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Thermography Making thermal imaging part of predictive maintenance and commissioning process makes sense, PGS uses thermal

cameras during the commissioning and testing phases of power station work as well as during preventative cycles. For plant engineers finding new ways to avert costly failures in their facilities is practically second nature, particularly when it comes to industrial maintenance, thermographic imagery is one approach that's become much more popular over the last 10 years or so, used as a condition-monitoring technique, thermal imaging enables users to identify potential areas of equipment failure and convert unscheduled down time into scheduled maintenance. As part of a comprehensive preventive or predictive maintenance program, it>s a good practice to create a regular inspection route that includes scanning systems associated with critical assets those whose failure would threaten people, property, or product. That way, you'll have baseline images for comparison which will help you determine whether or not a higher or lower temperatures is unusual and requires repair or further investigation as well as verifying that repairs are successful. Whenever a thermal imager is used and a possible problem is located we document the findings in a report that includes a digital photograph as well as a thermal image, this image contains reference temperatures as well as spot temperatures that assist in the interpretation/diagnosis on the asset, we find this best way to communicate problems we find and to suggest possible solutions with visual presentation. With the aid of a handheld P640 thermal imager from FLIR PGS can check all electrical panels for loose or corroded connections, scan critical electrical systems including motor control centres, motor/drive combinations, pumps, fans, compressors, industrial gearboxes, and high voltage transformers. Motor control centers. Thermal imaging can be used to evaluate the operating condition of the components within motor control centre (MCC) by comparing their relative temperatures under load. A typical MCC is a standalone arrangement with one or more combination motor control units for controlling a motor in a specific application. Each unit has an external disconnect, branch circuit, motor overcurrent protection and a magnetic motor starter along with pilot devices located on the panel door. A complex MCC can contain bus bars, controllers, starters, contactors, relays, fuses, breakers, disconnects, feeders, and transformers. PGS use FLIR P640 thermal imager to scan all components and connections within MCCs with the enclosures open and the equipment running. Measuring the load at the time of each scan so that you can properly evaluate your measurements against normal operating conditions using power quality analysers that also record data, this data is then added to the thermal report thus allowing the assessing engineer to make recommendations. In general the engineer undertaking the survey is looking for components that are hotter or cooler than similar components under similar loads as well as using past experience to identify broken or undersized wires, defective insulation, faulty, corroded, loose, or over tightened connections as well as electrical unbalance among phases. The engineer is looking for connection-related hot spots usually (but not always) appear warmest at the spot of high resistance that cool with distance from the hot spot. Unbalance, whether normal or out of specification will appear equally warm throughout the phase or part of the circuit that is overloaded. Harmonic unbalance creates a similar pattern, cooler-than-normal circuit or phase might signal a failed component.

Since all electrical currents produce some heat, temperature alone is not an indicator of problems. Equally, warm conductors in all three phases represent a good pattern. Differentiation between phases should be investigated. Motors. Thermal images of electric motors reveal their operating conditions as reflected by their surface temperature, capturing infrared temperature measurements of a motor>s temperature profile as a two-dimensional image. Unlike an infrared thermometer that only captures temperature at a single point, a thermal imager can capture temperatures at thousands of points at once, for all of the critical components: the motor, shaft coupling, motor and shaft bearings, and the gearbox. Ideally, you should check motors when they are running under normal operating conditions. All motors should list the normal operating temperature on the nameplates and while the infrared camera cannot see the inside of the motor, the exterior surface temperature is an indicator of the internal temperature, as the motor gets hotter inside, it also gets hotter on the outside surface.

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This thermal image as well as a normal image showing 3 cool motors driving water pumps. Remember that each motor is designed to operate at a specific internal temperature. The other components should not be as hot as the motor housing, thus, an experienced thermographer who is also knowledgeable about motors can use thermal imaging to identify conditions such as inadequate airflow, impending bearing failure, shaft coupling problems and insulation degradation in the rotor or stator in a motor. Pumps, fans, and compressors. Used in combination with other predictive analysis techniques such as vibration monitoring and ultrasound and power quality analyzers thermal imaging is especially useful for monitoring motor-driven rotating equipment such as pumps, fans, and compressors as well as generators. Since many impending failures are accompanied by overheating the use of thermogrpahy to capture a two-dimensional image representing the apparent surface temperatures of equipment (apparent temperature can differ significantly from actual temperature, due to the emissivity of a material>s surface as wells a s reflections from surroundings.). Monitor rotating equipment while it is in operation and under load, look for hot spots and pay special attention to differences in temperature between similar units operating under similar conditions. On pumps and fans, get thermal profiles of the housings scans that are likely to reveal any problems with bearings or seals as well as scans of shaft couplings or drive belts and sheaves. For a compressor, use several images, if necessary, to get a thermal profile of the entire unit.

