Infrared Thermography / Temperature Monitoring

Thermography solutions in demand: Better, more affordable solutions are at your disposal

Sheila Kennedy says infrared cameras are capturing sharper images of hot processes and distant targets.

By Sheila Kennedy

High value and competitive prices are enhancing the popularity of IR thermography solutions. Micro thermal imaging developments are enabling new and more affordable applications. High definition infrared cameras are capturing sharper images of more distant targets. Solutions for monitoring hot processes, solar farms, and feverish personnel are now available, and an infrared window that incorporates both sight and sound has been introduced.

Lower prices

Small, cost-effective cameras are helping to increase the adoption rate of thermal imaging technology.  The Lepton IR sensor core from Flir is a compact, low-cost longwave infrared sensor in a camera body that is smaller than a dime. The Lepton-equipped TG165 IR Imaging Thermometer from Flir displays invisible heat patterns, allowing users to see where problems exist prior to measuring the spot temperature.

”Our new TG165 IR Imaging Thermometer can be used to quickly identify and diagnose maintenance issues throughout the plant,” says Michael Fox, VP & General Manager at FLIR Test and Measurement. “Priced under $500, thermal imaging technology can now go in every toolbox.”

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Greater distances

Capturing quality images from very long ranges is possible with today’s technology. The new 1024 x 768 resolution TiX1000 Infrared Camera from Fluke displays fine details whether close up or from great distances. It is suitable for maintenance, process inspection, and manufacturing research and development tasks.

“The TiX1000 has ten times the on-camera pixels of a regular 320 x 240 camera, a very fast frame rate, HD image options with the software, and it takes incredible images from very long distances,” says Michael Stuart, thermography service manager and Level III thermographer at Fluke. “These kinds of capabilities matter in manufacturing, utility, and field situations where you can’t safely get close to the target object but still need to get a sharp image from a long way away.”

Unique applications

Hot work processes require specially designed instruments. The Predator series of thermal imaging cameras from General Tools & Instruments was recently expanded to include models with temperature measurement ranges up to 600°C (1112°F), 1000°C (1832°F) and 1500°C (2732°F).
“For facility managers and maintenance staff in plants running high-temperature processes—like those related to chemical, refining, metal manufacturing and even electrical power—it’s essential to be able to perform thermography-based upkeep and diagnose emerging problems in equipment and systems that operate at super-hot temperatures,” says John Javetski, instruments product specialist at General Tools & Instruments.

Solar farm inspections are not difficult when the right tools are at hand. Testo’s latest thermal imager, the 870, is designed for ease of operation with a fixed-focus lens and a five-way joystick button to navigate the menus. Starting with Testo 875 models and up, a unique Solar Mode feature simplifies solar panel inspections by detecting the heat generated by defects.

“Inspecting huge solar farms is normally very time consuming, but the Testo thermal cameras offer a shortcut to spotting failed solar cells on a panel, failed diodes and also failed connections between the panels, even in large panel arrays,” says Krys Krawczyk, thermal imager product manager at Testo. “It allows the operators to capture inspection data on more regular intervals.”

Thermal imaging is not just for equipment. The Wahl HSI4000M Fever Alert Thermal Imaging System from Palmer Wahl is able to quickly screen groups of people for fever in real time. The unobtrusive, non-contact system detects elevated body temperatures so that steps can be taken to potentially limit the transmission of infectious disease.

"With Ebola knocking on our door, it is time to be prepared by monitoring employee temperature using the Wahl Fever Alert system, and prevent the spread of influenza and viruses and keep your company humming along," says Stephen Santangelo, president at Palmer Wahl.

Safe viewing

Safer and more efficient energized electrical inspections can be conducted from behind a viewing window. The CAP-4-US combination IR window and ultrasound port from IRISS allows a multi-technology approach to avoiding dangerous and damaging arc flash and electrical fire incidents. It enables visual, ultrasound, and infrared inspections to detect potentially hazardous faults in transformers, switchgear, and other critical electrical assets. The square, four-inch IR window has a field of view that is 30 percent greater than traditional round windows. Available in either transparent or opaque polymer, the CAP-4-US complies with all mandatory impact, load, and flammability requirements. Kaeser Compressors. “If you only glance at the numbers, charts and graphs, it’s not going to make a difference on your energy bill. Don’t be afraid to partner with someone who can help you interpret the data and make concrete recommendations to fix any problems.”

Read Sheila Kennedy's monthly column, Technology Toolbox.