Adding value when we can

As professional thermographers we have a duty of care to our clients. There are many opportunities, beyond OH&S, to further educate and inform our clients as to features and benefits of thermography applications relevant to their industry, that they may not be aware of.

Many of us carry out surveys, audits and inspections of electrical infrastructure. Whenever I am contacted to provide a quote for a job, I’ll ask a few questions about the type of facilities, whether its retail, commercial, manufacturing or industrial, amongst others. I gain a good basic understanding of who they are, what they do and what they want looked at, which initially is often “just a few switchboards”.

Some time ago I was approached by a small but very successful plastic injection moulding and upholstery company in the automotive industry. I convinced them to look at the Machine Control Centres and Mechanical Services Switch Boards as well as the electrical supply and distribution switch boards.

Having arrived at the site, I asked the electrician who was to accompany me, what type of HV supply transformer they had and where it’s located. I highly recommended we look at that too, if possible.

It turned out to be ground mounted, however it was in a yard fully enclosed by a 2.4 metre high corrugated iron fence, and no keys to the gate. Often these types of yards are enclosed by a wire- mesh fence; completely see through by comparison to corrugated iron.

Undaunted, a scissor lift was wheeled out, and with due care in relation to possible overhead hazards, we rose to the occasion and were able to look over the top of the fence down into the yard.

What is this?   This is the mystery Thermographic image

The outcome is the detection of a serious fault in the red phase supply isolation link. Immediate repair being required.

The supply company would probably have done their duty of care – doing their scheduled surveys, but maybe due to the high fence or maybe due to low/no load condition they might not have found a fault. The opportunity for the thermographer to do this “additional” test is to ensure the supply to very critical infrastructure for the customer, which in the case of a breakdown the customer has no control over, is tested under a known and hopefully high load. The supply company probably tries their best, but may not be sure of the customer’s operational load when they check the transformer and associated HV/LV connections.

This is just one example of how we can exercise a duty of care and add value for the client.

Author: Steve Bowman
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