Integration Of Infrared Thermography With Preventive Maintenance Programs

Technicians resort to thermal cameras for inspection of any facility area for preventive maintenance programs. These cameras help them to quickly compare and measure heat signatures for all their equipment during inspections. The biggest advantage of using Infrared Thermography is they do not disrupt daily operations in the premise. You can get accurate readings on problem areas to determine the source of the problem. Signature failures can be fixed immediately without hampering the workflow process.

Combining Infrared Thermography with other technologies used for maintenance programs

Experts of infrared thermography state that if the temperature of an area is rapidly different from any of its past readings, the facility can resort to additional technologies commonly used for maintenance like lube analysis, motor circuit readings, vibration, airborne ultrasound and the like. These alternative technologies will help the facility owners to investigate further the root of the issue to determine the next step for action.

Keep all your readings in a single computer system

For achieving the best results, it is prudent to integrate all the maintenance technologies you generally resort to for inspection into a single computer system. You should create work orders, reports, histories, and equipment lists for all of them so that you have a single platform for the information. Once you get data from your infrared thermal camera, you can correlate this data with these technologies. From this, you can frame the real operating condition of all of the above assets in a single report with an integrated format.

Application of Infrared Thermography

With Infrared Thermography, you can-

  1. Supervise and take measures of the bearing temperature in big motors or any kind of rotating equipment
  2. You can easily detect the “hot” spots in any kind of electronic equipment
  3. Quickly identify any type of leaks in a sealed vessel
  4. Discover insulation faults in process pipes
  5. Identify faults relating to termination in electrical circuits that have high power ranges
  6. Find an overhead circuit breaker in any power panel
  7. Discover fuses at or close to the location of the current capacity
  8. Find issues in any electronic switchgear
  9. Get readings of process temperature

The role of Infrared Thermography in the inspection process

Infrared Thermography helps in-

  1. using current lists of equipment derived from any CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) or any other type of inventory tool
  2. eliminating items that are not compatible with infrared measurements
  3. reviews production and maintenance records. It helps in prioritizing major equipment that is more prone to fail or be the chief cause of disruption in the production process
  4. use spreadsheets or databases to place critical equipment under one group. This can be done by function or area. They can also be grouped into two to three- hour blocks for inspection.
  5. the thermal camera can be used for capturing the baseline image of any critical equipment. There might be some kinds of equipment where you regularly need to capture several thermal images of the prime components of key sub-systems.
  6. download the baseline image into software. You can document this route with descriptions of the location, notes relating to the inspection, alarm levels, RTC levels, emissivity, etc, if they apply.
  7. You can simply upload previous images of an inspection with onscreen prompts if it is supported by your imager when the next date for inspection falls due.

Understanding the guidelines for measurement

To get the best images with your thermal camera, keep the following best practices in mind-

  1. Make sure that your targeted system operates at least 40% of the current load( if you take a lighter load, they will not produce a lot of heat making it challenging for you to identify issues)
  2. Get as close as you can for your target. Do not shoot through a door. Make sure you never shoot through glass. Electronic enclosures should never be opened unless permitted by safety guidelines. The same also applied to utilized view ports and infrared windows.
  3. Make an account for air and wind currents. They are strong convective elements that often cool down abnormal heat spots bringing them down below thresholds for detection.’
  4. Make accounts for air temperatures ambient in nature especially when measuring facilities outdoors. If the weather is hot, the sunlight heats the equipment. Again, cold weather can mask the results of components that are overheated.
  5. All issues do not result from heat. A limited flow or a blown fuse are instances where the issue is indicated by coolers over a normal signature. In other scenarios, a cold component can be abnormal because of the current drifting away from connections with high-resistance. Experts in thermography imaging should understand how the machine functions and its failure to detect heat instances.
  6. You should consider the sources needed for infrared radiation reflective in nature. Those items that have surfaces with shiny reflections or are emissive generally reflects the infrared energy that comes from items close by. This includes the sun as well. This element interferes with the measurement of the target temperature and its image capture.
  7. If a metal has no paint, it becomes difficult to measure. To enhance measurements, you should affix the target. You can use paper stickers, painted spots, or an electrical tape fixed to the component.
  8. Collect the thermal images and numeric temperatures to promote analysis in the long-run. The trends in temperature display areas where you need to investigate further and the places where the inspections can be less regular.
  9. Once you have received the database of baseline images, link them individually to an alarm temperature. You should upload the latest version on your thermal camera before you take an inspection. In case the alarm rings before you take in the new measurement, this notifies you of a significant temperature change that requires further investigation.

Thermal cameras are indispensable when it comes to any maintenance program for detecting problems. Drastic changes in temperature often indicate failures that need prompt investigation. When using thermography imaging for any facility, always keep the above guidelines in mind to get accurate readings for any preventive maintenance program successfully!

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