How To Prevent Equipment Breakdowns With Infrared Technology
Equipment breakdowns are major setbacks for manufacturers. Unexpected downtime results in production delays, lost production time, and expensive repairs. Unfortunately, the factors leading to unplanned downtime are also often unseen. Thankfully, infrared (IR) technology can provide insight into the manufacturing environment to pinpoint friction, heat, and their effects.
Understanding infrared technology
Infrared technology involves examining the heat signatures of equipment through a special camera. These thermal imaging cameras convert infrared radiation into an electronic signal, which is then transformed into a visible image on a screen to reveal how hot equipment is during operation. This information can clue operators and maintenance technicians into the presence of friction or an electrical malfunction.
Infrared technology has numerous advantages over traditional inspection methods, including the ability to conduct noninvasive inspections without damaging the equipment. Thermal imaging cameras are also designed to measure and evaluate a broad area in a short period, allowing for quick inspections and actions. Just point the camera at critical junctions, and you can gauge heat and friction in seconds.
Detecting equipment hotspots
Thermal imaging is an effective solution for detecting “hotspots” in machinery. For example, when an increase in electrical resistance produces excess heat, a thermal imaging camera will show the hotspot. Moreover, if mechanical components aren’t properly lubricated, they may indicate heat as the result of excess friction.
Infrared technology can detect heat signatures invisible to the naked eye and generate thermal images to offer insight into the problem. Thermal imaging cameras can also provide accurate temperature measurements within seconds. As a result, technicians can quickly determine the root cause of the problem and take corrective action to prevent equipment failure and downtime.
Preventive maintenance with infrared technology
Preventive maintenance is based on the premise of regularly monitoring equipment to identify potential problems before they occur. By using thermal imaging cameras, technicians can gather data and create thermal profiles of equipment to distinguish warning signs of developing hotspots or component degradation.
If the equipment’s operative temperature exceeds the standard or if abnormal wear is detected, maintenance personnel can take proactive action to correct the issue before it turns into a crisis. Regular infrared inspections can also help extend the equipment’s lifespan and reduce repair and maintenance costs by identifying and fixing minor issues before they culminate in downtime.
Identifying potential equipment issues
While thermal imaging is excellent at detecting hotspots, its real utility is in helping technicians trace the cause of these hotspots back to mechanical wear, insulation degradation, lubrication problems, and more. Root cause analysis leads to meaningful action, which facilitates a successful preventive maintenance approach.
The best part is, a thermal imaging camera is a one-time, nominal investment that can pay for itself with every minute of unexpected downtime it prevents. Catching an electrical malfunction or lubrication issue before it manifests as a breakdown is vital for keeping production moving along smoothly.