For Belmont NDT and Quality Services, the ability to provide its customers with the most accurate assessment of plant health and efficiency relies on a range of technologies. For this reason, this Leeds based company knew its offering to industry was not complete without thermal imaging.
Having now invested in a FLIR T335 infrared camera, however, Belmont's MD Matt Clarke has already been surprised at its findings. He says: "We have found several critical problems since we've had the camera. And that is allowing us to prevent costly downtime for our customers."
Manufacturing and production, across a wide range of industries, are established markets for Belmont NDT. The company prides itself on its quality systems - international standards and both sector- and company-specific approvals. For example, in addition to NADCAP accreditation, Belmont NDT has AS9100 Revision C, ISO 9001:2008 and Rolls Royce approvals.
The scope of its work includes writing and reviewing maintenance procedures, analysis of standard requirements, auditing and training - in short, a complete NDT and preventative maintenance service.
Indeed, it was Matt Clarke's NDT experience that reinforced his determination to undertake the highest level of certified training in order to provide his customers with the best thermal imaging service possible. Having completed Level I earlier this year with FLIR ITC, Matt is now adding to his current Level III portfolio by completing his Level III qualification in predictive maintenance, an achievement that will put him amongst the UK's elite thermographers.
Matt Clarke continues: "I covered thermal imaging in my Open University degree, but even Level I taught me so much more. My Level III qualification will not only allow me to create customer-specific predictive maintenance programmes for thermography and conduct in-depth surveys, but also enable me to add IR training and certification to Belmont's list of services."
FLIR's T335 thermal imaging camera is the basis of this new business opportunity and it was chosen because it provided the best ratio of value to budget. Its image quality, portability and on-board memory were the key features highlighted by Matt Clarke.
The camera includes both an IR and digital camera, picture-in-picture fusion, touch screen, interchangeable optics and the FLIR T-Series hallmark, a tiltable lens. The FLIR T335 applies 2 per cent thermal accuracy and 0.05degC thermal sensitivity across a wide temperature range. FLIR's patented radiometric JPEG format enhances the camera's reporting flexibility, allowing images to be easily incorporated into emails and Word documents for customers.
To identify the best FLIR model for Belmont's needs, Matt Clarke sought the advice of FLIR distributor Crimson Industrial Vision Limited based in Tunbridge Wells. Indeed, he was quick to praise the company's application knowledge and honest dealings. He says: "Crimson lent us different camera models to try out and provided valuable guidance on the most suitable for what we needed, not just immediately, but in the longer term."
The camera swiftly paid dividends for Belmont on a project for a company in the utility sector. Belmont has systematically undertaken thermographic surveys of electro-mechanical plant for this customer, resulting in five-figure cost savings through failure prevention. And this success has led to Belmont's further engagement to monitor the efficiency of plant at the customer's new waste-to-energy site.
Matt Clarke adds: "We're not just finding the FLIR camera useful for looking at the efficiency of old plant. There are even more instances where new plant isn't correctly set-up and the camera shows evidence of that too."
Although Belmont NDT is clearly deriving early benefit from its FLIR investment, its wider potential and many features are still being explored. One growth area for the company is in identifying electrical faults in fully energised systems. Building thermography is another hot prospect. In the short term, however, Matt Clarke is discovering that thermography has its own way of generating more business.
He explains: "We were recently contracted to look at the efficiency of several 250kW motors. Whilst I was waiting for vibration monitoring results I scanned the plant with my FLIR T335 and found two abnormally hot cable feeds. As a result of that discovery and our ability to show the customer the problem visually, we have now been asked to check out other plant and systems for signs of other serious faults."
For more information about thermal imaging products from FLIR, please visit www.flir.com/thg/.