The inspections involve of the use of a thermal imager, or camera, to detect infrared radiation (heat) levels that could indicate issues in electrical or mechanical systems. This technology can provide a critical early warning of potential mechanical and electrical system failures, which are two major causes of industrial fires and explosions, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).1 2
How does it work?
Thermal imaging of electrical and mechanical systems can take the guesswork out of preventative maintenance and can help identify possible issues. Levels of heat in the images are represented by a colour spectrum that distinguish the hottest and coldest areas through a gradient. Hot spots, in thermal images, show areas of excessive heat and indicate increased resistance which could reveal possible defects such as damaged components or lubrication failures in electrical and mechanical systems. NFPA regulations recommend annual infrared inspections for commercial and industrial buildings.3
In electrical systems infrared thermography can detect:
- Faulty wiring
- Overloaded circuits
- Overloads and unbalanced loads
- Loose or deteriorated connections
- Inductive heating
In mechanical systems it can help identify:
- Overloaded systems
- Overheated motors, joints, belts, bearings and shafts
- Open circuits
Improve production and save money
Keep costs low by focusing on necessary repairs. Infrared thermography allows you to identify, prioritize and conduct repairs on an as needed basis. Because you can target specific current or imminent issues, there is no need for costly shutdowns of the entire operation. Temperature readings can also help you determine the urgency of actual repairs and eliminate hazards before they become costly safety issues and long before they halt production.
Infrared inspections should be performed by someone who is well-trained in reading thermographic scans. There are three levels of certification offered by several organizations in Canada and your technician should be at least Level 1 certified.
Whatever your focus – safety, productivity or cost-savings – the adoption of infrared technology offers a solution that can protect your business operations and employees. Talk to your broker about whether this technology is beneficial to your business.
1 Watkins, Stephen. 2017,. "Preventing the Five Major Causes of Industrial Fires and Explosions," Occupational Health & Safety, February 7, https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2017/02/07/Preventing-the-Five-Major-Causes-of-Industrial-Fires-and-Explosions.aspx?Page=5%20pages%204%20&%205
2 "Fire Safety Leader's Guide," Workplace Safety North, September, 2003, https://www.workplacesafetynorth.ca/sites/default/files/Fire%20Safety%20Leader%20Guide.pdf, p.4
3 NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, published by the NFPA, provides a listing of maintenance and equipment testing intervals. NFPA 70B.11.17.5 recommends an Infrared survey at least annually prior to shutdowns and more regularly, quarterly or semi-annually for example, if “loss experience, installation of new electrical equipment, or changes in environmental, operational or load conditions,” warrant it.
Department of Energy. (2018). Retrieved from Thermographic Inspections: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermographic-inspections
Flir. (2018). Retrieved from Why Use Infrared?: https://www.flir.ca/discover/why-use-infrared/
Infrared Inspection: Reduce Costs, Downtime, Failures, Equipment Damage. (2018). Retrieved from IR Analyzers: http://www.iranalyzers.com/EMBrochure.pdf
Infrared Thermography Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from Proline Inspections: http://prolineinspections.com/infrared-thermography-guide/
National Fire Protection Association. (2019). NFPA 70B Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. Retrieved from National Fire Protection Association: https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=70B
Overview of Infrared Inspection . (2018). Retrieved from Inspectioneering: https://inspectioneering.com/tag/infrared+inspection
Why are Electrical Infrared Thermography Inspections Important? (2018). Retrieved from Care Labs: http://carelabz.com/electrical-infrared-thermography-inspection-important/