How thermal imaging helps preventative maintenance

The primary goal of any manufacturer or producer is to keep operations running efficiently. Unforeseen equipment failure and malfunction can be a massive disruption to the day-to-day running of a factory. However, traditional preventative maintenance measures can create inefficiency of their own. 

Thermal imaging techniques allow businesses to maintain their operations while performing vital assessments. Manufacturing process consulting services might be useful to find out if thermal imaging is right for your project. 


What is Thermal Imaging? 

Thermal cameras use infrared radiation (IR) to create an image. Objects in the image appear as different colours depending on their temperature. Colder objects are shown in dark blue and purple, while hotter objects appear as orange and bright yellow. 

A thermal imaging camera detects heat signatures in an environment through the electromagnetic spectrum. To do this, it combines an IR sensor array with regular image capture technology. Thermal imaging cameras are typically handheld devices so they’re easy to use. 

Thermal images can also reveal the relative temperature of objects that aren’t visible to the human eye. For example, a hot piece of metal behind an opaque material won’t give off light in a dark room but it will be visible with a thermal imaging camera. 


Why is Preventative Maintenance Important? 

Preventative maintenance, sometimes called predictive maintenance, is designed to avoid machinery break down. It involves consistent monitoring to identify areas that need mechanical maintenance ahead of time. Preventative maintenance is used by businesses in many industries to increase productivity and safety standards. 

Thermal imaging is useful for preventative maintenance because it collects heat data. Heat readings can signify damage or wear. For instance, cold areas of machinery that are supposed to be warm can reveal there’s a malfunction. For machinery maintenance, companies should keep a record of optimal running temperatures. Heat signature measurements can then be checked against this data to determine if there are any equipment issues. 


Uses of Thermal Imaging in Preventative Maintenance 

Uses of Thermal Imaging in Preventative Maintenance 

  •  Locate overheating equipment or machinery 
  • Identify areas of excessive friction 
  • Pipe leaks and blockages 
  • Reveal inefficiencies in air ventilation and heat insulation 
  • Malfunctioning electrical components 
  • Internal damage to fuses and wiring 
  • Loss of electrical current 

A mechanical maintenance company can use thermal imaging technology to conduct a thermographic survey of a business’ premises. 


Example Thermal Inspection Process 

  1. Gather existing lists of equipment from the business inventory or computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) if it has one.
  2. Select items that are susceptible to infrared analysis.
  3. Prioritise key points in the production process and equipment that’s prone to failure.
  4. Using thermal imaging, capture heat signature pictures of each piece of equipment. To help with machinery maintenance, be sure to capture multiple images of components.
  5. Organise data into spreadsheets or other form of record, either by equipment geography or function.
  6. Proper industrial thermal imaging cameras will allow past images to be uploaded prior to each inspection. This gives an automatic comparison that identifies any areas of extreme temperature change. 



As well as preventing costly machinery breakdowns, thermal imaging helps preventative maintenance save your business time and resources. While thermal imaging helps make preventative maintenance quicker and easier, it does need to be implemented properly. FESS provides professional machinery maintenance services. 

We offer manufacturing process consulting for businesses in industries from pharmaceuticals to pet food. Get in touch and book a free site survey today. 

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