In addition to the obvious benefits of performing a water-intrusion analysis or an energy efficiency study for your facility, testing can be done for predictive maintenance.  Predictive maintenance techniques help to determine the condition of in-service equipment in order to predict when maintenance should be performed. This approach offers cost savings over routine or time-based preventive maintenance, because tasks are performed only when warranted.

Leakage from a steam trap.  Photos Courtesy of FLIR Systems

Infrared thermography can be used to assess proper operation of motors, boilers, heat exchangers, electrical panels, and transformers.  Proper flow of cold or hot water can be verified by tracing the relative temperature of piping through valves and tees in a piping system.  Pipe or pipe insulation leaks can be indentified through walls.  These are valuable tools for any facility manager.

No issues noted with three-phase pump operation

Thermographic images must be in focus, have the proper emissivity setting, and the correct target located with the camera prior to shooting the thermographic image.  After the image is recorded, the correct reflected ambient temperature must be recorded along with the distance to the image and the relative humidity.  Reporting softwares are available to calculate actual temperature based upon the parameters above.

B phase exceeds 80% ampacity and temperature exceeds breaker rating. Photos Courtesy of FLIR Systems

As a general statement, facility managers should be concerned if:

  • Pump bearings are more than 75°F above the ambient temperature
  • Motors are more than 40°F above ambient temperature
  • Motors are more than 20°F above other motors
  • Electrical components are more than 20°F above ambient temperature

Note that many motors have internal heaters that may give off a thermal signature.  Generally, motors should have symmetrical thermal signatures.

The report should include images from all pumps.  This requires the operator to cycle the pumps on as part of the study.  A good study will include measurements at all equipment, so lagging pumps will have to be cycled on manually.  Covers should be removed from all power panels so terminations are exposed for the study.

zumBrunnen, Inc.

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