Aging infrastructure in power distribution grids are at risk of causing blackouts and brownouts in their respective regions. One of the contributing factors for this is the lack of an automated thermal detection system that exposes critical problems at substations, such as transformer fluid leaks or internal insulation breakdown, which in turn cascades to overheating and a series of failures. This can cause massive problems at banking facilities, security systems, manufacturing plants, food refrigeration, communication networks, and traffic control systems. Repairs and other preparations to get electric facilities up and running again will incur considerable cost and time, luckily there's a way to save from ever encountering challenges of this degree.
In the mid to late 1980s, utility companies first began using infrared scanning inspection to monitor condition of their substations. But it was only in the early 1990s when this practice achieved remarkable results due to improvements in camera technology and increased resolution provided by the focal plane array.
Saying that substation maintenance is tedious and dangerous work is an understatement. Substations are vast machineries, and they are typically made up of thousands of bolted, crimped, and sliding connections and contacts. There’s no room for errors in keeping critical components in good working condition, such as lighting arresters, transformers, oil-filled circuit breakers, capacitor banks, voltage regulators, control cabinets, and battery rooms.
It’s a good thing that infrared scanning is such a remarkably effective method for substation maintenance, mainly because it’s non-invasive. Thermographers get readings by capturing several thermal images during an aerial survey on the facility. Readings are achieved even when the facility is operating at peak load. Since this method relies on thermal images instead of manual ocular inspection, safety risks and misreadings are minimized
In the field of substation maintenance, infrared scanning is still a method that's widely used today. Putting effort in inspection work more than pays for itself. In addition to preventing outages, this help keep maintenance staff safe and puts you in good position to avoid any unnecessary costs.