Using Thermographic Scans for Predictive Maintenance
For business owners who use our risk assessment services and are familiar with our Property Conservation Program, you should already know our guidelines for thermographic scans.
For heavy manufacturing facilities, such as sawmills, thermographic scans should be conducted annually by a Level 2 Thermographer. Thermographic scans are a great electrical preventative maintenance tool that identifies hot spots before they become major issues.
By using thermographic scans of electrical systems, you can find abnormal heat patterns ( or “hot spots”) that indicate a heightened risk of fire, and then take the necessary preventative measures. And by committing to thermographic scans on a regular schedule, you bake a significant element of risk reduction into your operations. While this usage of thermography is critical for both the insured and insurance companies, it is focused primarily on electrical components. Furthermore, it only properly evaluates conditions that were present for the snapshot of time when the scan was taking place.
After seeing many businesses suffer from avoidable equipment failures, we want to highlight the benefits of adding a thermal camera to the toolbox of your maintenance department.
The addition of a thermal imager and routine scans can transform your current preventative maintenance program into a predictive maintenance program.
What Is the Difference Between Preventative and Predictive Maintenance?
Preventative maintenance is based on a schedule, not necessarily on the condition of the equipment or infrastructure. Everything can appear to be in top operating order, but the preventative maintenance task, in this case an annual thermographic scan, is carried out regardless.
Predictive maintenance is based on the actual condition of the equipment or infrastructure. In other words, if you see a problem cropping up, you fix it before a malfunction or equipment failure occurs.
Why You Should Use Thermographic Scans for Predictive Maintenance
At Continental Underwriters, Inc., pinpointing risks and providing solutions for those risks is a major part of what we do. And while that centers on reducing the risk of significant losses, it also applies to reducing the risk of downtime and unnecessary expenses in general.
After countless onsite visits, we saw frequent equipment failures with no obvious visual indicator that could have been predicted if a routine thermographic scan program had been in place at the time.
How Can Thermographic Scans Be Applied to Predictive Maintenance?
Machinery and equipment will generate heat when in normal working order. But when there are issues in bearings, motors, electrical connections, or other components, abnormal heat patterns will show up on a thermographic scan.
For example, if a thermal image showed an abnormal heat signature on a bearing, the bearing could be overheating due to a lack of lubrication, overloading, or insufficient cooling. Not only is there a fire risk from spun bearings due to the heat that is generated, it could also pose a risk for excessive wear and tear that causes the bearing to fail or break altogether.
In this scenario, a thermographic scan could predict the need for maintenance, and crews could perform the necessary tasks at the least disruptive time. But without using a thermographic scan for predictive maintenance, the issue would likely not be uncovered until it caused the bearing to fail. Then the business goes from a routine maintenance task with minimal downtime to more involved repairs or replacement with unscheduled, undetermined downtime.
We’re Here to Help You Reduce All Risks to Your Business
Although thermographic scans are typically relegated to an annual measure in property conservation programs, we advocate for their use on a more regular basis. Thermographic scans can help protect the equipment that businesses depend on and reduce the likelihood of more serious and expensive issues developing over time.
Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post where we will explore the specific benefits and applications of thermographic scans for forest products businesses. If you have any questions in the meantime or would like to find The National Solution to Your Local Risk™, reach out to our team today!