Introduction to Thermographic Analysis
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Overview of the Process
Thermographic analysis is a technique inwhich an infrared camera or device is used to photographically portray the surfacetemperatures of a component or machine, based on the radiation emitted by the object.Thermographic analysis provides a highresolution, non-contact means of monitoringthe condition of electrical andelectromachanical equipment. The primaryconcern of thermography is to monitor thetransfer of infrared heat radiation from anobject. The development of this technologyreplies upon sensing the differences in surfacetemperatures and displaying those differencesin black and white (B/W) or color images thatare displayed on a monitor, LCD or television.These images, or
can then becopied, photographed or recorded to further analyze the patterns of heat gain or loss.
Figure 1: Example of a handheld thermal imaging camera with LCD display (courtesy of Indigo Systems)
Thermographic analysis is an effective
maintenance tool to use inconjunction with other types of condition-monitoring processes. In general,maintenance strategies are placed into threemajor categories with adjoining parameters:
Breakdown (failure based)
Regular planned (time based)
Predictive (condition based)The development of thermography and thereasoning behind the methodology will bedescribed in the following section.
The use of a non-contact means of monitoringthe condition of electrical andelectromachanical equipment is valid for several reasons:
Contact between surfaces is avoided
Non-hazardous to the environment
Resistant to electromagnetic noise
Explosive environment approved
Conduct as a real-time process
Reliable due to the semi-infinite lifetimeexpectancyThe greatest benefit of thermography isrealized when it is used to identify a range of possible problems based upon the condition of various types of machines. Thermographyshould be used as an additional technologythat can aid in providing further information toa maintenance program. A solid foundation,such as a vibration-monitoring program,should be provided to which thermographycan then be an added benefit. Table 1 on thefollowing page indicates a list of many of thetypes of conditions found when assessing amanufacturing environment as well ascontributing factors that can be monitored. Ascan be seen from the table, thermography(temperature monitoring) is a well-matchedaddition to vibration analysis. The difference between thermography and temperaturemonitoring is that thermography gives anindication of varying temperature across agiven area. Temperature monitoring onlyassess a temperature at a given point wherethe temperature sensor is placed.