Infrared Thermography- Preventive Diagnostic For Your Shop

April 13, 2012

We first used a digital infrared non-contact thermometer back in 1993 to get some diagnostic insight into the failures we were having in my cold finished mill. Unscheduled equipment and electrical breakdowns were keeping us from profitability.

With this technology we could see mechanical failures developing before they shut us down.

When we built the mill in Georgia, the engineers never gave a minute of thought to the  operating temperature differences the equipment would have to endure compared to our experiences up North. We just  ‘knew‘ our problems were thermal, the failures ‘clustered’ in the summer months. How to prove it?

The first bearing we found running hot with our IR thermometer allowed us to plan for a repair rather than lose valuable production time.

That first preventive/proactive repair paid for our investment in what the boys in the shop thought was a “heat gun.”

But when we turned this technology to the electronics controls- that is when we hit the real pay dirt.

At a $3000 per circuit board and 5 days via air freight from Europe, our IR thermometer helped us justify to the stingy “Just say NO’” bean counters that air conditioned electrical enclosures would pay for themselves by reducing both downtime and  unbudgeted expenses to replace failed  sensitive electronic components.

And they did. The IR thermometer properly deployed helped us finally achieve our business plan.

Its much easier to achieve your business plan when your equipment is actually operating.

Today, IR thermometers are very affordable. But if I was managing a shop today, I don’t think that I’d be satisfied with just a “heat gun.”

Would you rather have just temperature numbers to base your decision on,  or a compelling image of the problem? (Images courtesy of FLIR)

This photo is worth a thousand words to the maintenance team, eh?

Electrical issues become pretty obvious using infrared imaging- don’t you agree?

Why wouldn't you want to know what this technology has to show you?

One of my favorite quotes came from one of the Dune series books by Frank Herbert- “Who knows what senses we lack that we might better see the world around us?” the hero asks.

Today I can answer that question.

“With Infrared Thermographic imaging-  we can see electrical and equipment failures before they happen.”

I can’t imagine trying to keep a shop running without it.

Video of IR imaging in your shop

Video- not just for the shop

Fluke IR

Photos


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