Infrared Thermography and Electric Motor Testing when utilized by trained and qualified technicians separately or together, save money.
Specifically their use enables corporations to reduce the risk of unscheduled downtime, increase asset availability and up-time, save money, conserve energy, ensure quality and improve safety. The list of benefits may sound optimistic but, when properly used, the returns on the investments are huge.
Thermography is the process of using a specialized, electronic infrared camera to detect thermal radiation (heat) emitted by an object. The technology allows skilled thermographers to locate thermal anomalies—abnormal patterns of heat invisible to the eye—that indicate possible failure modes, faults, defects or inefficiencies within a system or material.
While infrared cameras are relatively simple to use, interpreting the findings is more complex. With training and experience, however, remarkable information can be extracted from the thermal images that can help you better maintain systems and equipment, and monitor or improve the quality of products.
A few examples of where infrared is applied:
- Electrical Systems – Thermography is widely used to detect faulty electrical connections or overloaded circuits. The cost of preventing failures in electrical systems is often astronomical. For instance most manufacturing processes are dependent on electrical energy, and a failure can cost literally tens of thousands of dollars for every minute they are down. Using thermography many, if not most, electrical problems can be found and then scheduled to be repaired long before they would otherwise fail.
- Mechanical Equipment – Infrared can locate abnormally warm motors or possible bearing failures. Infrared is a powerful tool for assessing the condition of motor assets. By no means will it be the only tool used, but in conjunction with other technologies, thermography allows for confirmation and advance warning of problems prior to failure.
- Fluid Systems – Thermal imaging can find line blockages, storage tank levels, diagnose heat exchangers or pipe temperatures. Once a thermographer understands the basics of heat transfer, a whole host of applications begins to open up. The kinds of diagnostic problem solving possible with fluids is remarkable and the returns immense. Typically, for instance, there are no other means of verifying tank levels and the costs for not knowing a level range from costly inconvenience to dangerously catastrophic.
- Building Applications – Thermography has long been used for building diagnostics work. Test insulation performance, verify insulation placement, locate missing insulation, and find air infiltration or moisture damage. The potential for quality control of the installation of insulation is obvious but, in conjunction with the use of a blower door, the technology can also predict the performance of a building. Recently one of the large growth areas for thermography has been the detection of moisture in structures and the verification of flood damaged buildings after the restoration process.
- Low-Slope Roofs – Thermography can detect wet roof insulation that leads to premature roof system failure. The cost of premature failure and reduced life cycle in roofs is staggering. The cause is most often trapped moisture, which is readily detectable with the right conditions, equipment and training. It is not unusual for a thermal imager to pay for itself, literally, on one large roof inspection job!
- Nondestructive Testing – Find de-lamination and moisture defects in composite materials. The aerospace industry, in particular, has grown to rely on lightweight composite materials from the space shuttle to commercial aircraft. Defects, however, can render composites dangerously weakened. Various active and passive thermal techniques can be employed to locate these before a serious situation results.
Electric Motor Testing
Electric Motor Testing is the process by which, through the use of specialized electrical test equipment, the health of an electrical motor and its associated electric circuitry can be measured, quantified, stored, analyzed and trended. This information can help maintenance personnel anticipate and identify fault conditions that, left undetected, often lead to the premature failure and/or loss of important assets.
EMT analyzes six distinct areas that are critical to the proper operation and health of electric motors; these include power quality, winding insulation, power circuit, stator health, rotor health and eccentricity. Some types of testing should be done on-line (with the motor in operation) while other tests should be done off-line (with the motor de-energized).
Manufacturers of motor testing devices have assembled systems incorporating many individual pieces of test equipment that, to various degrees, accurately and quickly capture motor circuit data to help determine motor health. Considering how essential motors are to all aspects of our life today, EMT has moved into a predominant role in monitoring their condition.