DCN October 2017 - Page 31

Thermal imaging accurate quantitative results, it can also be very effective in showing findings in finer details to others. This can help speed the decision- making process for improvements and repairs. As well as clarity of image for effective problem diagnosis, resolution is very important from a safety perspective too. For electrical inspection, there is no point in buying a low priced, low-resolution troubleshooting camera that can only give you a clear image when it’s six inches away from the target! Accurate and repeatable results Consistency of measurement accuracy is a very important factor when determining the value of a camera. For best results, look for a model that meets or exceeds ±2% accuracy and ask your supplier for details of how they assure the manufacturing quality of the detector to guarantee this. That isn’t the only criteria, however. In order to produce correct and repeatable results, your camera should include in-built tools for entering both values for emissivity – the measure of efficiency in which a surface emits thermal energy – and also reflected temperature. A cabinet may be hot in the thermal image but its shiny surface could just be reflecting the heat from overhead lighting or indeed the body heat generated by the camera operator. A model that gives you an easy way to input and adjust these parameters will produce the accurate temperature measurements you need in the field. Other helpful diagnostics to consider are multiple moveable spots and area boxes for isolating and annotating temperature measurements that can be saved as radiometric data and incorporated into reports. Standard file formats Many thermal imaging cameras store images in a proprietary format that can only be read and analysed by specialised software. Others have an optional JPEG storage capability that lacks temperature information. Clearly, the most useful is a format that offers standard JPEG with full temperature analysis embedded. This allows you to email IR images without losing vital information. Radiometric JPEGs can also be imported from Wi-Fi compatible cameras to select mobile devices using apps that allow further image “As well as clarity of image for effective problem diagnosis, resolution is very important from a safety perspective too.” editing, analysis and sharing. Also look out for models that allow you to stream MPEG 4 video via USB to computers and monitors. This is especially useful for capturing dynamic thermal activity where heating and cooling occurs rapidly and for recording motorised equipment or processes in motion. Some cameras feature composite video output for cabling to digital recorders while others include HDMI outputs. And new mobile applications have also been developed that allow streaming video over Wi-Fi. All these capabilities help you share findings more effectively and enhance your infrared inspections and reports. Software, study the options Today most thermal imaging cameras come with free software so you can perform basic image analysis and create simple reports. Advanced software for more in- depth and customisable reports is also available, allowing you to take full advantage of your camera’s capability and features. Investigate these tailored software programmes thoroughly to see which makes the most sense for your needs. And finally, don’t underestimate the importance of training. The best thermal imaging camera in the world is only valuable in the hands of a skilled operator. October 2017 | 31