1663606581955 Infrafedcamerainspection

Infrared cameras can spot problems from a distance

Sept. 6, 2022
Sheila Kennedy says widely used thermography techniques keep getting better.

Infrared (IR) thermography scanning and inspection tools are getting more sophisticated and user friendly at the same time. Trained, certified thermographers armed with modern IR devices can safely detect and record adverse safety, environmental, or operational conditions such as hot spots, air and gas leaks, and excessive emissions. A new online marketplace and updated IR standards further bolster success.

Technology developments

Infrared cameras designed for low size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) deliver efficiency along with performance. The new ImageIR 6300 Z from InfraTec GmbH is a small, lightweight infrared camera with a 7.5x zoom lens and motorized focus. The camera’s XBn detector material with high operating temperature (HOT) technology allows for a smaller cooler with lower power.

The ImageIR 6300 Z is “the first fully radiometric SWaP infrared camera with an integrated zoom lens,” says Fabian Göttfert, head of development at InfraTec GmbH. “This novel design allows temperature measurements at different fields of view and focal distances without the need to change lenses, combined with the precision offered by a photon detector camera.”

The FlexView Lens from Teledyne FLIR is designed to improve inspection results and safety while reducing inspection time for thermographers, whether on the plant floor or in the field. It is a dual field-of-view (DFOV) lens attachment for FLIR Axxx and Txxx Series thermography cameras.

“The single form factor provides operators with two lenses in one for greater convenience without compromising weight, while simultaneously delivering improved accuracy of inspection results from a safe stand-off distance,” explains Rob Milner, director of global business development for condition monitoring at Teledyne FLIR. With a single lens, the FlexView eliminates potential lens or camera damage during equipment changes, and provides a smoother, faster inspection experience for operators, he adds.

For aerial drone inspections, the IR Inspector from Infrared Cameras Inc (ICI) leverages thermal imaging to accurately assess the performance of critical assets. The multi-sensor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) payload pairs an ICI 8640 USB infrared camera with a Sony R10C high-resolution visible camera, both with electronic focus and zoom. It also supports aerial radiometry for temperature data streaming. 

Additionally, the company offers an optical gas imaging (OGI) UAV payload that pairs its Mirage HC OGI camera for locating hydrocarbon-based fugitive emissions with a Sony R10C camera. The OGI Inspector is “the only drone-mounted sensor payload that is approved for Quad Oa (OOOOa) inspections by the EPA and is leveraged by dozens of companies for continuous methane monitoring and other critical applications,” observes Gary Forister, CTO of ICI.

The recent 340 Series handheld thermal imager product upgrade from Fotric increases thermal sensitivity to 30 mK and expands the temperature range to 2822 °F (1550 °C). Fotric 340 Series Red, including 348A for manufacturing, oil and gas, and electric industries, provides continuous thermal contrast and laser-assisted auto-focus, as well as manual focus capabilities.

Support from the pros

Because thermal imaging cameras and related equipment keep evolving and improving, United Infrared created RecycleIR.com, a new platform for buying and selling used, quality IR equipment. The IR training and services organization and host of the annual Thermal Imaging Conference (the latest being Sept. 19-22, 2022, in Lake Tahoe, NV) developed the marketplace to fill a need in the industry.

“As part of our business model, thermographers are educated though the thermal imaging business process including what tools are best suited for their needs. With manufacturing technology constantly changing and endless opportunities within the thermal imaging marketplace, thermographers looking to improve and grow their business were asking us how best to sell and price their older equipment and thus we created RecycleIR.com,” notes Peter Hopkins, vice president at United Infrared.

Jim Seffrin, a co-founder of Jersey Infrared Consultants and the director of Infraspection Institute, believes the affordability and portability of thermal imagers continues to be the most important development in thermal imaging, with some stand-alone thermal imagers now priced well below $1,000 USD.

Application-wise, Seffrin notes that OGI has really taken off in the past couple of years. “Controlling greenhouse gases and recent changes in environmental regulations have made OGI a perfect tool for facilities seeking to combat unwanted emissions,” he explains. OGI provides a safe means for rapid detection of various types of gas leaks and/or venting, including sulfur hexafluoride, ammonia, methane, natural gas, and volatile organic compounds. The newly released Standard for Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) Using Infrared Thermal Imagers outlines practices and procedures for specifying and safely conducting these inspections. 

This story originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

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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