As with electrical systems, mechanical systems should also be inspected with thermography to reduce downtime and to maintain efficiency. When mechanical systems operate under normal conditions there will be some thermal energy emitted from the normal forces in the system. As the system begins to ware, grease gets contaminated, valves start sticking the emitted energy will increase. An infrared inspection may detect a developing issue before it becomes a failure.
By establishing a baseline the condition of mechanical systems can be tracked over time. This may be done when an infrared program is started, when a mechanical system is repaired, or a new system is installed. It could be an entire production line or a single piece of equipment.
A failing bearing in a motor or on a conveyor system can use unnecessary energy and cause unnecessary damage without being detected until the bearing fails or the current draw on the system gets high enough to trip the over-current device. In some instances, adjustments are made to the over-current device to prevent downtime without correcting the problem. However, if the bearing continues to operate without being corrected, eventually a failure may occur interrupting production.
Mechanical devices would include motors, coupling alignment between motors and load, hydraulic systems, gearboxes, conveyor systems, bearing, dust collection system, ventilation systems, plumbing, steam traps and pressure relief valves, drive belts, and anything else that would develop a temperature variation caused by a defect or abnormal condition in the mechanical system.
During an infrared inspection of a mechanical system if a thermal pattern or temperature differential is located that is not consistent with normal operating conditions, a thermal image will be produced. The thermal image is then record in a hardcopy format and along with additional information will provide necessary information to correct the problem.