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Whatever the reason that a department first invested in infrared imaging, many managers find that the technology has a range of beneficial uses.
"Motors are always a big concern for us," Thomas says. "We have some large motors — 4,160 volts — inside our central plant. We like to keep a close eye on those and make sure there is no excessive heat. (Infrared thermography) is an easy way to catch things like shafts that are out of alignment and bearing issues."
While the technology can reveal problems with specific pieces of equipment within a facility, departments also are using it for bigger-picture applications.
"We didn't have any way to measure the heat loss and the heat gain in our buildings to find out about the quality of the windows and doors we have and the location of the leaks happening in our buildings," says Don Turner, facilities maintenance director with Okaloosa County in Florida. "So we started looking into different ways to detect and measure energy loss, and we came across infrared technology."
As Turner discovered, the results can be both alarming and convincing.
"When we looked at one of our older facilities that was built in the mid-'50s, it looked like the building was on fire on the infrared devices imaging screen because the windows are so poor over there and there's so much heat pouring out of the building," he says. "It gave us an image that allowed us to sell the value of replacing those windows, even though it was a six-figure project, because so much money was pouring out through the windows."