A Flir Systems ThermaCAM P-series infrared camera has played a vital role in inspecting pumping stations along the river Tisza in Hungary, thereby helping to prevent failures that could result in flooding.
An extended system of hydraulic structures prevents one of the major rivers in Central Europe from flooding. A Flir Systems ThermaCAM P-series camera is used to inspect the numerous pumping stations in an affected district and played a key role in keeping the pumping stations up and running during the hazardous Spring 2006 floods in southwest Hungary.
The 1360km long Tisza is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It originates in Ukraine, flows partially along the Romanian border, passes through Hungary touching the border with Slovakia, and meets the Danube in Serbia. The Tisza drains an area of about 157,000km2.
Flooding has been - and still remains - a permanent danger; the Tisza has many curves and turns as it flows through one of the largest flat areas in Europe. And over the past years, its water levels have more frequently become critical, a development that some attribute to climate change. In Hungary, local authorities started as early as 1846 to build what has now become the largest flood protection system in Europe. The river features an extensive network of pumping stations that are used to divert the surplus water from the river into canals, water reservoirs and artificial lakes. These pumping stations play a vital role in flood protection and they require appropriate inspection and maintenance.
The Directorate for Environmental Protection and Water Management of the Lower Tisza District, which oversees the river basin in that area of southern Hungary, saw the need for a monitoring of its pumping infrastructure and decided to invest in a professional infrared camera, the only reliable non-contact instrument that is able to scan and visualise entire surfaces of machinery and electrical equipment quickly and accurately. They purchased a ThermaCAM P65 at Grimas Kft, the Flir Systems distributor in Hungary, who also took care of the technical aspects and customer training.
This infrared camera played an important role during the severe floods in Spring 2006, which broke previous Tisza water level records. Peter Kozak, Manager at the Lower Tisza Water Management Directorate, says: "Thanks to continuous monitoring with the infrared camera, the more than one hundred pump stations in our district did not fail during that critical period." A sudden breakdown of a pumping station would not only enlarge the flooded area; hydraulic pressure, caused by the high water level, would badly damage the infrastructure on the dykes as well.
Luckily, Kozak's colleague, Karoly Fiala, started to systematically inspect all mechanical and electrical installations of the area before the severe flooding. Fiala says: "Before using the thermal camera, we used to check every single item by hand. This was time-consuming and quite risky. And we were not able to examine the stations during operation.
"The ThermaCAM P65 is a truly professional camera that allows us to work easily and quickly. We made hundreds of images. And the faults we found were repaired according to their priority."
Problems spotted were:
Moreover, the thermal camera, combined with the expertise of the inspector, enabled the components requiring replacement to be readily identified. This was a substantial asset; some fuses cost more than EUR400, and thousands of these are in operation.
Grimas Manager Csaba Wesser, who provided training and support and guided the two engineers through their first inspection rounds, comments: "Without thermography, the inspection and maintenance of the pumping stations and other infrastructure during operation would be complicated, risky and difficult."
Meanwhile, the Lower Tisza Directorate has set up a continuous monitoring scheme for the pumping stations: Tisza floods endanger up to a quarter of the surface of Hungary, an area of approximately 23,500km2, where 20 per cent of the population live and work.
And ongoing climate change will make a consistent maintenance of the flood prevention infrastructure even more vital.