The Benefits Of Infrared Thermography
The use of infrared thermography (IRT) makes economic sense, regardless of the size and operation of your facility. Over the years it has consistently shown unprecedented returns on investment. According to The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, for every dollar spent on infrared service there is a $4 return on investment for materials and labor from fixing the problem before it fails. This ratio is closer to $1 to $20 if loss to production, spoilage, labor, extra expenses, etc. is considered.
Save Energy and Increase Efficiency
Infrared is the only technology that can quickly see where excessive energy is being lost. Of course, overheating connections consume electricity, but usually nowhere near the magnitude of many industrial processes. Companies with boilers, furnaces, kilns and the like will reduce their energy costs by repairing and replacing missing and damaged insulation. Identification and removal of wet insulation in flat roofs will save heating and cooling costs. Losses around doors and windows can also save energy cost and prevent moisture from entering a building. Cryogenic liquids/gas leaks can also be quickly detected using both infrared and ultrasound technologies.
Reduce Unscheduled Downtime
The more efficient a company is at producing a product, the higher the profit margins will be. This places a great demand on reliable utilities and reliable equipment. Whenever there is an interruption in one or both of these, efficiency drops and so does profits. In most cases the repairs for broken equipment is only a small percentage of the real loses a company feels; labor and products. As you are probably aware, these losses can vary from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars per hour, and sometimes even higher. Using the predictive abilities of infrared inspections, your company will know when equipment is ready to fail so you will be given time to respond.
Increase the Effectiveness of Your Maintenance Personnel Efforts
Consider how much time maintenance personnel spend doing work that is oftentimes unnecessary. For example, during a planned shutdown, they may have their highly-skilled electricians open electrical panels and control cabinets and re-torque every wire connection or rebuild every motor contactor; a timely and often daunting task. Not to mention the chance that a new problem has be introduced from the tear-down of equipment. By comparison, infrared can locate loose and deteriorated connections in a fraction of the time without tearing down or rebuilding the equipment. With the results of an infrared inspection in hand before a shutdown, manpower and materials can be planned accordingly and problems fixed efficiently.
Many maintenance departments are being asked to perform more duties with less manpower. Incorporating an infrared program into the “maintenance loop” will enable you to work smarter with fewer resources. More companies are realizing this, which is why infrared is growing so rapidly.
We commonly hear from our clients, “Don’t waist your time inspecting that piece equipment or electrical panel. It’s brand new…you won’t find any problems”. The truth be told, we find numerous problems in newly installed equipment due to installation oversights, factory connections, and faulty components.
Each time a piece of equipment is repaired or a new component is brought on-line, thermography is the perfect tool to ensure its proper operation and give you the proper documentation to act upon warranty issues. Such a simple inspection policy will reward your company with tremendous gains in quality and reliability and, therefore profits.
Reduced Inventory Costs
Infrared predictive maintenance gives you advance warning of a potential problem and failure. In most cases, you have enough lead time to secure the parts necessary to correct the problem. Knowing what parts you need in advance allows you to reduce the number of “spare” parts sitting on shelves and collecting dust. Most maintenance departments would agree that their budgets could be better spent than on un-necessary inventory.
Equipment Design Improvement
Sometimes equipment that works well in Phoenix doesn’t perform well on the coast of Massachusetts or Long Island, because there are differing environmental influences (such as salt air corrosion). Some components might work well in a moderate climate like San Diego, but fail prematurely in Orlando. Design engineers do remarkably good jobs, but they cannot foresee and know all of the stresses and idiosyncrasies of individual equipment. However, once you start finding out what and where your problems are, you will be able to improve the specifications and design of equipment in your system that continually fails, or has the potential to fail. For example, one local utility in Vermont found that one type of distribution connector that they were using did not hold up well in weather that freezes the ground four feet down. The deep frost moves the substation pads and stresses the connectors. They now use different connectors and equipment that is more forgiving to these climatic conditions.