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Infrared Imaging: Beyond Electrical Systems
All objects emit infrared radiation, and the amount of radiation an object emits increases as its temperature rises. Thermographic cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, causing warm objects to stand out clearly against cooler backgrounds on the camera display.
More maintenance and engineering departments are using thermal imagers to diagnose small problems in electrical equipment before the problems grow into expensive emergencies. But the applications for these imagers go beyond electrical systems:
- Maintenance and engineering technicians are using the technology to scan the exteriors of commercial buildings for heat leaks. The imagers allow them to see places heat is escaping through the shell, and they help managers build the case for spending money on insulation upgrades.
- Many international airports installed thermal-imaging cameras during the recent H1N1 flu outbreak to help identify travelers with elevated body temperatures as a first-level defense against the virus.
- Firefighters use the units to see through smoke and detect people, as well as to locate the base of a fire.
- Law-enforcement officials use them to track down suspects and find missing persons.
- Medical applications are expanding, since inflammation and the resulting increased temperatures accompany many diseases in the human body.
Infrared INSIGHTS: Benefits Abound
One major benefit of scanning electrical systems using infrared-imaging technology is the facility can remain energized and operational throughout the process.
Another benefit is many situations exist where technicians can scan electrical components, such as utility power poles, from a safe distance with no contact required and without the risk posed by exposing staff to unnecessary safety hazards.
If a thermal scan provides evidence of a loose connection or other irregularities, technicians can set up a scheduled procedure for shutting off power and repairing equipment at a designated time that does not disrupt facility operations.
— Michael Newbury