IRIS Associates

  Why Infrared Thermography 

Infrared inspections provide a means to view systems (electrical, mechanical, building envelopes) under normal operating conditions to identify abnormally hot (or cool) areas or components. This is a powerful maintenance tool.  In many instances, equipment failure is preceded by a period of increasing heat.  This is especially true of electrical equipment.

With infrared thermography you can identify overheating electrical connections and other machine components, scheduling repairs to be made during planned downtime.  This increases reliability and productivity for the entire operation.

The Benefits of a 

More Reliable and Productive System Include:

Financial Savings:

  • Fewer interruptions while in operation mean more uptime and greater productivity.

  • Equipment problems are fixed before they fail and damage or destroy the rest of the machine.

  • Identifying developing problems and planning the repairs results in fewer “panic situations”, those costly predicaments that force excessive overtime and monetary premiums for emergency rush equipment orders.


  • An industrial process that runs reliably and without surprises produces a safer work environment.  Many industrial processes are complex and run at high speed.  A sudden failure on one machine can have a cascading effect of failures that may include flying debris.

  • Fire avoidance.  Overheated electrical connections can start fires.  You may have heard of a fire in your area that it was caused by “faulty wiring”.  This means many things including bad design and overloaded circuits.  It also commonly means a bad electrical connection that was overheating and was not found in time.


  • A process that runs reliably will produce higher quality than a process that experiences sudden stops, mechanical wrecks, and a lack of maintenance to key components.

(Click any picture to see a larger image.)

Overload Heater Before Repair

Infrared thermography inspections require no direct contact with the machinery, and must be performed while the equipment is running and under normal loaded conditions.  This provides a safe means to inspect equipment and the benefit of continued operation during the inspection.

The right phase overload heater had a loose and dirty connection at the top mounting screw.

This could cause the motor to drop out, stopping the process.  It may eventually burn off and cause extensive damage or fire.After the repair, all is normal.

Notice that the contactor closing coil appears warmer than in the “before” picture.  This is due to the different limits set on the temperature scale at the left.

If the temperature difference is due to a hot electrical connection, abnormal friction, or a breakdown of thermal insulation, then a problem exists and will only get worse over time.  If left to deteriorate on its own the “hot spot” will eventually fail in service with unwanted consequences, ranging from expensive down time and ruined equipment, to electrical fires, panic situations, and the wrath of your fellow employees.

Overload Heater After Repair

IR inspections are used in a field of industrial maintenance called “predictive maintenance”.  Predictive maintenance is the practice of regularly checking certain physical operating characteristics (like temperature) to detect degenerating conditions.  Usually a system or component in the early stages of failure will give off signals (heat, vibration, ultrasonic noise etc.) that are undetectable to normal senses.  With the right technology and the knowledge to use it, these signals become apparent.

4160 Volt Transformer - Before Inspection

Other predictive maintenance techniques include vibration analysis, oil analysis, electrical insulation testing, and ultrasonic testing.  They are not discussed on this web site but can be found elsewhere on the web.  You can visit our Infrared Links section as a start.

On this 4160 volt transformer, the center phase high voltage bushings and the line connection is running hot. 

After investigation and repair all bushings and connections are normal.


A person who knows what to look for can pinpoint the area of concern, take thermal pictures, and measure temperatures to help determine the severity of the problem.  This information is then used while planning repairs.  The result is that deteriorating components are repaired before failing in service.  IRIS Associates is the company you want for your inspection program.

4160 Volt Transformer After Repair

Mr. Maury Confer is the principle at IRIS Associates and has over 20 years of electrical and mechanical maintenance engineering experience. This includes not only infrared thermography inspections, but also a wide variety of other inspection and testing techniques.  This diverse body of experience enables Mr. Confer to bring exceptional insight and value to your infrared thermography program.  See About IRIS Associates.


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