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What to know to deliver thermal imaging to farm and agribusiness customers

March 28, 2023

With a lot of the equipment on large farms and agribusinesses today, heat can be the enemy. A machine component “running hot” can foreshadow not just a breakdown, but something way worse like a fire or explosion.

Helping customers add thermal imaging scans to their routine maintenance strategy can help mitigate these risks and enable operators to maintain efficient, effective equipment. Plus, providing thermal imaging services to customers can be differentiating for your agency.

What thermal imaging is all about

Thermal imaging essentially provides operators a “sixth sense” in maintaining equipment in the field and many common farm and agribusiness facilities that house grain storage, milling and processing operations. A system of thermal cameras and software show and record temperature anomalies, namely excessive heat.

Why is monitoring for temperature anomalies so important?

High temperatures in and around equipment and machinery components like bearings and electrical circuitry may indicate looming failure. And that can mean anything from a few minutes of downtime to catastrophic loss. It makes thermal imaging a valuable tool in preventing that range of outcomes through proactive monitoring and management.

In one recent example, a routine thermal imaging scan revealed a breaker box inside a dairy barn registered a temperature over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Further inspection and repair by a certified electrician revealed the breaker box was near failure and represented an imminent fire hazard. The thermal imaging scan likely prevented catastrophic loss of facilities and livestock.

Common trouble spots for temperature anomalies

Early identification of potential “hot spots” is like pinpointing a small water leak in a levee so you can patch it before it becomes a flooding breach. It’s a way to be more proactive with equipment, machinery and facility maintenance, especially with components that are most prone to failure or damage because of excessive heat. That includes:

  • Electrical wiring, especially loose, corroded, overtightened or improperly sized connections
  • Breakers, fuses and starters
  • Motors, bearings, gearboxes, belts and couplers
  • Conveyors and bucket elevators

Thermal imaging’s role in routine maintenance

Today’s thermal imaging sensors generate thermal images that show the full heat spectrum of anything they scan, providing a quick snapshot of operating temperatures and any anomalies in them. When employed during routine maintenance over time, they can also show equipment and component temperature trends that enable operators to make adjustments to ensure everything is running in optimal temperature ranges.

Finally, they can minimize downtime, with operators able to make repairs and conduct other preventative maintenance before component or machine failure. This ultimately helps farmers and agribusiness managers sustain revenue potential without the disruptions caused by extended downtime. And it reduces the potential for losses caused by equipment failures caused by fire.