FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power Sector

FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras can add considerable value for uninterrupted power supply at homes during the pandemic, if thermal Imaging cameras are used in a proper way says TP Singh, Sales Director – Emerging Markets-Ins, FLIR Systems. FLIR has been serving the electrical utility market ever since it came up with its first thermal imaging camera some 40 years ago for detection of faults in a switchyard, reveals Singh in an interview with Powertech Review. The company offers a large basket of innovative products and solutions including thermal inspection for preventive maintenance in electrical utilities. Excerpts:


Q. FLIR is a formidable name in Thermal Imaging as well as Test & Measurement. How closely do you work with the electrical industry?

FLIR is a well-known name in the Electrical Utility market. We have been working with our customers worldwide to keep their networks running efficiently for over four decades. Our initial camera developed was carried to a switchyard on a van. From then FLIR has travelled a long way with innovations as a result of our self funded R&D. Over the years we have come up with a plethora of advanced Thermal Cameras along with Test & Measurement products under our Instruments Division for electrical, oil & gas, manufacturing, fire and R&D markets.

Q. The year 2020 was an exceptional year for all of us. What was your experience with respect to business, especially considering the point that FLIR has a large customer base of Electrical Utilities?

Indeed, 2020 was a new experience from many angles, including business. Along with surge in elevated skin temperature monitoring requirements, business slowly started coming from electrical Utilities. Kudos to all the frontline workforce in all these utilities who put in relentless efforts to ensure uninterrupted power supply at our homes during these difficult days to keep the operations on and running with more efficiency, entailing less faults with minimum exposure of workforce in the field. That’s where sophisticated technologies like FLIR Thermal Imaging cameras add a lot of value. Hence there has been continuous demand.

Q. What are your new offerings to the Electrical network?

FLIR has multiple offerings to utilities as per details below:
For Transmission Utilities:
FLIR T860 is a new product which has multiple features for smooth operation for carrying tough functions by Transmission utility engineers. Some of the key features are as follows:

  • Unique accuracy of +/- 1 Deg C. This accuracy is difficult to achieve and that’s where FLIR’s in-house 50 plus years of experience and R&D efforts add a lot of value.
  • 180 Deg rotation of optics which gives no stress on neck or shoulder of the operator and makes the scanning job much easier.
  • Another key feature is viewfinder: Although it has touch screen, any high resolution screen will give unwanted glare during bright sun which is present in most parts of India.FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power Sector
  • FLIR Inspection Route: This is a new advanced feature in this product. You can save the key points to be scanned by field staff and upload the same to camera. The staff keeps on taking the images, marking it done and storing. Camera will automatically store these images as per allocation. Once back-connect SD card or camera to PC, all images as per location and route marked will come on your PC as per directions given. During the next scanning, new images will be uploaded against old ones making analysis very easy to see what are key changes happening. This is a game changing feature, very useful for electrical utilities.

For Distribution Utilities:
We have multiple products here too, but new ones are

FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power SectorA) E96-The FLIR E96 is our first pistol-grip camera with 640 × 480 thermal resolution so inspectors can survey high-voltage, hazardous targets safely and quickly diagnose electrical and mechanical failures. Interchangeable AutoCal™ lenses offer complete coverage of near and distant targets, with the laser distance meter ensuring the crisp focus needed for accurate temperature measurement.

FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power Sector

B) VP 52-2: A rugged and reliable, easy to use non contact voltage detector. It has a unique feature of vibration. VP52-2 can withstand 3 m drop test and can reliably test for voltage in the latest safety outlets, large industrial electrical systems, and residential low-voltage installations

FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power Sector

C) CM-275: The FLIR CM275 clamp meter combines thermal imaging with electrical measurement into powerful inspection, troubleshooting, and diagnostic tool. With the help of new concept- IGM- Infrared Guided Measurement , the CM275 provides a reliable way to identify hot spots and overloaded circuits from a safe distance. Operator can confirm findings with the clamp meter’s wide range of functions plus temperature readings. The FLIR CM275 also provides connectivity to upload images or data to the FLIR mobile app.

FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power Sector

D) FLIR Inspection Route : The user can complete inspections efficiently and reduce reporting time by 50% with the FLIR Route Creator. This special software allows you to build an inspection path for every location survey that you can either print or download and run from a thermal camera that has FLIR Inspection Route enabled. Inspection Route directs you through the preplanned survey so you can acquire temperature data and thermal images in a logical sequence. This helps automate data management and allows you to easily maintain historical records for improved predictive maintenance.

For Hydropower utilities
A) T1020K: The FLIR T1020 offers remarkable temperature measurement range, up to 3.1 MP resolution (with UltraMax®), and a modern, intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) that will streamline your workday. Features such as MSX® and 1-Touch Level/Span enhance image quality and contrast, so you can interpret images on-screen and make crucial decisions in the field. When paired with FLIR OSX™ Precision HDIR optics, these true HD cameras measure temperature with the highest accuracy and deliver stunning image quality. For the sharpest images, the truest temperatures, and utmost flexibility, T1K cameras are the tool of choice for the thermography expert.

FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power Sector

Q. What are the typical maintenance issues faced by engineers in Electrical Panels and what are the solutions FLIR can offer?

Heat is an important factor in high voltage installations. When electrical current passes through a resistive element, it generates heat. An increased resistance results in an increase in heat. Over time the resistance of electrical connections will increase, due to loosening and corrosion for instance. The corresponding rise in temperature can cause components to fail, resulting in unplanned outages and even injuries. In addition, the energy spent on generating heat causes unnecessary energy losses. If left unchecked, the heat can even rise to the point where connections melt and break down; as a result, fires may break out. Electrical Engineers face many issues due to this.

Examples of failures in high-voltage installations that can be detected with thermal imaging:

  • Oxidation of high voltage switches
  • Overheated connections
  • Incorrectly secured connections
  • Insulator defects

These and other issues can be spotted at an early stage with a thermal imaging camera. A thermal imaging camera will help you to accurately locate the problem, determine the severity of the problem, and establish the time frame in which the equipment should be repaired.

One of the many advantages of thermal imaging is the ability to perform inspections while electrical systems are under load. Since thermal imaging is a non-contact diagnostic method, a thermographer can quickly scan a particular piece of equipment from a safe distance, leave the hazardous area, return to his office and analyze the data.

Due to the fact that FLIR’s thermal imaging cameras for industrial applications are also handheld and battery operated, they can be used for outdoor inspections: high voltage substations, switchgear, transformers, and outdoor circuit breakers can be inspected quickly and efficiently with a thermal imaging camera from FLIR Systems.

Continuity is very important to utilities since many people rely on their services. Therefore thermal imaging inspections have become the core of utility predictive maintenance programs throughout the world.

FLIR can provide the most advanced thermal imaging solutions to support 24/7 monitoring programs that keep the vital electrical power grid up and running.

Q. What type of services are available in India for these FLIR units

FLIR team is available for all technical, pre and post sales clarifications for Indian customers. We also have a service center in Delhi which has calibration facility.

FLIR: Transforming Technology into Solutions for Power Sector

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