Original Date: 07/21/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Infrared Thermography Based Predictive Maintenance
Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility uses an infrared camera to simplify the process of interpreting and finding problem areas in electrical panels.
Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility (EBQP) has more than 1,000 electrical distribution panels, each having the potential to cause loss of production or a catastrophic fire in the event of a failure. The standard practice for checking/maintaining electrical panels was to have an electrician drop power to the panel and manually check every connection. This was labor and time intensive, costly, and typically took four hours per panel.
EBQP purchased an infrared thermal imaging (thermography) camera to inspect electrical panels. This camera allows the panel cover to be opened, and while the panel is still energized, the camera can check every connection within 30 seconds. Hot spots noted in the thermal image can be saved and downloaded to an electronic report for scheduled repair. This process can also be performed on overhead, high-power lines which, on one occasion, immediately identified a severe problem with a piece of utility-owned, high-voltage equipment that was adversely affecting EBQP’s power supply.
The thermal imaging camera proved its value when the utility power supply to the Blast and Paint Facility had caused numerous single-phase events in the building. Each event caused a total loss of power and interruption of production, at a cost of up to two hours per event. In less than two minutes after restoring power to the building, the infrared camera pin-pointed a faulty connector on the utility pole. By simplifying the process of finding a problem area in electrical panels, an electrician now spends one or two hours every night surveying several panels with the camera, as opposed to spending four to six hours for a single panel.
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Point of Contact for this survey.