What is infrared thermography?

Infrared thermography is a non-contact method of measuring temperature differences. It uses infrared radiation to detect heat emitted from objects and materials. Infrared thermography has many applications, including medical diagnostics, manufacturing processes, construction quality control, aerospace systems testing, and more.

What are the advantages of infrared thermography?

Here are some of the advantages of infrared thermography:

  1. Non-contact and non-invasive: Infrared thermography allow measurements to be taken from a distance, making it a non-contact and non-invasive method. This makes it safe to use when physical contact is not advisable or possible.
  2. Real-time imaging: This method provides immediate visualization of the temperature differences, allowing for real-time detection of problems.
  3. Preventative maintenance: Infrared thermography can identify problem areas that can't be seen by the naked eye, thus helping in preventative maintenance by detecting issues before they become more significant problems.
  4. Safe and easy to use: Since infrared thermography uses infrared light, which is entirely safe, it can be used extensively without any health risks. The technology is also user-friendly, meaning it only requires a little training to understand how to use the equipment effectively.
  5. Can detect invisible gases: Certain invisible gases can be seen by an infrared camera, making this technology extremely valuable in specific industries, such as the petrochemical industry.
  6. Saves time and money: By detecting potential problems early, infrared thermography can save significant time and money needed for more extensive repairs or replacements.
  7. Can operate in the dark: As it detects heat rather than light, infrared thermography can operate in complete darkness. This is particularly useful when light conditions are better or more present.

Example of infrared thermography

Infrared thermography can be used to detect heat leaks in buildings. For example, it helps diagnose and locate problems with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC). It works by recording the temperature of an object rather than its visible appearance—as you might expect from its name—so it can be used on solid materials and gases or liquids. For example, if you have a leaky HVAC channel, infrared thermography will show you where the leak is so you can fix it before significant heating or cooling losses.

Want to try a CMMS today?

Get started for free

Examples of infrared thermography used for maintenance

Infrared thermography is used extensively in maintenance across various industries. It helps to detect problems early, preventing system failures and extending the life of equipment. Here are some examples of its use in maintenance:

  • Predictive maintenance: In predictive maintenance, infrared thermography is used to foresee problems before they become severe. For example, an infrared camera can detect abnormal heat patterns that may indicate excessive friction or overloading in mechanical systems like motors, bearings, and conveyor belts. This allows maintenance teams to address these issues before they lead to equipment failure.
  • Electrical maintenance: Infrared thermography can be invaluable in inspecting electrical equipment. Overheated connections, high resistance, unbalanced loads, and other electrical problems generate heat, which an infrared camera can detect. Regular thermographic inspections can help prevent unscheduled downtime, equipment damage, and even electrical fires.
  • Building and infrastructure maintenance: Infrared thermography can detect issues such as water leaks, insulation deficiencies, and structural anomalies. For instance, moisture within a building's structure will typically be a different temperature than the surrounding areas. Similarly, poor insulation or thermal bridges (areas where heat flows more readily) can be identified based on their temperature differences. Regular inspections help prioritize repair work and improve energy efficiency.
  • HVAC systems: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems can also benefit from thermographic inspections. Blocked or leaking ducts, malfunctioning equipment, and other issues can be identified by their thermal signatures, leading to more efficient operation and energy savings.
  • Pipeline and vessel inspections: Infrared thermography can detect issues with pipelines and vessels, such as blockages or leaks. These issues typically create temperature differences that can be easily identified in a thermographic image.
  • Steam system maintenance: Infrared thermography can detect the loss of insulation in steam lines or locate steam leaks, which can lead to significant energy loss.

Infrared thermography is a non-invasive method of measuring temperature

It's often used to detect heat loss in buildings, but there are many other applications. Infrared thermography can be used to find leaks in plumbing or electrical systems, locate hot spots on machinery that may indicate problems with bearings or seals (or even warn against overloading). That's why infrared thermography is trusted by maintenance teams to determine potential failures on equipment and systems.

3D Fiix logo

Empower your maintenance team

Leverage the cloud to work together, better in the new connected age of maintenance and asset management.