Taking a Deep Dive on Thermal Imaging for Predictive Maintenance

By Paul Grady on Mar 14 in Technology.

An average production facility faces around $22,000 in losses each minute when dealing with unexpected critical machinery breakdowns and downtime. That’s why keeping machinery in check is crucial to ensure it operates smoothly and without any interruptions. Predictive maintenance is the go-to solution to assess the machine’s health and detect issues beforehand.

Among the predictive maintenance practices, thermal imaging offers a unique, non-invasive solution to help detect anomalies before they occur. The following blog offers a more thorough explanation of thermal imaging and how it works. We’ll offer insights on thermal imaging equipment and what issues it can detect. In addition, we’ll also explore the specific benefit predictive maintenance via thermal imaging  has to offer.

Understanding Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging Equipment

What is Thermal Imaging?

Did you know that in any given system, every object is in a state of heat exchange? This is because of the natural laws where each body strives for equilibrium. When this happens, some bodies absorb heat, while some emit it via infrared emissions. Scientists have found a way to measure these infrared radiations through thermal imaging.

Thermal imaging is a sophisticated, non-invasive technology that uses infrared radiation to detect heat emissions from various objects. It converts invisible infrared energy into visible light, creating a thermal image or thermogram.

In industries, thermal imaging plays a crucial role in predictive maintenance, as pairing it with data analysis software can help predict potential issues and inefficiencies.

What is a Thermal Image?

Let’s discuss thermograms in a bit more detail. It is the visual output produced by the thermal imaging process. Thermal imaging helps provide information using colors to represent the varying temperatures, providing insight into critical machinery. The thermal image is captured via thermal imaging equipment such as a thermal camera. Through it, facility managers can identify hotspots and other anomalies unseen to the naked eye. Also see the breast cancer thermograms here.

What Can It Detect?

The application of thermal imaging is versatile. Apart from the manufacturing industry, it also traverses other domains, including medicine and defense. Although it has several applications, we will discuss its application based on predictive maintenance. Thermal imaging can help identify electrical faults as well as overheating in components in the critical machinery system. It can also help detect inefficiencies such as heat loss, water leaks, pests, and rodents inhabiting the structure. It can also help identify potential problems invisible to the naked eye in an industrial setting.

How Does Thermal Imaging Equipment Work?

How Does Thermal Imaging Work?

Thermal imaging operates on a simple principle – based on temperature; all objects produce infrared radiation. Thermal imaging equipment such as specialized cameras capture this energy, process the information and create a thermal image representing temperature variations. Each temperature value is assigned a different color. This helps provide a visual representation of the scene.

What is an Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera?

Above, we mentioned a specialized camera. Here’s what you need to know about them:

These cameras are often called thermal cameras. They can detect infrared radiation and create them into visual images. Thermal cameras utilize the long-wavelength infrared spectrum, unlike conventional cameras using visible light. They work by detecting heat emitted by objects, converting it into an electronic signal, and producing a thermal image on a video monitor. These cameras are versatile tools applicable in various professional fields.

How Infrared Cameras Work?

Infrared cameras operate by detecting and measuring the infrared energy of objects, converting it into an electronic image that displays the apparent surface temperature. With thousands of detector pixels arranged in a grid, the camera processor creates a color map representing temperature variations. This helps create a visual representation that is easier to understand.

Benefits of Using Thermal Imaging for Predictive Maintenance

Thermal imaging offers numerous benefits when applied to predictive maintenance in facility management:

  • Detecting abnormalities in equipment or structures before they escalate into critical issues.
  • Identifying potential hazards, such as overheating components, before they lead to accidents or fires.
  • Maximizing efficiency by addressing problems proactively and minimizing downtime.
  • Preventing costly equipment failures and reducing the need for reactive maintenance.

Final Note

In conclusion, thermal imaging is the go-to solution for predictive maintenance for facility management. Its ability to detect potential problems early on, enhance safety, and contribute to cost savings makes it an indispensable tool for facility management. By understanding the principles and applications of thermal imaging equipment, facility managers can integrate this technology seamlessly into their predictive maintenance strategies.


1. How Does Thermal Imaging Differ from Infrared Thermometers?

Thermal imaging captures and visualizes temperature variations across a scene, providing a detailed heat map. Infrared thermometers measure the temperature of a specific point. Thermal imaging helps detect anomalies caused by electrical faults and overheating components.

2. What Factors Should Be Considered when Choosing a Thermal Camera for Predictive Maintenance?

Consider resolution, sensitivity, field of view, and additional features like video recording or data-sharing capabilities based on your specific needs and applications. It’s often best to consult a thermal imaging service provider to learn more about thermal imaging equipment.

3. Can Thermal Imaging Detect Structural Defects in Construction?

Thermal imaging effectively identifies structural defects by visualizing temperature variations that may indicate issues in construction and engineering.

4. How Does Thermal Imaging Contribute to Energy Audits in Building Maintenance?

Thermal imaging helps detect heat losses due to poor insulation or air leaks, contributing to energy audits and building inspections in the maintenance process.

Paul Grady

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