Thermography is often looked at as something a technician does when they have nothing else to do. Many of my students are sent to infrared training because the plant is operating at a reduced rate, giving people time to do other tasks. There are a few problems with using infrared as a “fill-in” job, performed only part-time. One issue is that the largest problems occur when a plant gets busy; there typically won’t be time for the person to do infrared. Another issue with using infrared only part-time is staying sharp as the thermographer entrusted with performing the inspections
Infrared is no different than any other task you perform in life. Infrared thermography takes practice and constant use to stay accurate and on-point. If you only do a task once or twice a year you will not be very good at it – infrared is no different.
There are several ways a person can stay proficient in thermography. Formal training is essential in building a quality thermographer. The Snell Group provides Level l, Level ll, and Level lll training along with specialty courses in electrical, mechanical, and building applications. There are also courses tailor-made to fit the customer’s specific needs. Seminars and online training classes can also be a viable means of staying current in infrared.
Continued education is only part of keeping your infrared skill set sharp. Another great way to keep up your infrared skills is to venture out of your comfort zone. If you find you are only doing electrical inspections, go out with a friend, mentor, or co-worker and tag along on some mechanical inspections. If you have a mechanic with you, they will be able to answer any questions you may have about the equipment you are inspecting.
The same practice goes for building inspections, which can be very challenging. Start by inspecting your own house, or just walk down the street and image other buildings looking for thermal anomalies. When you see something that looks thermally odd, try to list all of the possibilities for the thermal pattern you see. If your company has more than one plant or site, go to other locations and do an inspection there.
In conclusion, if a person is to be expected to perform infrared inspections, that person should do whatever is necessary to stay active in thermography.
A skill not used is a skill lost.