Thermography is the process of measuring and capturing radiation and translating it to a one or two-dimensional form that can be displayed, i.e. a temperature display reading on a screen. The process is implemented with the use of thermal cameras, special image capture equipment designed to sense infrared changes in their range and depth of view. The information is then processed with built-in computers in the camera to translate the information and output the data in a format that is comprehendible.
A Key Science and Measurement Tool for Today’s Manufacturing
Thermography is regularly used in manufacturing environments as well as test centers and research facilities when applied in an industrial setting. The equipment and their output readings can be used in a diagnostic fashion as well as for safety monitoring and production efficiency measurement.
This is a commonplace application when dealing with industrial equipment and manufacturing involving high heat, both in terms of the creation process as well as safety insulation to prevent the temperature from escaping and causing damage. The same can also be applied to assembly lines managing production with heat and cold processes as well as with research labs and contained test environments.
Over time, the application of thermal cameras in production systems has helped deliver greater and greater control over temperature-related manufacturing, which more than pays for the capital cost of the equipment installed versus relying on human monitoring or analog sensors.
Whether the use involves finding temperature loss problems such as weak insulation issues, making sure operations did not exceed heat or cold parameters or finding out the extent of products before temperature affects them, thermal cameras have paid back their investment with dividends. This in turn has boosted the science and evolution of cameras, contributing to the advancement of their capabilities and more importantly, the greater sensitivity of their measurements in challenging environments.
Understanding the Differences in Output Impacts Data Meanings
Two-dimensional applications of thermography generally observe and capture data on two planes: length and width. This type of application result is oftentimes sufficient for monitoring purposes where basic observation is needed, i.e. from a general surface perspective. The related camera equipment tends to be smaller units that only have to observe what is physical within in their line of sight and produce a related visual of the same.
On the other hand, more complex applications require the ability to also measure depth, whether in cavities or literally the core of a target. While thermal cameras do not automatically have Superman x-ray vision features, the more advanced units are able to see through softer, less-dense materials to identify temperature changes behind such material. A field application would involve thermal cameras used by firefighters to find and locate hotspots not visible to the naked eye, but still burning behind structure walls.
Interference Can be a Big Problem Without Expertise
Thermography is not perfect as applied science. Various materials can create interference that blocks or interferes with related readings. Metallic surfaces, for example, are reflecting. Infrared emissions don’t absorb into metal right away, often reflecting off and “bouncing” to other locations. This can cause disruption and false readings about thermal emissions when not taken into account. Metal surfaces can also end up being conductive when their temperature rises, passing on and emitting their own heat emissions after a while, further complicating matters. A trained technician will look for these variances and sources of interference when taking measurements, discounting their data from the overall observation to provide an accurate interpretation of the results collected.
Training Makes a Significant Difference
Thermography testing and monitoring cannot be applied by simply buying a thermal camera and pointing it at a location or temperature source. The position of the equipment, the distance from the measured source, the adjustments and baseline settings, and the lenses used all make a difference in measurement output. All of this and much more technical knowledge requires specialized training to apply correctly. As a result, thermography is most often applied by technicians who have been specifically prepared to know how to use the measurement equipment as well as what to avoid to not end up with bad, useless data, or worse, contributing to a production mistake in a facility.
Applying the Science for Optimized Results
In many cases where thermography is started for the purposes of monitoring and safety, the ideal application involves a scheduled approach of application and measurement recording on a regular basis. Equipment can be placed in static locations for long-term tracking, or teams can apply the equipment temporarily as they perform their measurement rounds in a facility. Things as mundane as logging activities, posts of observation, times, and readings of measurements and deviances all matter, especially when trying to spot fluctuations that could be signaling environmental or operational problems over time.
Working With an Experienced Partner
Connors Industrial has been providing thermography services as well as building professional and industrial-grade monitoring systems for clients for years. Their certified technicians work with the latest equipment, thermal cameras, and software to produce some of the best thermography services in the industry. When your plant or facility needs a proper head start with implementing thermography systems and equipment, or you need a team with the specialized training to provide accurate and objective measurements, Connors Industrial should be in your top consideration. From helping start-up, manage and maintain complex thermal camera monitoring networks to periodic field examinations and reviews, Connors Industrial is your answer to applied thermography.