We have several customers that we visit and perform infrared scans for on a regular basis. Recently we were in a textile mill in a state where we’ve been performing inspecting for the past four years. The equipment list has remained virtually unchanged in the time we’ve been inspecting there. The only variances were during shutdowns for predictive maintenance actions that correspond to our visits.
There has been a trend occurring at this particular textile mill over the years that we first noticed last year. On our semi-annual visit last year we found only four thermal anomalies in the entire plant. For the scope of the job, that’s a pretty small number. On our second visit last year we found only three. Mind you, the three anomalies found on the second visit of last year weren’t repeats. They were three new problems, previously undetected. They were lower-grade issues found in control panels. No problems in the primary distribution equipment at all. On my most recent visit I was shocked to find no anomalies at all. Zero, zilch, none!
This is what could be termed as a great return on investment! The steady application of reliability testing revealed failures and initiated repair actions, and the effect over a four year period has been measureable. Once we first noticed the reduction in the number of items discovered in our inspection, we started asking questions of the maintenance folks that had hired us to do the work in the first place. In the four year period that we had been inspecting for them, they had seen an 11% improvement in unscheduled downtime. In the first half of this year they have had no equipment failures that resulted in lost production time.
Obviously a closer look would be preferred so we could more closely measure the impact of our inspection efforts. Unfortunately, this particular customer’s reliability program is in its infancy, and they’re not measuring all of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that a more advanced program might.
The first inspection we performed for them four years ago yielded nearly 20 anomalies, many of which were in critical electrical distribution apparatus. The improvement in this case is fairly obvious, and a testament to the value of thermal imaging.
Think Thermally, www.thesnellgroup.com The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner