old property you might have purchased as they can help you detect faulty electrical systems or wiring issues. They use hand-held highly accurate thermal imaging tools to detect temperature anomaly often caused by poorly maintained electrical systems. A thermographer will thoroughly check electrical systems, including the entire wiring for faults. Frayed wires should be strictly avoided. Ask your maintenance guy to replace them at the earliest. If any of your electrical appliances receives its power through frayed wires, do unplug the appliance or turn off the power
5. Mandatory routine checkups
You must hire a thermographer to carry out a thorough inspection of the electrical system in your home at least twice a year. That’s because electricity is a potentially dangerous source of power if not used carefully. Any electrician with a proper license would be capable of replacing damaged wires and checking electric panels and even testing the circuit breakers. That ensures your family’s safety and protection. A professional thermographer would help in the early detection of faulty electrical systems making it easier for electricians or a maintenance crew to carry out repair jobs.
The best defensive strategy to adopt is to remain prepared for any sort of emergency. It’s good to have a proper plan in place to have the exterior wirings of your home repaired regularly. Also, make sure that your home has a warranty for the interior electrical system.
6. Have a Residual Current Device Installed
These handy devices are meant for safety and they help a great deal in preventing electrocution. An RCD is fitted to a meter box. It instantly cuts off electricity flow whenever there’s a surge in power. Just as in a smoke alarm, these devices too come with a button that you can test often. If you still don’t have an RCD, we strongly suggest that you do get one or two of them installed.
7. Never Overload a Socket
There’s every chance that a socket will get overheated if you plug extension cables together. That has the power socket overloaded. That’s because in doing so, the maximum current rating allowed for that socket may be exceeded. Therefore, we strongly advise you to use only a single extension lead for a certain socket. A professional thermographer can easily detect the overheating of sockets or other electrical devices.
Electrical maintenance in an industrial set up
It has been observed that the maintenance of mechanical assets is often given higher priority compared to their electrical counterparts. However, proper maintenance of electrical systems (which happen to be very complex as well as expensive) ensures their optimum performance. Equal stress must be given on the maintenance of both electrical equipment and mechanical assets. It is recommended that the latest tools like thermal imagers be used for the effective maintenance of electrical types of equipment.
The question is how do you make a start? It is wrong to simply develop a plan, tell the team about it, and then see how things unfold. The people involved need to be managed efficiently for ensuring sustained improvement.
To handle issues with managing people, it’s important to acknowledge that things can be done in a better way. You should also have a vision for the future. You should set a time frame to develop maintenance strategies for all equipment. A similar time frame should be set for upgrading electrical drawings. Effective training should be ensured for the successful implementation of the strategies. It’s also important to seek the support of the team involved in electrical systems maintenance. The team should share your vision.
You face certain practical issues while handling electrical maintenance.
1. The Need for Resources
At the very outset, you should make it clear that the maintenance of electrical systems will need resources. By this, we don’t mean recruiting more team members. You can simply redeploy some of the internal labor at your disposal. You may also deploy contractors working part-time. Your management will be convinced and not regret the labor loss on the floor caused by their redeployment once they see the gains achieved.
2. Identify the Critical Electrical Assets
You can rank the electrical assets at your unit in terms of how critical they are. You can take feedback from the employees who have had a fairly long tenure with the company. That’s because they almost always have a decent idea of how critical a certain electrical asset might be for the functioning of the unit. You should start with a thermographic inspection of all critical assets so that maintenance tasks are carried out on a priority basis.
3. Know the History of Failures
To build an effective maintenance strategy, you should build an understanding of what the failures have been and how to overcome them. There two sources that give you information on the history of failures at your unit- the CMMS and feedback from the operators who have been around for a while. It’s also important that you identify what caused the failures. You should know what might fail and the effects any such failure is likely to have on your unit. It’ll help you understand how critical the effects of the failure might be and act accordingly. Thermal imaging can go a long way in the early detection of critical electrical systems and facilitate the prioritization of maintenance or repair tasks.
4. Design a List of Inspections and Tasks for Preventive Maintenance
It is quite likely that a preventive maintenance list will be found wanting if it isn’t reviewed regularly. This is despite the fact that some preventive maintenance tasks may have brought the desired results. Before doing a review, a thorough check of existing documents must be done to identify what are the tasks that are likely to work and what are the tasks that might not. While reviewing the effectiveness of the preventive maintenance regime, the use of thermal imaging cameras is highly recommended. With their accurate results, these cameras can tell if a certain maintenance task is having the desired effect or not.
5. Design an Effective Bill of Materials (BOM)
For this, the first step you should take is to build a hierarchy of equipment and their parts based on how critical they are. It is advisable to keep some critical material in stock to ensure that the functioning of your unit isn’t hampered during any contingencies. Having a well designed BOM should be made integral to the overall process of reviewing strategy. During the installation of new equipment, ask for a list of parts from the team involved in the installation based on their criticality. Build a stock of such parts. This’ll ensure its smooth supply when the equipment suffers any maintenance issues.
6. Design Effective Electrical Schematics
Based on how critical the assets in your unit are, a review of the schematics accuracy should be carried out. The way to do so is to collect all the copies of schematic diagrams for certain equipment made on paper. Once this is done a single copy of the schematics should be designed taking help from the most knowledgeable and experienced team of electrical engineers. The single-copy should be a CAD file or one in JPG or PNG or any format that is capable of being stored electronically. It’s a cumbersome process but of great help when any equipment, electrical, or otherwise needs effective maintenance.
7. Work towards Continuous Improvement
Any preventive maintenance program is not likely to be 100% perfect but the use of technologies like thermal imaging certainly improves the success rate. There’s always room for improvement. Take regular feedback from your floor personnel. Make sure that proper and necessary action is taken based on the feedback.
8. Prioritize Work Based on Criticality of the Equipment
You should set priorities on which equipment needs more urgent attention based on its importance to the functioning of the plant. Additionally, you can also include all those types of equipment that have been identified as faulty during their thermographic inspection. Design a workflow that everyone irrespective of his rank in the organization can follow and understand. The workflow should be based on the record of breakdowns of equipment and involve planning and scheduling of tasks that are necessary for their effective and timely maintenance.
Not only is the effective maintenance of electrical equipment using thermography critical to the functioning of a unit or home, but it is also critical to ensuring safety. Faulty electrical equipment can cause fatal accidents as can their lack of proper and effective maintenance. As they say, “It’s better safe than sorry”.