Based in Wallasey, North-West England, PFE Limited has been using thermal imaging for more than 15 years for mechanical, electrical, and process-related inspections. One of the more specialized types of inspections that PFE Limited offers isfurnace inspections, for which the company is using a FLIR Exx-Series pistol-grip camera.
“We used to go on site for our inspections, combining the use of a thermal imaging camera with some kind of clipboard or electronic tablet,” says Jake Ford, reliability & mechanical Engineer at PFE Limited. “For every asset and every image taken with our thermal camera, we used to jot down numbers and comments on a separate device. This was not only unpractical, but it also took twice the time we spend on inspections today. Thanks to the introduction of the FLIR Thermal Studio software, we were able to cut our inspection time in half.”
The FLIR Route Creator plugin allows users to create pre-planned routes in FLIR Thermal Studio for their inspections. Routes can be downloaded to any FLIR thermal camera that has FLIR Inspection Route on-board software, and then run from the camera itself. This means inspectors no longer need to carry two separate items, helps them stay organized when surveying large or multiple locations, and above all, ensures they don’t miss any assets or inspection areas.
Also, inspection routes are not always linear; PFE Limited engineers do not always follow the same order. They often skip certain assets and need to go back and forth. With a simple clipboard or tablet, the risk of missing assets from inspections is much higher. When Inspection Route is active on the camera, the progress in the pre-planned route is always clearly visible and the software tells the user exactly which assets are left to do. “A typical furnace inspection used to take us about four hours. Now, we can easily complete it in two hours,” says Ford.
FLIR Thermal Studio enables users to post-process images in batch. This accelerates the entire process and reduces desk time significantly.
“Especially, with furnace inspections, there is often some post-processing involved,” Ford explains. “Obviously, hot spots are part of a furnace, so not every hot spot is problematic. This means that we often have to manipulate the image and demarcate or annotate the area of interest. We can now choose to present the images in FLIR’s UltraMax mode, rotate them and draw a square around them, all in one single batch process. Before using FLIR Thermal Studio, we needed to do this on each individual image, now we can do this in batch. This makes FLIR Thermal Studio a huge time-saver.”