The Ultimate Guide to Mechanical Thermal Inspection

Welcome to the world of Mechanical Thermal Inspection! 

 

This guide is your ticket to unraveling the mysteries of temperature and heat signatures. Prepare to explore the unseen as we delve into the practical techniques and applications of this intriguing field. You will uncover hidden secrets of Mechanical Thermal Inspection. 

 

Get ready to dive in and embark on this fascinating journey together!

What are Thermal Inspections you may ask? Maybe you’ve heard of it or are currently tasked to it, but don’t know much about.

 

Thermal inspections use Infrared (IR) Thermography to detect and identify potential problems in mechanical systems without causing damage. This is what is known as a form of Non-destructive inspection. In thermal imaging, although it only measures surface temperature, it can identify areas of excessive heat that may indicate wear, friction, or other issues which are crucial to identify in mechanical inspections.

 

This makes thermal inspection a valuable tool for predictive maintenance, as it can help identify and address problems before they cause failure, saving time and money while preventing downtime and production losses.

 

Thermal inspection also enables quick scanning of large areas to locate hot spots indicating potential issues. Additionally, thermal images provide visual proof that a fault existed and was properly repaired, documenting work and increasing customer confidence.

 

In this article, we explore the benefits of mechanical thermal imaging and provide crucial tips for inspection.

Crucial tips for MECHANICAL THERMAL INSPECTIONS:

  1. Don’t forget to visually inspect the objects in addition to the thermal inspection. Some issues may be identified through observation alone. Visual inspection can also aid in thermal investigation by identifying problems such as loose or missing components, cracks, or leaks.

  2. When taking thermal images of equipment, be sure to capture images from multiple angles and at different zoom levels.

  3. Remember to review photos and thermal images on the spot. Don’t leave it until later, as they may not have been taken properly due to camera lag or unexpected glitches. If you notice any issues that require immediate attention, consider alerting your customer or superior right away.

  4. Be on the lookout for both hot and cold spots! Areas of excessive heat can indicate wear, friction, or other problems, while cold areas could be a sign of equipment inactivity.

MORE REASONS WHY

Here are even more reasons why Mechanical Thermal Inspections can be such an important asset to your operations:

  • Non-destructive: Thermal imaging is a non-destructive testing method, which means it does not damage your equipments.
  • Safe & Convenient: Thermal imaging can be used to inspect active equipments, which can be dangerous to inspect using traditional methods or expensive to turn-off. And since thermal inspections are a form of non-contact testing, it can be used in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Fast & Efficient: Thermal imaging can inspect large areas or items that are too numerous to inspect individually.
  • Cost-saving: Failures can be discovered early, preventing costly repairs and downtime. It can also help you identify energy inefficiencies, allowing you to make targeted improvements that can save you money in the long run.

Before you START

Before beginning your Mechanical Thermal Inspection, it is important for you to become familiar with the normal or baseline behavior of your equipment being inspected. You will need to understand how the component behaves under optimal conditions and its temperature range. One way to do this is to refer to a component or equipment’s specifications for its temperature limitations.

 

If you cannot find this information, you can resort to comparing the temperature with that of another device of similar make and model. However, you must ensure that the reference unit is functioning properly and is very similar to the device being tested.

Final point to note is that thermal inspections are not the only method of inspection. Be sure to use other methods to check and confirm your suspicions.

Listed below are common problems that are important for you to know the common problems which may occur in industrial mechanical equipment:

 

Wear and Tear:

Over time, mechanical equipment may experience wear and tear, leading to decreased performance and potential failure.

Misalignment:
Components that are not aligned properly may cause excessive vibration, which can lead to premature failure.

 

Overloading:
Equipment that is overloaded may not be able to handle the stress, leading to premature failure.

 

Corrosion:
Exposure to moisture and other corrosive substances can cause damage to mechanical equipment.

Bearing problems:

Bearings are critical components in many mechanical systems. They may experience wear, misalignment, or other issues that can lead to premature failure.

 

Heat-related issues:
Excessive heat can cause components to wear out more quickly or even fail outright; possibly caused by vibration, friction, overloading, poor insulation or other factors.

