Infrared Imaging: In-House Insights

  March 21, 2011

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is in-house infrared imaging.

A decade ago, managers who needed infrared surveys had to find a qualified vendor and pay a premium price. The manager accepted the materials the vendor called a report, tried to make sense of it, and hoped the electrical and mechanical technicians fixed the right component based on the results. Rechecking the survey's results meant calling back the vendor and writing another check.

The entire process was out of the manager's control, and it cost a bundle. Not anymore. Contractors who provide infrared-imaging services remain valuable assets, given the experience they gained in using the technology. But instead of being simply bystanders, managers now participate in and control the process. Many departments have thermographers who handle infrared imaging in-house, making it easier for managers to incorporate infrared technology into their maintenance programs.

Advances in technology now make it possible for the value of infrared thermography to penetrate much deeper into departments and their activities than ever before. The impact of infrared imaging is similar to that of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), which have made tracking asset data much easier in recent years. Instead of pulling a dusty binder from a shelf, a manager can open a CMMS database and review inspections, verify technicians have made repairs, and even determine if technicians have conducted post-repair inspections.

Software for infrared-imaging systems also has evolved greatly. Analysis now can consist of multiple temperature data points within one image, overlay of isotherm palettes to highlight bands of temperature, and correction factors for surface emissivity and reflected background temperature.

These changes mean the information contained in a report gives managers more insight and value.


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