IR inspections help spot energy loss

Part 1 of 3: Because of the many facets of IR scans, this is the first of a three-part series which sheds light on an important part of a predictive maintenance program.

By David Manney July 27, 2016

Things are not always what they appear, and it is often what you do not see during a visual inspection that is causing the most damage. There are many ways to inspect equipment, but when you’re able to see it using infrared thermography (IR) it is an incredibly powerful maintenance tool. Not only can it help to detect problems in equipment at your facility before the time when it becomes a major issue, but it can also identify areas where energy savings are possible in your building.

The human eye is only able to see in visible light, but there is much more to be seen if you have the means to see it. Infrared thermography converts infrared energy (radiant heat) so that it can be seen and understood by the individual operating the IR scanning equipment. Infrared is not the same thing as visible light, but they are similar.

Through the use of an IR camera, an image can be created by converting radiant heat energy to visible light and then it is displayed on a screen. The amount of energy that is put out by any object is directly related to the temperature of the object. In essence, an infrared camera provides the user the opportunity to see the temperature of any object in a visual way.

The benefits of performing IR inspections at your facility are quite varied. Not only is it possible to check electrical equipment and rotating equipment, but a building analysis can also be performed to detect any energy loss that is occurring but is undetectable to the eye. The following are some of the conditions that are detectable through an IR inspection.

Electrical inspections: IR inspections are often performed to check the electrical systems at an industrial facility. It can detect many issues, from overloads and short-circuits to harmonics, loose or deteriorated connection, and even defective equipment.

Building analysis: Significant financial savings are often available when a building energy analysis is completed. IR scanners can detect areas of heat loss from settled or weak insulation in the walls and ceilings. It is also able to identify areas where outside air may be entering the facility, including around doors and windows. A building energy analysis is sometimes used to follow-up after contract work has been performed.

Foundation energy analysis: The foundation at your place of business can also be scanned with IR technology, locating any issues that would result in energy loss. This could include testing the hot water systems, ventilation, and insulation.

These options and more are available through infrared thermography. It can offer key benefits to your facility as a part of your overall preventative maintenance program. Those benefits could include an increase in equipment life, a reduction in unscheduled downtime, lower repair costs, fewer catastrophic failures, and no interruption time during inspection. Reduced losses may also result in lower insurance premiums.

With these benefits, it is easy to see why these types of inspections should be done regularly at your facility.

– David Manney is a marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on L&S Electric Watts New Blog. L&S Electric Inc. is a CFE Media content partner.

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