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Making strides in the science of infrared imaging

Feb. 18, 2020
Sheila Kennedy says industrial thermography offerings improve safety, security, and process continuity.

Spotting unwanted hot spots, suspicious persons, and process variations are among the goals of industrial infrared (IR) thermography. IR imagers detect and measure heat radiating from equipment, systems, building envelopes, and people while IR thermometers monitor surface temperatures in industrial processes.

About the Author: Sheila Kennedy

Using IR tools to detect anomalies helps to avoid equipment overheating and failure, hazards such as arc flash and fires, costly energy leaks and mold, process disruptions, and security breaches. Incorporating IR reporting software and professional training enables safe, efficient, and compliant thermography practices.

Software and services

New cloud-based TI Reporter software from T/IR Systems simplifies how infrared inspection results are documented and reported. The software works with all thermal imagers, regardless of make, model, or age, and was developed by thermographers to help thermographers do their job faster and more easily and efficiently.

“TI Reporter is unique for many reasons, including its use of the cloud,” says Jim Seffrin, manager of T/IR Systems. “Thermographers can generate their reports in real time in the field, using any internet-connected device – including smartphones. The software produces standards-compliant reports for a wide variety of applications, with no reformatting needed.” T/IR Systems is the parent company of Infraspection Institute, an independent infrared training and certification firm.

Another training and support organization is United Infrared, which specializes in thermography certification. It offers application-specific training such as roof scanning, electrical switchgear testing, block wall scanning, and moisture scanning as well as courses such as ultrasound, video scoping, and steam systems. It is also an IR camera and equipment supplier and source for imaging services.

“Due to economies of scale, the doors have opened for more engineers to recognize the value of thermography in the workplace,” says Peter Hopkins, vice president of United Infrared. “Now priced in the thousands of dollars, facility managers often have quick approvals for a decent-resolution infrared camera.”

Safety and security tools

IR windows allow inspectors to see potential electrical problems while the equipment remains in an “enclosed and guarded” state. The recent integration of IR windows from IRISS into Pow-R-Way III busway joint covers from Eaton facilitates IR, ultraviolet, and visual inspection of energized bus joints, which are subject to thermal expansion and contraction and related risks.

Eaton collaborated with IRISS on the integrated IR joint cover “to provide our customers with a safer, more efficient solution that offers an accurate view of the state of their bus joints through infrared inspection,” explains Jared Hines, product engineering manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector. “This cost- and time-effective solution meets our customer maintenance needs while ensuring compliance with the highest safety standards.”

Perimeter security cameras with advanced heat-sensing capabilities can detect people and vehicles through smoke, fog, and the dark of night. The new high-resolution H4 Thermal camera from Avigilon, a Motorola Solutions company, enables users to see greater detail from longer distances, even in total darkness. It combines thermal imaging with Avigilon’s patented on-board self-learning video analytics to ensure high detection accuracy.

The hotter an object is compared to its surroundings, the higher the contrast will be in the image, observes Preeth Kumar, associate product manager for cameras at Avigilon. “Rated for thermal sensitivity of <60mK, the H4 Thermal camera is able to capture details in scenes with low-temperature contrasts and empower customers with the information they need,” Kumar adds.

For a live video feed from inside vessels, tanks, reactors, and other hazardous environments as well as remote observation of external facilities, Larson Electronics recently announced a network IP camera with built-in infrared light for low-light conditions and after dark. The remotely operated camera is described as “explosion proof, dust and ignition proof, weatherproof, and tamper resistant” and identified as EXPCMR-IP-POEP-2MP-IR-108D-1XLE3-1224.

Temperature monitoring

Portable or mounted IR thermometers measure surface temperatures of objects. The new Heat Spy Monitor R10 from Palmer Wahl is a compact, low-cost, fixed IR thermometer. The IR sensor enables non-contact temperature measurement in OEM equipment and industrial process and control monitoring applications, including commercial ovens, paper dryers, automotive paint booth heaters, and tobacco curing.

According to Alan Clark, applications engineer and technical support at Palmer Wahl, the R10 is one of the smallest fixed-mount IR measuring systems available, with a temperature range of 0 to 500°C (32 to 932°F), a nominal stated accuracy of 1% of reading, and a distance-to-target ratio of 20:1.

Technology Toolbox

This article is part of our monthly Technology Toolbox column. Read more from Sheila Kennedy.

About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/kennedysheila.

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