Due to their cost, outfitting maintenance personnel with a thermal imaging camera was once too expensive to be practical. But as technology advances, thermal or IR cameras are becoming increasingly affordable and have a definite place in any maintenance managers arsenal. Of all the inspection tools we could cover, it is hard to beat the thermal camera in terms of versatility, data collection and overall early failure detection. Here are some reasons why.
Prediction of imminent failure through the detection of heat
In every plant there are many energy sources used to drive machines and other equipment. Whether electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or combustion, a sure sign of failure in any system is excessive heat. Any type of energy or work performed will have a by product of heat, and detection of it is key to making sure equipment is working at normal levels. When heat is not properly dispersed or redirected the result is often machined failure of some kind. Thermally inspecting equipment gives the maintenance planner additional time to correct the problem and perhaps save money in time and costly repairs.
While finding hotspots can be used to detect a failure, so can finding a cool spot. A cool spot on the camera can indicate a water leak. Water leaks or moisture build up can lead to many failures due to corrosion, short circuit, lubrication degradation and many other undesirable conditions.
One of the key factors to keeping machines, motors and electronics all running is proper heat dissipation. The most common method employed is cooling using forced ventilation or airflow. Machines employee fans, airways, baffles and other devices to force ventilation over parts that get hot to preserve their operation. A thermal imaging camera is useful for detecting leaks, measuring output, and otherwise making sure that air is properly flowing where it is supposed to go.
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