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Avoiding costly plant downtime

Thermal imaging technology is a flexible way to pin-point process problems through heat detection, and offers an affordable means of maintenance in hard economic times, writes Hartley Henderson.

Ideally, action should be taken to identify defective components before problems and malfunctions occur. For example, a high level of heat emission may indicate an elevated level of stress, particularly for mechanical components. However, through the use of advanced thermal imaging technology, problems can be identified early, and preventive, planned and targeted steps taken.

Heat ‘hot spots’

Testo, which is based in the Melbourne suburb of Croydon South, markets a range of German-made industrial ther mography equipment that allows prob lems to be visualised while production processes continue.

The company recently launched the Testo 875 and 881 portable thermal imagers which general manager, Lucas Bogtstra, says enable even the smallest temperature differences to be identified with extreme accuracy.

“With automatic hot/cold spot recognition, critical temperatures are marked, ensuring precise error location on site”, Bogtstra said.

“Interchangeable lenses for specific applications mean that the right image is always visible in the imager display, and the integrated digital camera facili tates documentation. Interchangeable lenses provide flexibility and enable adaptation to the different sizes and distances of objects.”

According to Bogstrata, these new thermal imagers come with software to provide comprehensive analysis and eval uation of thermograms, and several infrared images can be analysed simultaneously. “Because documentation of the results plays an important part in preventative maintenance, the PC software enables multi-page thermog raphy reports to be created quickly and easily,” he said.”

Bogtstra also said that the 881, which replaces the 880 high-end thermal imager, features higher image quality than its predecessor due to a Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD) of under 80mK (the new 875 has a NETD of under 110mK). He also said that the 881 includes an optional headset with a speech function, so that during the inspection route of produc tion facilities, distinctive features can be stored with the infrared image together with a spoken commentary.

“As a major supplier of instrumenta tion to the food industry, Testo sees this portable type of thermal imaging equip ment as a useful addition into this industry where correct temperature can be a critical factor in reliable and efficient process control,” he said.

“Hot spots in process control can include overheating of bearings, spigots and high pressure oil for pneumatics.

“With a NETD of under 80mK, the 881 emphasises and visualises even the smallest temperature differences. A high temperature option can further extend the measurement of temperatures up to 550°C.”

Detection, prevention

Applications for the Testo 875 and 881 thermal imagers include testing of heating systems, detection/prevention of rising damp and mould, checks and targeted analysis of electrical circuit boards, monitoring of filling levels, monitoring of high voltage facilities, and quality assurance and process/production control including preventative maintenance.

The Testo 875 and 881 thermal imagers are competitively priced from $5,414, and a range of accessories is available including interchangeable tele photo lenses, lens protection glasses, an additional battery, fast charger, sunshield, high temperature filter, and a soft case.

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