Much of the thermography done in petrochemical plants and refineries is done by thermal imager. This is the most effective way to find problem areas, such as connections that have corroded and transformers and switchgear that have failed.
However, the use of thermal imaging often stops with the most obvious safety concerns. Once these are checked and secured, you can also use thermal imaging to monitor a range of other equipment in industrial environments. You can perform refractory inspection to ensure materials are holding up to high temperatures. You can monitor heaters, boilers, and furnaces. Thermal imaging is particularly useful when monitoring heat exchangers. Thermography is also useful for monitoring steam lines, safety valves, and steam turbines.
You can even take your thermal imagers out for a spin, checking equipment used in pumping and transport. Consider visiting other facilities to see their procedures and share data, and offer the same to others. When it comes to safety, we’re all in this together.
Always begin with what’s critical. Don’t set aside the equipment whose failure poses the most risk in order to delve into the less important items on your list. Ensure your environment is safe and that those pieces of equipment that pose a real threat in the case of failure are checked first. Only then should you move on to the rest of your checklist.
Don’t just check for what’s happening now, either. Check for what might happen down the road. If a motor’s perfectly fine now, but there’s build-up that is putting extra stress on it, this may cause it to fail down the road. Don’t wait to address the issue only once it becomes a problem. Handle it before it hits that stage and you’ll extend the life of your equipment. Monitor the equipment you judge to be particularly stressed more often. If something is nearing a real risk of failure, you’ll want to make sure it gets extra attention.
Most importantly, ensure that this data is being recorded and not just monitored in that moment, but over time as well. Being able to compare data points over a period of weeks, months, and years can tell you more about the story of certain pieces of equipment than simply observing what it’s doing right this very second.