Thermography: an Important Tool in Electrical Preventative Maintenance

By Mike Reiser, Project Manager

As a contractor, we know that a worst-case scenario for a business, especially in an industrial setting, is an outage. Outages due to equipment failure can cause costly shutdowns, down time and lost revenues. One way that we help our clients avoid this is thermal imagining. 

Thermal imaging is a useful tool in an electrical maintenance program. They are the first line of defense for prevention and help us determine if maintenance or repair needs to be performed before the equipment fails and causes an outage. Changes in temperature are a key parameter in monitoring and since thermal imagery is non-contact, a thermographer can quickly measure equipment temperatures with out disrupting operations.

Unlike an infrared thermometer that only captures temperature at a single point, a thermal imager capture’s an object’s entire temperature profile as a two-dimensional picture. The technician can then review both critical components and the entire unit’s surface heat or compare a known good unit to a problematic one and quickly determine where to investigate. The images can also be stored and uploaded to a central database. 

In addition to avoiding a costly outage or shutdown, thermal imaging also:

  • Increases equipment life expectancy

  • Reduces fire risks and safety hazards

  • Reduce equipment repair costs and replacements

  • Prevents sudden machine failures

  • Reduces insurance premiums and lowers energy costs

  • Helps to predict end of life equipment issues such as motor bearing replacement 

Once a technician completes an inspection, the images can be analyzed and summarized into a report for the client. The reports can accurately track the thermal performance of equipment over time with charts and graphs. This information helps to better predict when equipment will need maintenance, allowing the client to plan ahead and schedule shutdowns for maintenance, rather than being forced to shutdown because equipment has failed. 

Mike Reiser is a Project Manager at VEC and is a Level 2 Thermographer.