Proper operator training crucial in infrared condition monitoring

Building Science Thermography is the use of infrared cameras as a non-invasive means to inspect, diagnose and monitor building conditions. Through thermal imaging, structural anomalies may be revealed and addressed more easily than by conventional inspection methods, saving time and costs and providing a safer building environment.


Building Science Thermography is the use of infrared cameras as a non-invasive means to inspect, diagnose and monitor building conditions. Through thermal imaging, structural anomalies may be revealed and addressed more easily than by conventional inspection methods, saving time and costs and providing a safer building environment.

Condition Monitoring (CM), also called Predictive Maintenance (PdM), via infrared cameras enables CM technicians and materials & reliability engineers to monitor and verify optimum equipment operation — all in real time. Handheld thermal imaging systems find problems, prevent unscheduled downtime, identify corrective action and improve plant safety, saving time and money in a wide range of commercial and industrial facilities worldwide.

Once you have the right tools in hand, the key to their optimal use is training, ensuring that that a CM or Building Science program is as effective as possible. The Infrared Training Center headquartered in Boston has become the world leader in thermography course instruction, with training facilities throughout North and South America, Europe and the Asian Pacific Rim.

"A common mistake people make when selecting an infrared camera is that they don't understand the differences in resolution between detectors," said Bernie Lyon, certified ASNT NDT Level III Thermographer and Instructor. "A 120x160 detector has 19,200 pixels; however a 320x240 detector has four times the resolution at 76,800 pixels. This means you can see all targets much more clearly, while temperature measurement capabilities are much stronger. So, the application the IR equipment is going to be used for and the level of detail required, will help determine the best camera to get. At ITC we stress how using the right tools for the job will optimize the results and enhance the career path of our students."

Originally founded as an infrared camera operator training class, ITC has evolved over the past 25 years into a comprehensive infrared instruction organization, offering a predictive maintenance certification program that stresses operator training as well as infrared theory and applications. Courses offered include: complete thermography training and certification through three ANSI-recognized levels for those thermographers primarily focused on CM and research and development applications, as well as specialty instruction in applications such as electrical system and roof inspections, and building diagnostics.

ITC director Dr. Robert Madding is an expert in the field of IR thermography. He started in 1972 as a researcher doing airborne IR thermography of electric power plant heated water discharges, and rapidly aspired to learn and develop IR thermography applications throughout industry

While ITC is closely associated with infrared camera manufacturer FLIR Systems, Dr. Madding is quick to point out that the facility offers in-depth instruction on all types and brands of infrared equipment. "We will teach any brand of camera that a student brings to class." he explains, "And the camera operation part of the class is just one day.

"We gear the balance of our course material to train our students in the fundamentals of thermal imaging. We emphasize applications and provide a foundation of underlying concepts for successful implementation. We progress into the latest technological breakthroughs and how to usefully incorporate these to help thermographers' leverage this knowledge to the fullest into their careers."

The benefits from a properly implemented thermography inspection program are numerous and considerable. As students become professional thermographers, they have the ability to help their employers or clients save time and money by improving equipment reliability through better condition based maintenance programs — maximizing equipment life, improving safety and averting unscheduled shutdowns. Infrared building diagnostic inspections used to locate structural and environmental issues provide the means to a safer work environment through early detection of building anomalies.

Through comprehensive infrared training, professional thermographers build confidence in their skills — for the building sciences learning how to inspect, diagnose and resolve numerous potential building issues such as internal ceiling and wall damage, heating and cooling loss through improperly insulated areas and moisture damage that can lead to mold growth from plumbing or rain water issues.

Condition monitoring technicians and facilities managers use infrared cameras to great effect to locate and identify potential equipment trouble spots including: machinery that is malfunctioning or needs maintenance, poor electrical connections and obstructed circulation systems and pipelines — are all revealed via thermal imagery.

A typical training class at ITC lasts one week and consists of in-depth instruction sessions, hands-on IR camera techniques, real-world thermography application examples, and ITC's "tips and tricks" — information from experienced professionals in the field designed to give students an insider's perspective of some of the issues they may encounter and how to best address them. All courses thoroughly cover all topics recommended in American Society for Nondestructive Testing guidelines and much more.

A final exam is given at the end of the instruction week — and professional thermographers who wish to receive their level I, II or III certification must complete a successful field examination as well. Infrared thermography certification is written proof of professional infrared qualifications.

ITC infrared certification verifies a thermographers' successful completion of a training class that focuses on how to correctly operate an infrared camera in various environmental conditions, capture and collect quality thermal images and associated data, produce professional infrared inspection reports, and learn the techniques and parameters of infrared thermography for specific applications.

Author Information
Gary Orlove, is a Senior Instructor at the Infrared Training Center, and is the Editor and Publisher of "InfraMation," a monthly newsletter that serves the professional thermography community. He can be reached at or (800) 464-6372.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me