Flir thermal imaging cameras play an important part in the predictive maintenance inspection programme at the Fiat factory in Melfi, Italy, where several different models are assembled.
Given the fact that the Fiat factory in Melfi produces cars at an astounding rate of 250,000 per year, it is crucial that the system keeps running all the time. To achieve that goal Fiat needs to ensure that every electrical or mechanical fault is spotted and repaired before it becomes a production-disrupting failure. Detecting those faults in time is the task of RAITECH Industrial Technologies Srl, a company specialising in technical assistance for industrial machinery.
According to RAITECH's thermography specialist Aldo Alliata the thermography inspections using thermal imaging cameras from Flir Systems are becoming increasingly important: "Thermal imaging technology is the only tool that really allows you to see the problem."
Recently Alliata has been able to add even greater value to his thermographic inspections at Fiat Melfi with Flir's Meterlink connectivity. It consists of a Bluetooth connection between the Flir thermal imaging camera and an Extech EX845 clamp meter. The measurement data is automatically embedded in the corresponding radiometric thermal image. This new functionality greatly improves the accuracy and speed of the thermal imaging inspections, according to Alliata.
The correlation between temperature and electrical load is well established and for many years thermographers have included load ratings where relevant. Alliata explains: "The most common way of doing this is to take readings using a clamp meter, write the measurements down on paper and add them to the report later on." Alliata is a certified Level 3 thermographer and, just like most other consultants, he performs more than 100 inspections per year. During all those inspections he processes a lot of data and it would be all too easy for readings from different instruments to get lost or be mixed up.
Flir's Meterlink connectivity feature is available on a variety of cameras including the Flir T335 thermal imaging camera used at the Fiat factory in Melfi. It is suitable for a wide range of electromechanical inspection tasks that are common at larger industrial plants.
Alliata finds the Flir T335 with Meterlink connectivity is a great asset: "The menu system of the Flir T335 camera is intuitive and easy to use and it has many analysis tools that can be set up according to the needs of the job. The Meterlink feature allows the camera to receive data automatically from an Extech EX845 clamp meter and this is a function that is easier to use than I expected. Its effectiveness is obvious, both in the field inspection and at the post report processing stage."
Alliata says that the availability of Meterlink means he is much more likely to take the time to use the clamp meter because it is easier and faster than using paper notes. "I simply apply the clamp meter and the Meterlink system will automatically embed that reading in the appropriate radiometric thermal image."
The saved measurements are fully accessible in the Flir analysis and reporting software Flir Reporter and easily added in the results tables. This eliminates all possibility of any mix-up. Alliata concludes: "This combination of a Flir thermal imaging camera and an Extech clamp meter completely rules out the possibility of confusing the location, the equipment or load data from individual faults. In the field I can work more quickly, while it also reduces the amount of time I have to spend in the office, which, in turn, allows me to spend more time with customers."
For RAITECH's customers, such as the Fiat factory in Melfi, these benefits are equally valuable. The company has the assurance that the thermal imaging inspections are conducted more thoroughly, accurately and swiftly so that maintenance resources can be more effectively targeted.
Follow the link for more information about the Flir T335 thermal imaging camera.