Industrial Thermal imaging cameras

Thermal imaging cameras are widely used for industrial purposes. Unlike handheld infrared thermometers, high-end thermal imaging cameras are versatile tools that boost safety and precision, even in high-speed applications, thus helping industry experts work smarter.

That said, the importance of successfully driving energy efficiency while slashing operational costs of various industrial manufacturing processes has become critical. By enabling automated non-contact maintenance and monitoring of product temperatures, a thermal camera can help drastically improve energy efficiency.

Let’s look into how modern industries leverage thermal imaging for energy efficiency and improve operational efficacy:

An image of a high-end thermal imaging cameras that is a versatile tool that boost safety and precision

How Does a Thermal Imaging Camera Work?

A thermal or infrared (IR) imaging camera is a non-contact device that detects and measures the infrared energy (in other words, heat signature) radiated by an object being analysed.

Later, it turns the captured infrared data into a thermal image.

Read more about ‘How Thermal Imaging Cameras Work‘ here.

A thermal imager comprises an optical system that directs infrared heat emitted by an object onto a sensor array.

This sensor array includes thousands of detector pixels placed in a grid that turns the infrared signal focused on them into an electronic signal.

The camera processor then picks up the electric signals given off by the pixels and produces a colour map of the apparent temperature of the object using a high-end mathematical algorithm. Each temperature value depicts a distinct colour. The final colour matrix is fed to the device memory as well as the display that shows the thermal image of that object.

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Application of Thermal Imaging

Even though thermographic cameras were developed for military surveillance, they have now become an indispensable part of many industrial processes, including:

Using thermographic cameras, electricians can detect a ‘hot spot’ due to an increase in circuit resistance long before it becomes hot enough to cause an explosion or power outage.

Thermal imagers help you pinpoint temperature differences in three-phase electrical circuits by comparing them with the standard operating conditions. By checking the thermal gradients of all three phases side by side, you can immediately figure out performance issues on individual legs due to overloading or electrical unbalance.

By scanning an area for temperature differences caused by pressure variation at the point of a gas leak, thermographic cameras help detect fugitive gas emissions.

You can carry on routine inspections of mechanical equipment, focusing on the parts that are most likely to have mechanical stresses. A thermal imager can measure heat generated by undulating vibration or friction in a machine to help you figure out its probable time to failure.

How Does Thermal Imaging Help with Rising Energy Costs?

Our thermal imagers can pinpoint areas with poor insulation that cause energy loss

As precise temperature detection and measurement tools, thermal imagers can pinpoint areas with poor insulation that cause energy loss. You can calculate the deviation of the target area’s temperature from the standard operating condition and identify any discrepancy in the industrial production, quality control, or R&D operations.

The result is faster and safer detection of anomalies that can cause operational failure or shutdown. And running machines at optimal capacity can lead to substantial cost savings.

Even better, as a non-invasive and non-destructive equipment, a thermal imager doesn’t require the target object to be powered off or excavated.

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Thermal Imaging for Energy Efficiency in Industrial Applications

Let’s dive deeper into how various industries can drive energy efficiency by leveraging thermal imaging technology:

Thermography in Metallurgy 

Metal production, especially in the steel industry, involves metallurgical processes that consume high energy. And by helping optimise these processes, thermal infrared cameras minimise the energy consumption across each step—from smelting to rolling.

For example, thermographic monitoring of pans helps you pinpoint insulation anomalies promptly and with accuracy. Also, you can identify bumps, cracks, and falling-offs in steel ladles due to erosion (mechanical or chemical) or rapid temperature variations.

Again, by helping locate a hot-blast stove and enabling uniform distribution of raw materials through precisely measuring the distributed temperature at the top surface of a furnace, infrared thermography ensures optimised metal production.

Leveraging accurate data for targeted correction during metallurgical processes helps save energy while avoiding accidents caused by molten metals.

For example, exhibiting a wide measurement temperature range of 450–2000°C, the Optris® PI 05M and PI 1M IR camera meets practically all requirements during metal production and processing.

Infrared cameras minimise the energy consumption across each step—from smelting to rolling.
CS LT15 for temperature measurement in paper mills

Thermography in the Paper Industry 

Thermal imagers have become a cost-effective means of analysing paper manufacturing processes and taking immediate corrective measures to drive energy efficiency. For instance, thermography can help you:

  • Figure out if excess heat is being generated in rolling bearings in paper machines. Bearings running under high-temperature conditions require more energy to turn the rolls. Worst-case scenario, they can cause fracturing of the inner ring, resulting in machine downtime.
  • Pinpoint steam coil leaks; thereby reducing the reliance on steam to dry paper sheets, which results in energy savings in the paper manufacturing process. 
  • See the moisture profiles and track the process elements for controlled moist streaks in paper sheets. 

