At the recent ERIKS and Festo Energy Conservation Operation (ECO) event, ERIKS UK Business Development Manager David Manning-Ohren gave a presentation on how Quantitative Thermography can be used to increase productivity, efficiency and profitability.
The key point was that, with the right thermal imaging camera in the hands of skilled operators, and the right formulae, it is possible to:
- See and record heat energy loss
- Quantify the loss
- Give that loss a financial value.
And when you can put a cost on energy loss, you can compare it with the cost of rectifying the problem, and make an informed judgement on the right steps to take.
The full picture
The first issue is the camera.
The better the resolution, the more accurate the measurement; and the better the zoom, the easier it is to acquire a usable image. If heat is being lost from a piece of plant which is itself very hot, or from pipework which is inaccessible, a powerful zoom may be the only way to get an accurate reading.
However, a high-quality camera can cost as much as £63,000, which makes it uneconomic for purchasers who will use it only occasionally.
The second issue is the camera operator. A skilled operator knows where heat energy losses are most likely to be found, and how to get the best images. The trained operator also knows how to interpret the images – turning multi-coloured pictures into quantifiable energy-loss, and in turn converting that into financial terms.
And some of the figures revealed may surprise you.
Translating thermal images into hard figures requires a number of calculations using recognised formulae. To populate the formulae, it’s necessary to know:
- The heat loss through radiation and convection
- The shape of the object generating the heat loss
- The orientation of the object
- The cross-sectional area which is losing heat.
When all these figures are incorporated into the correct formulae, it’s possible firstly to convert the recorded temperature into watts per square meter, and then to convert that wasted wattage into pounds and pence.
The better the resolution of the infrared camera, and the more skilled the operator, the more reliable, accurate and useful these figures will be.
Using these methods, ERIKS has identified energy losses for customers of:
- £805.47 p.a. from an exposed valve on a boiler
- £4,155 p.a. from a pipe run with no insulation
- £6,665.38 p.a. from two main isolation 12” valves with no jackets.
With these figures it is then possible to evaluate the losses against the cost of prevention, and make a truly cost-effective decision.
Image is everything
The key to a successful, quantifiable end result is the image with which you start. And as already explained, the key to that is a quality camera with a skilled operator.
For instance, not everything transmits or absorbs infrared at all wavelengths, so there is nothing to be gained from an inexperienced user pointing the camera at everything and anything.
Also, in skilled hands, infrared cameras can have even wider uses. For example, they can be specially tuned to see and record gases such as VOCs and natural gas. This means they can detect gas leaks when they are still small, and makes an infrared camera in the right hands a valuable Condition Monitoring tool.
But to turn qualitative data into quantitative data you can use, you need a high-quality camera and a high-quality operator.
To find out more about ERIKS’ thermography services, click here, or to download the presentation from the ECO event click below.