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Back to the Basics

thermal image

Some problems don’t necessarily “shout” at you. The increase in temperature of this surge protection device in a substation is only a few degrees warmer than normal. Seeing the signature required adjusting the imager skillfully. Understanding the device could fail at any moment required additional background knowledge and clear communication with the customer.

Nothing is so important in this business as knowing the basics. That’s why I’ve often come back to such topics as adjusting level and span or emissivity or heat transfer. You can have a great imager, good training and a picture-perfect report, but if you don’t have the basics down pat, you’ll never succeed in making a difference for your customer—and making that difference is the only way to pay the bills!

thermal image of ducks

Thermographers can learn a great deal, and test their skills, by simply looking at the world around them and questioning what they see. For example, why do the reflections of the ducks in the water appear warmer than the ducks themselves? While we may not care about ducks, the thought process will help make us better themographers. More on this next week!

In the 30+ years I’ve been in this business I’ve seen many people try to cut corners to get going faster. In the end they always make mistakes, sometimes serious ones, and have to go back to get the basics right.

If you don’t fully understand every last feature of your imaging system, take some time over the next few days or weeks to do that. Even if you don’t routinely use a certain feature, learn how it works so you have it in your “tool kit” when you do need it.

Make sure your images are perfect– perfect focus, perfect perspective, and perfect level/span adjustments. Why would you settle for anything less?

Determine how you will incorporate radiometric temperature measurements into your work flow. There is no right way, but take the time to state it clearly so your customers understand what you are doing and why. Then follow your procedure.

Are you still feeling a bit fuzzy about some part of heat transfer and radiometric theory? Dive back into your training manual and/or take a webinar or class so you are 100% clear about it. I still find each time I go back to the basics I learn something new and reinforce what I already know.

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