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Thermography is a condition-monitoring technique that uses infrared imaging to detect and diagnose problems with machinery. You can use thermography to identify issues with bearings, gears, and other moving parts, and can help maintenance technicians troubleshoot problems before they become serious. By using high-resolution thermal cameras, technicians can locate hotspots on machinery and identify potential failure points. This allows for proactive maintenance and reduced downtime. Thermal imaging cameras are relatively affordable and easy to use, so thermography is becoming an increasingly popular method of preventive maintenance.

What is Thermography?

Thermography is among the most beneficial noninvasive condition monitoring techniques for many different kinds of manufacturing facilities. Machine equipment warms up in places where anything is wrong, much like humans have a fever when their bodies fight off an infection. As a result, gathering information on hotspots via thermography is incredibly helpful.

Thermography uses a device that is essentially a digital camera calibrated to read heat instead of light to measure temperature differences. A thermogram, a representation of temperature dispersion, is the final result. Almost all materials used in typical manufacturing activities can be diagnosed by their heat since thermography readers can record any heat emissions greater than -450ºF (-268ºC). Hotspots, or thermal anomalies, notify maintenance personnel of a problem.

Thermography for Condition Monitoring and Maintenance

Predictive maintenance and condition monitoring both use thermography. You can utilize thermography condition monitoring for checking bearings and belts, monitoring electrical rooms, energy audits looking for heat loss, fluid handling systems, leaks, panel boards, rotating motor monitoring, boiler operations, and steam system monitoring. Many technicians use this method to identify the precise location of an equipment or machine problem.

What are Thermal Anomalies?

Unwanted hotspots called thermal anomalies warn technicians of impending equipment failure and provide them time to make repairs. As a result, thermography is a very efficient kind of predictive maintenance that lowers costs, reduces downtime, and keeps your equipment operating at peak performance for longer.

A thermal anomaly indicates that one or more components are failing or malfunctioning. It can identify issues with many components, including:

  • Overworked and overheated motors
  • Excessively loose or excessively tight bearings
  • Worn gear structures or unlubricated gears
  • An incorrectly aligned belt
  • Electrical leakage from switches, connectors, or cables
  • Incorrect operation of other electrical components
  • The friction or electrical current of any other component causing excess heat

Thermography is also highly effective at finding areas with insufficient heat, such as:

  • Three-phase power sources using less than optimal power supplies.
  • The incorrect temperature setting on plastic fabrication equipment.
  • Temperatures not reached during welding and metalworking operations.
  • Semiconductors, chemicals, organics, or other components not at the right temperature.
  • Deficiencies in peak temperatures for ceramic, glass, and enameling kilns.
  • Insufficient or uneven heating of other temperature requirements.

Several industries from manufacturing plants to those with heavy equipment use thermography. It is incredibly effective for inspecting equipment while it is in use without performing invasive testing. Additionally, thermography can provide quality control for many manufacturing processes. For instance, precise temperatures are necessary for hot-plate welding, vibration welding, heat-staking, laser welding, plastic welding, ultrasonic welding, and plastic fabrication.

Benefits of Thermography

By using thermography, you can prevent unexpected malfunctions, which may impede or hinder operations, or even start a fire. With thermography, you can measure heat emitted by an item to detect problems before they become disastrous.

Easy Identification of Thermal Anomalies

A wide range of factors can create a thermal anomaly, most of which may go unnoticed by the operator or technician in day-to-day use. When thermography is used, excessive heat is detected due to severe loads, incorrectly sized components, load imbalances, or resistance resulting from improper connections.

Prevent Mechanical Problems

Furthermore, using thermography can help you identify mechanical defects related to friction, such as faulty lubricants, misalignment, and other issues.

Reduce Maintenance Costs

By utilizing thermography, you can reduce the cost of business interruptions brought on by breakdowns, downtime, electrical fires, issues related to electrical and mechanical issues, and more. As a result, it saves time and money, which is advantageous for the whole facility. Additionally, catching issues earlier helps reduce the cost of repairs.

Minimize Unplanned Equipment Downtime

A primary goal of most maintenance teams is to reduce unplanned downtime due to the high cost and interruption of production. Monitoring equipment health with thermography may identify issues far before failure occurs, allowing maintenance workers sufficient time to arrange an inspection, investigate, and, if needed, resolve the issue.

Optimize Asset Reliability

Temperature monitoring increases equipment reliability, as well as provides data to drive continuous improvement of production processes. Also, using thermography to check and investigate problems improves the safety of workers and management by reducing overall risk.

A Vital Component of Condition Monitoring

Thermography offers numerous advantages as a condition-monitoring strategy. The benefits of reduced downtime and catching potential failures early should be enough to implement this in your organization today. If you’re concerned about the influx of data to analyze and monitor, lubrication management or Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software can help. With Redlist, your condition monitoring sensors integrate with the software to trigger automated workflows to address identified problems.

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