Get Thermal Imaging Right

Get Thermal Imaging Right

How to Select and Maintain Thermal Analysis Hardware and Software?

Your choice of thermal analysis technology, technique, and software depends on the nature of your operation and local goals. 

For most industrial facilities or solar farms, we find that measuring relative temperatures using qualitative inspection techniques, such as a drone-enabled overview or facility scan, is sufficient for annual inspection purposes. This inspection process identifies most anomalies—cold or hot spots, loose connections, among others — to the degree necessary to inform further detailed investigation and, ultimately, any correction. 

The systems used for qualitative inspections are less expensive, easier to use, and require less stringent certifications than hardware and personnel for quantitative inspections. 

For qualitative inspections, a thermal imager that shows temperature gradients but does not calculate specific temperatures may be good enough. However, for quantitative thermal reviews, you need a radiometric imager that calculates spot temperatures at each pixel.

Consider the type of inspection, the accuracy required, and how the inspection supports the documentation needed when selecting the appropriate technology.

A hand-held thermometer provides a spot temperature reading but does not provide a thermal image that can be saved and compared visually. A thermal imager provides visual feedback but no specific, measurable temperatures, while radiometers offer accurate measurements and visual feedback.

Tune your selection based on your specific requirements and the effectiveness/cost trade-offs implied. 

IR thermographic equipment or systems are measurement systems. For consistency and accuracy, as with all essential measurement systems, we recommend you periodically recalibrate the imager or radiometer to ensure valid results. Do not undertake quantitative thermal analysis or inspection without a properly calibrated system. 

Consider the calibration requirements and challenges when selecting your thermography equipment. For example, if the equipment must be sent to the supplier for calibration each year, you incur additional costs and lower utilization of your equipment. Factor the calibration costs into the total cost equation. 

The high-accuracy IR thermal analysis systems’ up-front purchase price is relatively high, but so are the costs of misdiagnosis in a mission-critical environment. 

Regardless of the solution selected, if you manage the process with your internal resources, the system used is only as good as the training provided to your operators. Do not skimp on training. 

Given the various variables at play, from the training required for accuracy to maintenance costs, we recommend a total cost approach to understand the difference between various technologies and strategies. 

When selecting an approach (in-house versus contract) or a system, consider the value of accurately determining a quantitative temperature, reducing the diagnostic and repair cycle time, and the financial risk of unplanned outages when you miss a faulty component. 

Take a life-cycle total-cost approach to weighing the benefits and costs of each solution. A system that is pricier up-front may be the most cost-effective over time. 

Cheaper solutions are not affordable if they fail catastrophically.

View Thermal Imaging, Thermal Analysis, and Thermal Inspection as part of an overall plan
View Thermal Imaging, Thermal Analysis, and Thermal Inspection as part of an overall plan

What are the essential features in selecting your thermal imager?

To maximize the value of your camera, make sure to choose a brand and model that fits your needs – from features to service and support. Your job keeps you on the move all day, taking you up ladders, into crawl- spaces, and through a rugged work environment. An excellent thermal imaging camera should offer you: 

Which infrared camera brand should you choose?

A well-established brand should be able to offer you: 

Celebrating the benefits of a well-implemented thermal inspection program
Celebrating the benefits of a well-implemented thermal inspection program

What affects your ability to measure temperatures with thermal imaging cameras accurately?

Some of the most critical factors influencing thermal measurements are: 

A Thermal imaging inspection validates various industrial processes – heat staking, hot-plate plate welding, infrared welding, laser welding, plastic joining operations, ultrasonic welding, and vibration welding, among many others. You can check the quality of your assemblies or monitor the condition of tooling using this fascinating technology.

Resources and references for your thermal inspection journey
Resources and references for your thermal inspection journey

Resources And References

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