Advanced Testing Services

Thermal Imaging

It is now widely agreed that preventive maintenance is an important part of any plant operation. ATS believes that switch board and mechanical inspection is a large part of this process.
Until recently the only way to check the condition of a switch board or piece of plant was to shut it down and manually inspect all parts for terminal tightness and signs of wear or deterioration.
This process is time consuming and expensive. In some plants this can involve days of down time and having to use extra maintenance staff. There is also the risk of unnecessary damage being done to switch board connections from repetitive tightening of terminals and disassembling and reassembling of plant to inspect for signs of wear.
Sometimes visual checks will not always catch faults like electrical phase imbalance, deterioration of connections or overloading both mechanical and electrical. During this maintenance procedure only obvious signs of overheating or mechanical wear are usually seen and some faults can go unnoticed and possibly lead to a plant breakdown or fire later on.
One tool to help to stop this from happening is the use of thermal imaging equipment to check switchboards and plant on a regular basis. This technology is non-contact and is done with the equipment being tested under normal load. So there no need for a shutdown and potential faults that only show up under load can be detected.

ATS is able to provide this service. The qualified technician will work with your maintenance staff or your maintenance Contractor to work out the best way to service your requirements. At the conclusion of the testing any major faults will be reported immediately. A full report will be prepared and sent to the required people within two working days.
Below is a sample page from a report showing a contactor fault in a switch board.



The temperatures at the top contactor terminals are much higher than the temperatures of the terminals at the bottom of the contactor. Also the temperature of the red phase at the top connection is much higher than the rest.

This suggests that the bolts joining the cables to the top terminals are not at the correct torque settings or are corroded resulting in a bad connection which if left would result in a termination failure which would stop the equipment that is connected to this contactor from operating. A fault of this type also has the potential to cause a switch board fire. Rated load and phase balance should also be checked when the repair is done.

A fault repair like this can be done at a time that will have least effect on the plant operation. Any necessary replacement parts can be onsite before the repair is started thus reducing down time.

Thermal imaging of mechanical parts of equipment while in service can be used to evaluate the life left in the part. Thus helping to eliminate unnecessary replacement of sometimes expensive parts and helping with planning maintenance programs.
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