I am often asked about the benefits associated with electrical thermography. First I have to say that every installation is different and the benefits found by one site may not be true for somewhere else. The following are some benefits commonly attributed to electrical thermography.
Reduction of fire risk
Overheated components do pose a very real fire risk, and electrical fires are a lot more common than most people realise. Insurance companies often insist on annual inspections; this is because they understand the association between thermography and the reduction in claims due to electrical fires. With electrical fires there can be very significant secondary damage, and often if a fire does not spread it is down to nothing more than luck.
A secure electrical system provides peace of mind, and can ensure confidence throughout a facility. Nobody wants a failure, particularly an uncontrolled one. Something as simple as a loose connection can cause intermittent disturbance and is very undesirable. Nobody wants to get out of hours calls, or to be awake all night worrying about unnecessary minor issues.
Reduction in spare parts
Knowing the areas of a facility that have no issues, means less failures, and less spare parts. Some facilities have very large inventory of spare parts, reducing the stock frees up space, time, and makes funds available to other areas.
Reduction in manpower costs
Ideally, we want to direct manpower to just the areas where it is needed. Thermography identifies areas of concern, which can then be repaired. This way the resources are being put into the required areas only, freeing up manpower.
Reduction in downtime
Ok, when speaking to maintenance people I use the phrase “reduction in downtime”, but when talking to accountants I use the phrase “increase in uptime”. The two phrases mean the same thing, but the understanding of the individuals is different. An engineer will see “downtime” as a cost, and an accountant will see “uptime” as a benefit. It all basically comes down to the same thing, you either save money, or you make more money.
Reduction in insurance premium
Some insurance companies do offer a reduction in your insurance premium. Others list it as a requirement. However they expect the inspection to meet relevant industry standards, and it your responsibility to make sure anyone you hire as a consultant works to the highest standard. If you decide to bring thermography in-house, then you need to ensure that you meet relevant standards. This includes training and certification of personnel, camera calibration and using equipment suitable for the purpose. If you hire someone who does not meet industry standards, then you risk having any future claims knocked back.
Surveys can be undertaken during normal operation
Most items can be opened safely during operation (provided H&S precautions have been taken). A survey can be completed under normal conditions on most equipment, in fact normal load is desirable.
Increased equipment lifespan
Thermography detects problems long before failure occurs. As the problems are picked up earlier, the repairs can be simple, and the equipment has not deteriorated to the same level. It therefore extends the lifespan of the equipment.
Failures can be catastrophic, and can cause serious harm to personnel. Finding the problems early, means they can be taken out of service under controlled conditions and repaired. This means the failures are often repaired before they become a potential danger.
A failure in a process can often affect the quality of that process, and sometimes can lead to the destruction of a batch. Thermography helps prevent the failures that can affect quality.