Thermal Imaging Cameras

Thermal imaging equipment has become one of the most highly valued tools for diagnostic and preventative maintenance in many industrial applications. Thermal imaging sensors are based on infrared technology, but unlike traditional infrared thermometers they record thousands of temperature spots simultaneously and report them back as a visual representation rather than a direct reading.

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What is Infrared Thermal Imaging?

Thermal imaging is the representation of an objects heat as an image. This is achieved through the use of infrared technology. A thermal imaging camera records the intensity of radiation in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum and converts it into a visible image.

Thermal imaging has evolved into one of them most valuable diagnostic tools for many industrial applications. By detecting anomalies often invisible to the naked eye, thermography allows corrective action to be taken before costly system failures occur.

Numerous industries have discovered the advantages of incorporating thermal imaging cameras into their maintenance programs.

What is Infrared?

Simplified, infrared is a type of light that is invisible to the human eye. It is a type of electromagnetic radiation that is emitted at wave length too low for the eye to detect meaning it is outside of the visible spectrum. Any object that has a temperature above absolute zero (-273°C) emits radiation within the infrared region. Whilst we cannot see this radiation we feel it in the form of heat, the hotter an object is the more infrared radiation it emits.

Infrared Thermometers vs Thermal Imaging Cameras

Infrared thermometers use this technology to relay the temperature of a single spot and present a single reading. Thermal imaging follows this same principle but many times over. Every pixel on the display is a separate infrared measurement. A camera with a resolution of 80 x 60 pixels is performing 4,800 measurements at the same time.

The benefit of this is speed and simplicity. If you were using an infrared thermometer to test for overheating parts of a system you would have to focus on each component one by one and record the reading. With a thermal imaging camera you can compare the whole system at the same time. More importantly you receive a visual representation of the heat on the display which immediately highlights any potentially problematic areas which you can then focus on.

Preventative Maintenance

The most common use for thermal imaging cameras is as part of your preventative maintenance processes. By using the camera to gain a visual representation of the heat of different components in a system it becomes obvious when a junction or induvial component is faulty and beginning to overheat. This allows you to diagnose and fix issues before they damage their surroundings or the system. Our article on “Thermal Imaging for Industrial Application – Preventative Maintenance” covers this in more detail and demonstrates its use on electrical, mechanical and other types of system.

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