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Working Together to Move Us Forward

I’ve talked in a past blog post about the building inspection standards and protocols our industry has adopted. I hope no one thinks me sacrilegious when I refer to these inspection standards as “recipes,” but that really is what they are. Just as a cook follows a standard recipe to consistently bake a great cake, we thermographers follow standards to get the best results, ideally, every time we work.

I’ve had the privilege of working on various inspection standards writing committees over the years, dealing with a variety of issues related to the use of thermography, from medical applications to condition monitoring, from non-destructive testing of aircraft to building diagnostics. I’ve learned so much in the process from other “cooks,” and have had the satisfaction of making my own contributions.

In nearly every case, the committees and the inspection standards writing processes share several things in common:

• The committees are made up of professionals who volunteer their time. In short, we do it because we want to help progress in our field.

• The interests among members are typically balanced so no group or faction can dominate unfairly.

• The writing process follows an agreed-upon set of procedures that is transparent to all, while also always including a period for public comment.

• The work is based on consensus of all involved. If I vote “no” on an item, my opinion must be found either “irrelevant” or the committee must address it in another fashion. This is one of the most remarkable parts of committee work as it keeps all of us listening to each other, and as honest as we can be!

• The volunteer work is supported by a core staff of paid professionals. The often thankless “nuts and bolts” work of keeping the committee on-time and on-task is typically ably born by these “saints”!

• Writing is done in subcommittees, either face-to-face or online, so that each person, if they want, truly has the opportunity to apply their skills and expertise to the issues at hand.

• Each individual can have significant, persuasive influence, but you also must be willing to compromise. Again, part of the power of working in this kind of group setting is that everyone agrees that no one who is participating fully will be left out.

The motors in these images (before and after repairs) were taken by an I&E engineer solving a problem related to lubrication; a further discussion can be found at IRTalk. A new suite of standards from the International Standards Organization (ISO), ISO 18434, addresses these sorts of issues directly, by involving thermography, vibration, ultrasound and oil analysis in a comprehensive methodology. Image courtesy Metin Saglam

It is a mix that seems to work well nearly every time, even if we have occasionally had a glitch or two. While the end result has been many useful standards that all of us can use, there is much work left to be done.

If you have an interest in working on standards, I’d encourage you to jump into the process. There is active work being done in all areas of application. If you have specific interests or questions, just let me know via the ‘comments’ section and I will do my best to respond promptly. Working together, we can make this thermography profession stronger for all of us.

Spring is happening in Vermont and our 3’+ of snow is finally melting! Next week I might just have to talk about Thinking Thermally again.

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

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