Thermal Imaging Cameras: Prevention and Safety in Your Industrial Processes

Learn how thermal imaging cameras are essential in the industrial sector to guarantee process efficiency and safety.

By Fernando Ruíz
Sales Engineer – NUTEC


3 minutes

Thermal imaging cameras in thermal insulating materials

3 minutes

In the industrial sector, efficiency and safety are crucial to guarantee success. However, high temperatures can pose a significant challenge.

For this reason, it is essential to have advanced monitoring and detection tools. Let's take, for example, the technology found in thermal imaging cameras, which have become an effective instrument to prevent problems and guarantee safety while extending the useful life of equipment and machinery by identifying thermal anomalies and helping to promptly avoid dangerous situations.

In this article, we'll explore this technology and how it helps to identify and mitigate risks associated with extreme heat.

What is a thermal imaging camera, and what is it for?

The thermal imaging camera is an electronic device that uses infrared technology to capture and measure the thermal radiation emitted by objects. It can visualize the temperature and display it in a thermogram image. This image visually represents temperature differences, allowing hot or cold areas to be identified quickly and accurately.

In addition to its ability to measure temperature, the thermographic camera is versatile in applications where conventional sensors are not used, specifically when moving objects are pushing belts, rollers, and other similar appliances.

The difference with a traditional camera is its operation and the type of information it captures. While the traditional camera captures visible light to form images, the thermal imaging camera uses thermal sensors to detect the infrared radiation emitted by objects.

As an additional fact, according to the Grand View Research report, the global market for industrial thermal imaging cameras is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 10.5% between 2022 and 2028, which demonstrates the growing employment of these instruments.

Advantages of using a thermal imaging camera during any industrial process

The use of this type of tool offers significant advantages. Some that stand out are:

  1. Early detection of failures and temperature problems. It allows us to identify hot spots and overheating in equipment, machinery, and electrical systems before they cause severe damage. This makes it possible to carry out preventive interventions and avoid costly breakdowns or unscheduled stoppages.
  2. Improved security. Safety is a priority in any industrial environment. With a thermal imaging camera, it is possible to identify risk areas where extreme temperatures can pose a danger to workers.
  3. Energy savings. Thermal imaging allows us to identify heat leaks and energy losses in equipment and thermal insulation systems. By rectifying these deficiencies, energy consumption is reduced, and process efficiency is optimized, which translates into significant savings in the long term.
  4. Predictive maintenance. Based on the precise data and analysis provided by the thermal imager, it is possible to schedule maintenance procedures according to their actual state, avoiding unnecessary, costly actions by instead tackling them promptly.

In this article, find out how to solve heat leaks with thermal insulation systems.

Thermal imaging camera applications

As mentioned before, the thermal imaging camera can convert infrared radiation into an image, showing radiation or temperature distribution. In this way, any situation in which heat transfer processes occur can be scrutinized. Some of the main industrial applications are the following:

  • Inspection of equipment and machinery. It can inspect motors, transformers, boilers, furnaces, and other equipment. This makes it possible to catch issues such as bearing wear, motor overheating, and electronic component malfunctions, facilitating maintenance planning and avoiding catastrophic failures.
  • QA. In an industrial production chain, it is essential to guarantee the quality of the products. In this context, a thermal imaging camera can identify issues such as weld defects, malfunctioning refrigeration systems, and heat distribution problems in manufacturing processes.
  • Inspection of electrical installations. Faulty electrical connections or overheated cables are sources of danger in industrial environments. Hot spots can be detected in electrical panels, power distribution systems, and wiring.

Thermal imaging cameras usage

Color interpretation

In most thermal imaging cameras, a color scale called a ‘heat color palette’ or ‘thermal color palette’ is used. This palette assigns specific shades to different temperature ranges to make the data easier to interpret.

Some typical color palettes used in thermal imaging cameras include the following:

  • Grayscale. This represents the lower temperatures with darker tones and the higher temperatures with lighter shades of gray.
  • Rainbow color palette. Rainbow colors are assigned to different temperature ranges. Cooler hues, such as blue and green, are used for lower temperatures, while warm colors, such as yellow and red, are used for higher temperatures.
  • Iron color palette. This uses shades of gray and iron-like shades to represent temperatures. Darker colors represent lower temperatures, and lighter colors represent higher temperatures.

It is important to note that the hues in a thermal imaging camera are not directly related to the colors visible to the human eye but are rather used as a visual representation to help interpret temperature differences.

Rainbow color palette

How to select a thermal imaging camera – Five aspects to consider

When choosing a thermal imaging camera, it's critical to consider some key factors to ensure the device meets your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Thermal resolution. This refers to the camera's ability to distinguish the slightest temperature differences. The higher the thermal resolution, the more accurate the image will be, and the more detail can be displayed.
  2. Temperature range. Verify that the camera's temperature range is compatible with the temperature ranges you expect to measure.
  3. Thermal sensitivity and precision. That indicates the camera's ability to detect subtle temperature changes. Also, it is important to consider the camera's precision, that is, how close the actual values are to the results of the measurements.
  4. Additional features. Take a look at the additional characteristics on offer. Some include autofocus, real-time temperature measurement, image and video storage capabilities, wireless connectivity, analytics, and reporting options.
  5. Portability and durability. Consider the size and weight of the camera, especially if you plan to use it in industrial or on-the-go settings. Also, ensure the camera is durable enough to withstand environmental conditions and the harshness of daily use. Look for water, dust, and shock resistance if necessary.

How can NUTEC help you?

Our engineering and installation staff carries and manages the thermal imaging camera to inspect our clients' equipment and machinery. This is to provide a more detailed report showing heat leaks, temperature variations, anomalies, and failures, among other variables.

The information collected will allow us to deliver the most suitable solution in industrial thermal insulation according to specific needs.

Learn more about this topic and our thermal imaging services in this Customer Success Story, in which the NUTEC team identified red dots within a kiln’s structure with the help of a thermal imaging camera.

If you want to incorporate high temperature engineered solutions into your facilities or equipment, please contact us today.

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