What’s Up with Wireless Thermal Imaging?
Jane Alexander | November 15, 2017
With the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), remote monitoring of equipment is becoming more common for control and operation.
Many maintenance tasks are still manual, however, requiring a technician to be present to gather data, especially on Tier 2 equipment. That scenario is changing.
Thermal imaging is an example of a condition-monitoring technique that has historically been carried out with handheld devices. According to Frederic Baudart with Fluke Corp. (fluke.com, Everett, WA), the emergence of connected, semi-fixed, wireless technologies has expanded thermal-imaging capabilities. He summed up several of those expanded capabilities in terms of why, where, and when.
Leveraging Thermal Imaging for Reliability
Thermal imaging can provide a wide range of benefits for a reliability program. For preventive and proactive maintenance, this technology can quickly make visible what might have been invisible problems within rotating- and other equipment systems. The areas of a plant where it can be leveraged are virtually endless, and the reasons for doing so are many, including:
• data collection
• mobility and flexibility.
Now, with the ability to capture images without a technician present, thermal imaging has become an even more versatile tool.
Contact-free, wireless technology is safer for personnel and processes because it is noninvasive and requires no shutdowns or downtime to install. It can monitor difficult-to-access equipment or large areas quickly. Valuable data can be saved and trended in the cloud.
A semi-fixed, wireless sensor can remain in place or be moved to different equipment depending on specific site requirements. Among other things, this technology can be used to monitor:
• motors and drives
• pumps and compressors
• process instrumentation
• small transformers
• pre-commissioning activities.
Wireless technology places even the most difficult-to-reach equipment within the range of a thermal imager, without the need for personnel to take the measurements.
Wireless, cloud-based thermal-imaging capabilities run 24/7/365, allowing visibility into a plant’s equipment systems and access to actionable data at any time. Authorized personnel are immediately notified of any condition changes in time to take corrective action to prevent damage/downtime. EP