Schedule Infrared-Imaging Routes for Effective Preventive Maintenance

By Thomas A. Westerkamp  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Maintenance Departments Investing in Infrared TechnologyPt. 2: Infrared Cameras Uncover HVAC, Roofing IssuesPt. 3: Infrared Cameras Detect Dirty, Oxidized Electrical ConnectionsPt. 4: Using CMMS Turns Infrared Imaging Into SavingsPt. 5: This PagePt. 6: An Inside Look at Infrared Technology

The most effective way to use infrared imaging as part of a preventive maintenance (PM) program is to design and implement scheduled imaging routes through facilities that cover all equipment, electrical-distribution systems, and building-envelope components, especially roofs. Managers can set up the routes in the following manner:

• Select assets to include in the PM inspection.

• Select a spot from which the imaging will be recorded.

• Mark the asset location at which the instrument will be pointed.

• Assign a maximum allowable temperature limit.

• Create a record in the CMMS, including the four items above on the PM inspection route sheet.

• Assign a frequency for each asset inspection.

• Assign a start date for each inspection.

The first four of these steps are necessary for ensuring consistent readings. Managers can attach a sketch showing steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 on a layout to the route sheet as a way of aiding the technician performing the inspection, or a book of sketches can accompany the technician so it only has to be prepared once.

Frequency can vary among assets. For example, technicians might inspect equipment every one-three months. Building roofs, which do not change much, might require only spring and fall inspections, unless storms have caused unusual conditions or damage.

The first of these regular inspections establishes baseline data. Technicians compare subsequent readings to baseline readings to determine if they need to take further action.

For example, if a motor is on the route, the technician records its normal operating temperature. All motors emit heat when operating properly. In fact, the motors are equipped with internal fans designed to emit this heat to prevent overheating.

Dust or other airborne particles can plug vent openings or windings, inhibiting airflow and causing the motor to overheat. The maximum temperature rise printed on the nameplate shows the conditions the motor is designed to withstand. A technician who documents the maximum reading on the route sheet can tell whether the motor needs to be blown out or disassembled for cleaning before damage to windings and bearings occurs.

This example is the essence of PM and predictive maintenance generating both bottom-line and environmentally beneficial results. Using a traditional, outdated maintenance philosophy, technicians often would perform maintenance on a fixed schedule and not often enough, causing breakdowns, higher repair costs and energy waste.

But applying infrared technology allows technicians to perform maintenance only when needed to deliver maximum efficiency and reduced costs and energy use, resulting in a smaller facilities impact on the environment.

Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »

  posted on 11/1/2008   Article Use Policy

Related Topics: