Infrared Thermal Imaging

Thermal NDT is a non-destructive testing method for parts, materials and systems. It involves the measurement of surface temperatures as heat travels through, in and out of an object. Thermal imaging cameras allow us to determine internal defects through observing differences on the surface of the target as well as through target excitation.

We are able to create images over a wide area to capture data on heat flow without requiring any intrusion or machinery stoppage. No radiation emissions are required, instead, it only records infrared radiation from the material being inspected. Infrared thermal inspection is very safe and can be performed at any time of day.

Infrared Thermal for Use in Preventative Maintenance

Infrared thermal inspection can be used to perform numerous types of safety checks that can reduce risk of fire, damage or product failure. Electrical and mechanical failure typically is preceded by a period of heat increases across various components.

In the following we discuss specific examples of using infrared inspections for electrical and mechanical applications.

Tank Levels and Silos

Thermographic imaging is very effective in locating or verifying levels in tanks and silos. Infrared thermal imaging can show not only the liquid / gas interface, but can also reveal floating materials as well as sludge buildup.

Thermal Imaging for Electrical

A thermal imager can help check conditions that may compromise the integrity of your system. These conditions can include open circuits, overloads, unbalanced loads, fragile connections, inductive heating, harmonics, and defective electrical equipment.

Thermal imaging can be used to accurately measure the surface temperatures of various electronic components, PCBs, and other objects that may displays problems that wouldn’t ordinarily be observed.

Additionally, infrared thermal imaging can be an important tool in the design and manufacturing process, helping evaluate circuit designs and heat dissipation. As part of product testing and development, it can help avoid otherwise unseen design faults as well as mitigate expensive product recalls.

Power Usage - Infrared testing is useful in being able to determine which circuits on a switchboard are consuming the most power.

Hot or loose connectors - Thermal imaging inspection can be used to identify defective connections (‘hot joints’) preventing potential long-term damage.

Phase supply - Infrared testing can be used to check for unbalanced electrical loads.

Underfloor heating - We can use infrared thermal imaging to locate and map the network of sub-surface pipes and verify that the installation has met specification. The process can be used to assist in diagnosing the causes of poor performance areas as well as help locate the source of water leaks.

Overheated components - Our trained operators can find overheated substations, transformers and other electrical components. They use high-end thermal cameras similar to those employed by power companies to check overhead power lines and transformers.

Solar panels inspection - Combined use of thermal imaging cameras and UAVs allow us to comprehensively inspect faults. A range of solar module faults can be inspected from hot spots on the cells, diode failures, dirty modules, junction box heating, to fogging and coating issues. Additionally, we can inspect string and system faults which include wiring issues, charge controller issues, along with inverter and fuse failures. Importantly, thermal imaging can be used to inspect the racking and balance of the system to determine if the modules are mounted correctly.

Mechanical & Maintenance

HVAC performance - FLIR camera inspection can be used to check how much heat is being generated by equipment inside a building and how the air conditioning ducting cold be improved to deal with this, for example, in server rooms and around equipment racks.

HVAC maintenance - Infrared thermal imaging is useful to check for issues with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment such us the coils and compressors on refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

Welding inspection - Thermal imaging can be used inspect spot welds and linear welds in real time. Thermal imagers can monitor and validate the temperature of a weld throughout and after its creation.

Pumps and motors - Thermal imaging analysis can be performed to spot overheated motors before they burn-out. Additionally, bearing housings, seal flush systems and motor leads can be inspected.

Bearings and Housings - Monitoring and identification of hot bearings, conveyor belts, housing and other components can be spotted using a thermal camera.

Motor vehicles - Specific vehicle mechanical issues such as overheated bearings, engine parts with uneven temperatures, and exhaust leaks can be found using thermal imaging.

Hydraulic systems - Using infrared imaging to conduct regular reliability tests on hydraulic systems can determine heat, speed, pressure issues and other potential failure points.

Aircraft maintenance - We can conduct fuselage inspection for de-bonding, cracks or loose components. For aviation inspection using thermal imaging, a heat flow is applied to the part being inspected. This is done either by applying energy in pulsed form or in a harmonic modulated way. The temperature of the inspected component is then recorded and an analysis conducted. The resulting image displays the internal structure of the component along with any potential defects.

Pipes & ducts - For ventilation systems and pipe work, we can quickly identify blockages.

Non-destructive testing using thermal imaging - Infrared non-destructive testing (IR NDT) is a valuable process for detecting voids, delaminations, and water inclusion in composite materials. 

Greenhouses - Thermal cameras can be used to review issues in commercial greenhouses such as plant and flower nurseries.

Leak detection - As it is not always obvious where the sources of a leak is located, or it may be expensive and/or destructive to find out. FLIR Thermal Cameras make this process much easier, safer, and can give you data in real-time. It can be used to detect methane, sulfur hexafluoride, and many other industrial gases without having to shutting down systems during inspection.

Hydronic heating - We can check the performance of in-slab or wall-panel hydronic heating systems. As thermal imaging cameras do not require light or physical interaction with the sample object, hydronic heating blockages can be assessed without any interference.

Moisture and mold detection - Thermal imagers can locate moisture through variations in heat patterns. FLIR cameras can detect cooler areas in the wall, an indicator of water evaporation and potential area for mold.

Restoration & rectification - Once proper restoration has been done on a moisture damaged property, thermal imaging can be used again to check that the problem has been solved.

Insurance claims - As part of evidence for insurance claims, thermal imaging can play an important role in providing evidence of a wide range of problems in building systems and structures such as moisture intrusion, damaged insulation, overloaded / damaged circuits, faulty wiring, construction defects, poor electrical connections, and post-fire damage.

Energy Efficiency

Insulation defects - As cooling requires a lot of energy, it is critical that no external heat leaks in. We can perform insulation inspection using thermal imaging to assess insulation effectiveness, leaks and find gaps.

Air leakage - We can perform an energy audit using thermal imaging. Escaping air can be detected in HVAC as well as around windows, door frames and other building areas.

Hot water pipe and tank inspection - We can determine how much energy hot water pipes and tanks are losing to their environment.

Refrigeration - Inspectors can use a FLIR thermal imaging cameras to find defects in refrigeration and cool room insulation.

Heater inspection and performance - Infrared camera are ideal for analysis of  industrial furnaces, chemical heaters, coal-fired boilers furnaces and electric heaters.

Window Glazing - Thermal imaging can be used evaluate the performance of window films and double glazing.

Heat loss - Throughout the course of the day, the sun radiates its energy onto the roof and into the roof substrate of the building. At night, this stored energy is radiated off from the roof and into the external space - a process called radiation cooling We can determine which areas of a particular room or building are losing the most energy.

Heat transfer - As solar water heating (SWH) systems collect, store and transport heat, they are well-suited to being analyzed by thermal imaging. Effectiveness of heat transfer and temperature differentials can help understand the systems’ performance.

Waste heat - Thermal imaging can be used to find out which appliances are creating the most heat and, in turn, losing the most energy.