 

Leaks:
Leaks can cause damage to mechanical equipment and may lead to failure if not addressed promptly.

 

Improper Lubrication:
Lack of proper lubrication can cause components to wear out more quickly and may lead to failure.

16 COMPONENTS TO LOOK OUT FOR

Here are some components that benefit from Mechanical Thermal Inspections:

  1. Bearings: Bearings are critical components in many mechanical systems. They allow for smooth rotation and reduce friction, which can lead to premature wear and failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on bearings, which can be a sign of wear or misalignment.
  2. Gears: Gears are another critical component in many mechanical systems. They transmit power from one shaft to another and can be prone to wear and tear. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on gears, which can be a sign of wear, misalignment, or overloading.
  3. Motors: Motors are used to power many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on motors, which can be a sign of overheating or bearing problems.
  4. Solenoids: Solenoids are used to control the flow of fluids and gases in many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on solenoids, which can be a sign of overheating or electrical problems.
  5. Wiring: Wiring is used to transmit power and control signals in many mechanical systems. It can be damaged by heat, vibration, and chemicals. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on wiring, which can be a sign of overheating or electrical problems.
  6. Conveyor Belts: Thermal inspection can help identify hot spots on conveyor belts, which may indicate worn or faulty rollers. If a roller isn’t rotating correctly, it can cause too much friction and create heat. Thermal inspection can also check the alignment of conveyor belts, which can affect their performance and cause them to wear out too soon.
  7. Couplings: Couplings are used to connect two shafts together. They can be prone to wear and misalignment. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on couplings, which can be a sign of wear or misalignment.
  8. Pumps: Pumps are used to move fluids in many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on pumps, which can be a sign of overheating or bearing problems.
  9. Valves: Valves are used to control the flow of fluids in many mechanical systems. They can be prone to wear and corrosion. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on valves, which can be a sign of wear or corrosion.
  10. Seals: Seals are used to prevent fluids from leaking out of mechanical systems. They can be prone to wear and damage. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on seals, which can be a sign of wear or damage.
  11. Compressors: Compressors are used to compress gases in many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on compressors, which can be a sign of overheating or bearing problems.
  12. Fans: Fans are used to move air in many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on fans, which can be a sign of overheating or bearing problems.
  13. Heat Exchangers: Heat exchangers are used to transfer heat from one fluid to another in many mechanical systems. They can be prone to corrosion and fouling. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on heat exchangers, which can be a sign of corrosion or fouling.
  14. Turbines: Turbines are used to convert fluid energy into mechanical energy in many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on turbines, which can be a sign of overheating or bearing problems.
  15. Boilers: Boilers are used to generate steam in many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on boilers, which can be a sign of overheating or fouling.
  16. Generators: Generators are used to generate electrical power in many mechanical systems. They can generate a lot of heat, which can lead to premature failure. Thermal imaging can be used to identify hot spots on generators, which can be a sign of overheating or bearing problems.
Source: FLIR

As we conclude this guide to Mechanical Thermal Inspection, we hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical knowledge to navigate the thermal realm with confidence. Armed with the ability to decode heat signatures and uncover hidden anomalies, you are now equipped to unlock a new level of understanding in the mechanical world. Remember, the thermal adventure doesn’t end here—it’s just the beginning. So go forth, explore, and continue to unravel the captivating stories that lie within the realm of temperature. May your thermal endeavors be filled with discovery and success. Happy inspecting!

Ready To Become The Hero Of Your Facility?

Thermal Cameras have been a valuable tool in helping us to identify thermal or electrical issues both quickly and efficiently. 

 A picture is truly worth a thousand words.

On this note, we hope that our guide has inspired you in your thermal inspection endeavours. 

 If you’re still wondering how to fully utilize and unlock the potential in your Thermal Cameras, seek professional advice from Infrared Thermography Experts to ensure you are investing in the best tools for your maintenance application.

 

Contact us on Whatsapp or Email info@iirt.sg to learn more about a Level 1 Infrared Thermography Certification.

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