On a pump, a difference in temperature along a seal or gasket is the signature of a failure. A spot on the housing adjacent to a bearing may signal an impending bearing failure, although you probably won>t be able to ascertain the root cause from a thermal image alone, perhaps there is a lubrication problem or maybe misalignment in the drive. An overheating bearing on a fan also signals a problem, but a thermal image alone is not definitive. The root cause could be a lack of lubrication, the wrong lubrication, drive misalignment, or unbalance in the fan itself. Further investigation may be required. Many industrial and most building-system fans are belt-driven as are some pumps. According to Snell Infrared, Montpelier, Vt., a belt-and-sheave drive that is designed and installed correctly generates very little heat, and the belt moving through the air tends to cool it near ambient temperature. Overheating, detected by thermography, reflects a problem with the drive's design or installation, perhaps mismatched belt and sheaves, or misalignment. Vibration analysis and/or an alignment check will confirm the latter condition. Compression produces heat while expansion cools, so a thermal imager can see a heat machine like a compressor as it works. To check the efficiency of compressors look for belt slippage on cooler fans, shaft misalignment, bearing problems, and blocked or leaking valves. Loose or corroded electrical connections. You can use thermal imaging to troubleshoot loose, overtight, or corroded connections in electrical systems by comparing the temperatures of connections within panels. Check panels with the covers off and power at ideally at least 40% of the maximum load. Measure the load, so that you can properly evaluate your measurements against normal operating conditions. Transformers. Most transformers are cooled by either oil or air while operating at temperatures much higher than ambient. In fact, operating temperatures of 65C for oil-filled units and 150C for air-cooled transformers are common. Nevertheless, problems with transformers often manifest themselves in overheating or hot spots, making thermal imaging a good tool for finding problems. The following discussion focuses on using thermal imaging to monitor external and internal conditions of oil-filled transformers. Other diagnostic technologies, including built-in temperature and pressure gauges, may be more reliable for assessing the internal conditions in dry transformers. Keep in mind that like a standard electric motor, a transformer has a minimum operating temperature that represents the maximum allowable rise in temperature above ambient, where the specified ambient is typically 40C. It is generally accepted that a 10C rise above its maximum rated operating temperature will reduce a transformer''s life by 50%. In oil-filled transformers, monitor the following external components: High- and low-voltage bushing connections Overheating in a connection indicates high resistance and that the connection is loose or dirty. Also, compare phases, looking for unbalance and overloading. Cooling tubes On oil-cooled transformers, cooling tubes will normally appear warm. If one or more tubes are comparatively cool, oil flow is being restricted, and the root cause of the problem needs to be determined.

Cooling fans/pumps Inspect fans and pumps while they are running. A normally operating fan or pump will be warm, one with failing bearings will be hot, and one that is not functioning will be cold. Monitor the following for internal problems on oil filled transformers: Internal bushing connections Connections will be much hotter than surface temperatures read by an imager indicate. Tap changers An external tap changer compartment should be no warmer than the body of the transformer. Since not all taps will be connected at the time of an inspection, IR inspection results may not be conclusive. Pre-emptive planning pays off. So whether you have already established a highly sophisticated preventive maintenance program or you>re just getting started on a more proactive approach, thermal imaging can help you prevent major problems before they start in the areas described above. From motor control centers to pumps to gearboxes, thermography is becoming an increasingly popular method to identify potential areas of equipment failure and limit downtime, especially in the field of industrial power maintenance. By remotely gathering predetermined data before disaster strikes, thermography enables us to monitor the condition of all components within an electrical/mechanical system, record readings, establish a baseline and track trends over time for optimal maintenance and repair.