TICs enhancing life of thermal power plants

Parag Yelegaonkar, Business Development Manager, Testo India talks about the importance of thermal imaging cameras in the power sector, his company’s most advanced thermal imaging cameras, and more in an email interaction with Electrical India.

Why thermal imaging is important in electrical industry?

Due to growth in demand for electricity in domestic, industrial sector and corresponding growth in the generation, transmission and distribution, the market for proper Testing and Measurement (T&M) equipment continues to grow at a steady pace. The awareness and trend of predictive maintenance and health monitoring of electrical equipment has become the most significant part of the electrical industry and thus, thermal imaging cameras become so necessary as they ensure better availability and efficiency of the electrical assets.

While talking about the technical aspect or the process, when electrical energy flows in an electrical circuit, there is conversion from electrical energy to thermal energy. As resistance to the flow of electrical energy increases, surface temperature of component increases as well as a result additional infrared energy is emitted from the surface of the object and the thermal camera detects this deviation.

What types of electrical equipment can Thermal Imaging Cameras (TIC) survey?

Thermal imaging cameras basically work on the thermal profiling principle and detect any thermal anomaly or temperature difference over a surface. Thus, it can be used for thermal inspection of multiple electrical components such as substation equipment like transformers, circuit breaker, CT / PT / isolators, capacitor bank, lighting arrestors, transmission line. They have applications for distribution panels, switchgears, circuit boards, wire lines and many more.

General problems occurred in electrical system for which thermal inspection can be used include poor connections, corrosion, harmonics, component failure, excessive loads, unbalanced loads, mechanical failure etc.

What is your most advanced Thermal Imaging Cameras in this segment?

Our latest solution to the industry is the new range of Thermal Imagers with smartphone integration designed to deliver networked thermography mostly used for predictive and preventive maintenance in the electric sector. The unbeatable price-performance ratio of the models testo 865, testo 868, testo 871 and testo 872 clearly show that top quality ‘Made in Germany’ product and an attractive price are not mutually exclusive.

What are its unique features?

Testo Thermal Imagers become first choice of the end users and distributors due to German engineering and its unique features at an affordable price. Testo instruments are rugged and most suitable for the extensive field use even in harsh environments. Due to its user friendliness, it becomes choice of unskilled people or beginners as well.

What are its particular applications in power sector?

Power sector plays a very crucial role in the industry and one cannot afford to experience a shut down or higher lead time of the power plants and grid failure. Many a time, maintenance engineers encounter problems like power losses, system failures and at worse even accidents, which are uninvited and unforeseen.

Thermal imagers are very important for the enhancement of life of any power plant. Right from the beginning i.e. installation phase thermal imagers can be used for setting up benchmark parameters and for all kinds of troubleshooting jobs. Consider the power generation phase of a power plant where a small lapse in preventive and predictive maintenance can lead to highly unsafe conditions. Most importantly, in power transmission and distribution (T&D) segment like, the electrical connection points and insulators for overhead power lines in substations or the overhead power lines in high-voltage systems, switchyards and transmission lines (up to point of coupling) must be regularly checked for routine maintenance for thermal anomalies detection purposes. For inaccessible locations testing and checking can be done by thermal inspection as a predictive maintenance tool from a safe distance, without endangering the user or without needing a shut down the entire power transmission network.

Testo India provides testo 885 and testo 890 high end thermal imagers that can be used to conduct thermal inspections in transmission lines and switchgears, up to 765KV voltage level, using a super telephoto lens with correspondingly high resolution, conveniently from the ground. Along with that a very advantageous feature of ‘site recognition’ is also available in the IR soft software of this thermal imager. Continuous thermal inspection becomes a mandate for the entire Power sector & that’s where Testo extends its support and expertise to the industry and its users.

What kind of market potential do you envisage for Thermal Imaging Cameras?

Considering the rapid growth in power segment and electrical equipment manufacturing the potential is very huge. All power transmission utilities including PGCIL, State TRANSCO, GENCO and DISCOM provide the largest share of opportunities to these products. Also, the industries associated with the manufacturing of power transformers, switchyard equipment have high requirements for thermal imagers. With the kind of features and application areas that our thermal imagers carter to, we are very positive about the future of our instruments.