Analysis Infrared Non-Destructive Testing Reliability & Maintenance Center

Inspection Routes: Plan Ahead

EP Editorial Staff | March 20, 2018

Preplanned routes improve efficiency by serving as a roadmap for thermographic-inspection activities.

By Jim Seffrin, Infraspection Institute

Proper planning prevents poor performance. This concept can be applied to many disciplines, including thermography. One of the greatest appeals of the technology as a predictive-maintenance (PdM) tool is its wide range of potential applications. Without proper planning, however, the varied uses for thermography can cause one to lose focus and compromise program efficiency.

Preplanned routes improve efficiency by serving as a roadmap for thermographic-inspection activities. Consider the following points when setting up your routes:

• Whenever possible, use established routes from other PdM technologies such as vibration analysis.

• Routes should be of same class or hierarchy for subject equipment. As an alternative, establish routes based upon physical location.

• Be mindful of requisite travel times between locations.

• Establish routes to ensure that subject equipment will be under proper load.

• Never include more equipment in a route than can be accomplished in a single work shift.

• Any equipment that is not inspected should be noted in the final project report.

Ask These Inspection Questions

Like any visual-inspection technique, thermographers must actively concentrate on the imagery displayed by their thermal imagers. Contrary to popular belief, humans aren’t inherently effective observers. Because people tend to be casual in their observations, they frequently overlook subtleties. Subtle thermal differences often can be indicative of major problems. Thus, when imaging, technicians should always visually scan their monitors left to right and up and down while asking themselves these three questions:

• What am I seeing?
• Why am I seeing this?
• Is this normal/reportable?

While this approach may seem cumbersome at first, it will soon become instinctive and can help prevent personnel from missing subtle thermal patterns that point to serious issues. EP

Jim Seffrin, a practicing thermographer with more than 30 years of experience in the field, was appointed to the position of Director of Infraspection Institute in 2000. This article is based on two of his “Tip of the Week” posts on For information on workplace topics and infrared-related issues, as well as upcoming training and certification opportunities, email or visit


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