INFRARED INSPECTION

Safety  -  Integrity  -  Quality

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70B recommends every commercial and industrial facility have an IR survey every year.  

How Often Should an Certified Infrared Survey Be Performed?

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recognizes the benefits of infrared surveys to reduce accidents, save lives, and minimize unplanned shutdowns. The publication NFPA70B recommends that inspections be performed annually, and more frequently for equipment with a failure history and equipment that is critical to operation.

Most of our Infrared clients perform annual inspections. Of those clients who are diligent with follow-up repairs, we have seen a steady decline in thermal problems in their facilities over the years and reduced downtime of equipment.

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Using Infrared (IR) windows allow thermographic inspections to be performed at any time without removing equipment covers or panels.  As a preventive maintenance tool thermography is a time saving tool allowing certified thermographers to determine load, connection, component fatigue, over-heating or phase problems.  IR windows work well in both low-voltage and medium-voltage distribution equipment.  Our highly skilled team can provide a proposal for window(s) placement and installation.

Benefits of Certified 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 return on investment. According to The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, for every dollar spent on infrared services there is a $4 return on investment (ROI) 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.

1.) 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 do profits. In most cases the repairs for broken equipment are only a small percentage of the real losses 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. If you use the predictive abilities of infrared services, your company will know when equipment is ready to fail so you will be given time to respond.

2) Acceptance Testing

We commonly hear from our clients, “Don’t waste your time inspecting that piece of equipment or electrical switchboard. 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, infrared survey is the perfect tool to ensure its proper operation and give you the proper documentation to act upon warranty issues. A simple infrared survey policy will reward your company with tremendous gains in quality and reliability and therefore, profits.

 

3) Reduced Inventory Costs

 

Infrared survey predictive maintenance gives you advance warning of a potential problem and/or 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 would be better spent than on unnecessary inventory.

4) Equipment Design Improvement

 

Sometimes equipment that works well in Las Vegas 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 a remarkably good job, 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.

 

5) 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 may have been 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 survey 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.

6) Prevent Loss of Production

When equipment failures occur during production runs, product is often lost and production runs have to re-start. This can be time consuming and labor intensive. By locating potential equipment problems during infrared inspections and performing repairs, loss of production may be reduced
and sometimes completely eliminated.

 

7) Lower Insurance Rates

Reducing loss prevention cost helps reduce insurance rates. Insurance companies recognize infrared surveys as a means for reducing loss prevention costs. Many insurance companies recommend or require annual infrared surveys. Some insurance companies will reduce annual premiums if periodic thermographic inspections are conducted.

 

8) Lower Safety Incidents

Safety is of utmost importance for every company. Unexpected accidents from electrical and mechanical failures that may result in fires, explosions or other catastrophic failures result in countless accidents annually. This may lead to multimillion dollar lawsuits and increases in insurance premiums to companies. Infrared inspections help reduce these unexpected accidents.

 

Advantages of using Infrared Survey

  • Reduce Downtime

  • Increase Equipment Life

  • Lower Risks

  • Comply with Electric Codes

  • Lower Repair Costs

  • Increase profits

  • Save on Insurance

  • Prevent Catastrophic Failures

  • Save Lives!

 

What Electrical Distribution Equipment Should Be Checked?

  • Utility substations, transformers and feed poles

  • Main incoming services, plant main knives

  • Capacitor banks

  • Main switchboards and disconnects

  • Main distribution panels and main disconnects

  • Uninterruptible power supplies

  • Generator controls and transfer switches

  • Main I-Line panels

  • Lighting and receptacle panels

  • Disconnects and combination starters

  • Service disconnects for motors

  • Machine control panels