Maintenance Q&As

What are the benefits of infrared imaging?

Answered April 22 2019

Unlike some maintenance metrics, infrared radiation (IR) can’t be seen or heard through normal means. While some might think that makes it a useless metric to measure, infrared analysis is actually super useful for checking temperatures, especially when you’re comparing the temperature of an asset to another asset or the current temperature vs. previous temperatures.

Interestingly, infrared imaging was first popularized by firefighters because they could see differences in temperature in burning buildings that indicated the presence of people inside. Now, infrared imaging is a great tool for assessing temperature fluctuations in all kinds of equipment.

Preventive action
One particularly useful feature of infrared imaging is the ability to take preventive action for parts that would normally fail under too high- or too low-temperature conditions.

Let’s say, for example, that a facility sets up an infrared camera on a machine’s bearings. Normally, the bearings would heat up and fail once they reached a certain temperature, causing a machine failure. With the infrared setup, however, the facility can assess bearing temperature and figure out a time to perform maintenance prior to that breakdown. Money saved!

Allows in-depth diagnosis
With some parts, it’s obvious when something is going wrong – gears might make a loud noise, for instance, or a motor goes quiet. With other systems (like sanitation systems or piping), it’s more difficult to find the culprit of issues.

Infrared imaging allows technicians to find the source of some problems that wouldn’t otherwise be discoverable. For example, technicians can use infrared analysis to check the location of mold in buildings, which might not be normally obvious to the naked eye.

It’s important to realize the cost of an infrared imaging system as well – they require rigorous training to use properly and have some important limitations (like being unable to see through glass and water). Nevertheless, an infrared imaging setup can be invaluable when our normal senses are unable to determine the root cause of a problem.

Asset Management Questions & Answers