Thermal imaging fire detection systems can be used to detect spontaneous fire in paper storage sites. 

Any industrial site that stores goods like paper, wood, etc. is susceptible to spontaneous combustion resulting from self-heating of material followed by thermal runaway and autoignition. 

In paper industries, bales of waste paper are stored that are used as raw materials for paper manufacturing. These paper storage areas are always at high risk of a fire breakout, and conventional smoke aspiration devices or line detectors fail to ensure the reliability required. 

Paper is a highly combustible material that can be ignited by sparks or contact with hot parts of a vehicle. And once ignited, flames can spread rapidly, making it extremely difficult to extinguish the fire.

A high-end early fire detection system rigged with thermography technology can be the most viable solution here. This type of system can scan each point in the target area and measure temperature difference, thus precisely pinpointing hot spots that have the potential to flare up. 

Based on the temperature threshold set on the modular software, the device sends alarms and helps avoid potential fire hazards in paper storage areas.

Thermography in Food Industry

A widely used technology in industrial applications, thermography can drive energy efficiency in food processing by efficiently monitoring and maintaining food levels and temperatures. 

For example, thermal imagers can significantly lower energy wastage by helping check seals in ovens and refrigerators. While a split seal on a refrigerator door leads to up to 11% more energy consumption than an efficiently functioning one, a worn oven door seal results in 20% more heat loss.

industries food

Selection Criteria

Different IR cameras come with different functionality to address specific use cases. You will find the market exploding with options—from point-and-shoot models to high-end HD-level research imagers. While investing in a product, especially for industrial applications, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Temperature Range: The lowest and highest temperature of the object you need to calculate represents your required temperature range of a thermal imager. Before investing in an IR camera, make sure you have a thorough knowledge about the potential temperature ranges you may get in your industrial processes. 
  • Resolution: The resolution signifies the number of pixels a thermographic imager can fill in a frame—more pixels imply greater visual resolution. High optical resolution thermal cameras ensure that a single point on a thermal image is exact and sharp enough, thus helping you to make better decisions. For example, with an optical resolution of up to 764 x 480 pixels and allowing pixel sizes down to 90 μm, Optris thermographic cameras provide pin-sharp videos and images in real time.
  • Sensitivity: Thermal sensitivity or noise equivalent temperature difference (NETD) defines the minimal temperature variation a thermographic imager can detect; the higher the thermal sensitivity is (or lower NETD), the better the sensor can record minimal temperature differences. For processes that require measuring subtle temperature differences (for example, in quality control or preventive medicine), IR cameras that have NETD as low as 40mK can be the best pick.
  • Lenses: For versatility and for monitoring various operating conditions, consider a thermal imager with interchangeable lenses. For instance, Optris PI cameras offer an array of lens options for close, standard, and long distances. 
  • Emissivity: A surface with low emissivity can reflect IR radiation from other objects, causing your measurement accuracy to be thrown off. Ensure you invest in an IR camera that allows you to set emissivity based on your target surface and data required for analysis. 

Process Parameters: Choose High-Quality Thermal Imaging Cameras

IR cameras can drive energy efficiency by limiting energy wastage. But to ensure you take accurate measurements while minimising operational downtimes, it’s critical to use high-end products.

Process Parameters offers a wide range of compact thermal imaging cameras that can satisfy the requirements of almost all industries—from health and research to science and much more. The rugged structure of our cameras makes them appropriate for QA and non-stop process measurement as well as R&D applications.

Our suite of top-range thermographic cameras is manufactured by Optris GmbH, an industry-leading company that ensures highly accurate non-contact temperature measurements using infrared measurement technology.

These cameras deliver fully radiometric pictures and video recordings through the licence-free program, Optris PI Connect

With an outstanding price–performance ratio, Optris cameras (distributed by Process Parameters) allow you to get actionable insights into your production processes faster, while enhancing end-product quality and lowering machine cycle times, thereby increasing energy savings. 

As the UK distributor for Optris GmbH, we can help you with your non-contact temperature measurement needs. Process Parameters offer readily available technical assistance to help you select the best thermal imaging for energy efficiency.

Optris camera in use on industrial application

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