Infrared thermography is a non-destructive, predictive maintenance technique that can be used to monitor the thermal signatures of plant machinery and electrical apparatus and building systems without disrupting normal operations.
Infrared thermographers use cameras designed to monitor the emissions of infrared energy. These infrared cameras detect electromagnetic energy from an object in the form of heat and convert it into a video signal that produces a color image that can be stored for further detailed analysis.
Thermography can be applied to any situation in which an anomaly or condition can display itself by means of a thermal variance. This predictive technique can be used to inspect electrical apparatus, high voltage substations, utility line distribution, roof moisture, refractory systems, mechanical systems and building envelope,ramp heat systems, heat trace cables, pipe and steam traps and more. We perform our inspections with the “FLIR” S(P)660, or T640 – professional performance, high resolution, handheld thermal and digital imaging systems.
Regular thermographic inspections can be an extremely effective tool to optimize equipment and system efficiencies and help diagnose existing or potential failures of electrical, mechanical, refractory and building envelope related systems, saving your facility from the expense and inconvenience of significant or catastrophic equipment failure.
Infrared cameras have come a very long way over the past few years and the latest infrared imagers with 640×480 resolution are 16x more detailed and accurate than the previous models with 320 x 240 resolution. In this resolution comparison conducted by ITC trainers, results show significant improvement in detecting anomalies with the higher resolution cameras.
Infrared radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum and travels at the speed of light. It can be reflected, refracted and focused. Infrared radiation can be emitted by an object with a temperature above absolute zero (-273.16 centigrade.) The basis of infrared thermography is quite simple; all objects emit heat or electromagnetic energy but only a fraction of this energy is visible to the naked eye. Radiation of the Electromagnetic Spectrum is often categorized by wavelength or discrete packets known as photons. Short wavelength is the highest energy and can be quite destructive. Ultraviolet, gamma and x-ray are types of short wavelength radiation. Longer wavelength radiation, such as infrared, radio and microwave, is of lower energy and is less destructive.
Although infrared radiation is not visible, we can sense its characteristics from the heat generated. A fine example of this is when you turn on your stove element to high and place your hand above the element, you can feel heat rising from the element yet there is no visible changes to the element. Seconds later the element emits a reddish glow. What’s happening is that the electromagnetic spectrum is moving from infrared to visible wavelength.