Cyndi Nyberg Esau
Former EASA Technical Support Specialist
In today’s economic climate, service centers look for opportunities to expand their services to their customers, and therefore profits. End users are also looking to reduce costs as well as downtime. Predictive and preventative maintenance has become increasingly important in industry.
Infrared thermography (IR) has traditionally been associated with inspection of switchgear and motor control centers (MCCs), a service that has become highly competitive. This paper will focus on niche opportunities for the service center – offering or using IR for more specialized services.
Monitoring the condition of electric motor systems can detect problems that otherwise would not appear until a catastrophic failure occurs. By using thermography, abnormal heat sources that are invisible to the naked eye can be detected and remedied before a failure. This monitoring is not only limited to the motor. The motor system includes the driven equipment, MCC, cable runs, protective devices and the power supply.
While IR will be the focus of this paper, there are other tests and technologies that will be necessary to complete the evaluation of a motor system. Although a thermal image may indicate that excessive temperatures are present, more information is usually necessary to fully assess a problem. Tools like vibration analysis, current signature, insulation resistance testing, and even visual inspection, all work in conjunction with thermography to paint a complete picture.
The use of thermography is not limited to field service. The service center can employ this technology during the repair of rotating machinery. Applications include but are not limited to testing for open rotors and assessing the condition of stator and armature cores, windings, bearings and shop equipment.
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