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Supporting Your Work

Last week I talked about the value of following professional standards. Not only do they lay out the best “recipe” for success but standards are also widely accepted as “collateral” in most industries where we work. By following standards, your work will immediately gain credibility.

Section 14 of ASTM C-1153, Standard Practice for Location of Wet Insulation in Roofing Systems Using Infrared Imaging, clearly states what data needs to be collected and included in the report if the work is to comply with this important professional document.

A key component of all standards is documentation. Not only do the images need to be documented, but the data about the conditions before and during the work. In order to make your life simple and your work effective, I urge you to make data collection as systematic as possible. There are few things worse than scrambled or missing data but some of us had to learn that fact the hard way! Please learn from my mistakes.

Nearly all standards have a list of data that should be recorded for the entire job. Such things as air temperature, wind speed and direction, building type, time of day/night, etc. are all captured for the entire inspection. Of course, if there is any change during the inspection, that should be noted. The check list you work from for your inspection should key directly to the standard you are following.

With regard to the inspection itself, more data needs to be collected for each and every image. Many new thermal images make this documentation very easy by providing both a simultaneous visual image and either text or voice annotation. While the visual image may not always be perfect(due to poor lighting, lack of detail, etc) it is typically good enough to provide basic identification information later should any questions arise. Gone are the days of matching up separate visual and thermal images! Still, when faced with abnormally bright or dark scenes, take the time to make sure the visual image is adequate.

Fluke’s new IR-PhotoNotes system provides another brilliant means of documentation by linking associated images. You can, for example, take a visual image of the identification numbers on the front of an electrical enclosure and associate it with the thermal image of what is inside. I predict you’ll find this feature very useful!

I find the voice annotation feature to be very useful. I like to script what I’m going to say so that I know I’ve gotten all the details in the proper order when I listen to them while writing the report. For example, in a building I’ll clearly state (1) floor level, (2) direction of view, (3) exterior or interior wall, and (4) a quick description of what I’m seeing. If I’m in a motor control center (MCC), I might state (1) equipment identification numbers, (2) type of device, (3) phase and line/load side on which the problem is found, (4) load across the phases and again, (5) a quick description of what I’m seeing.

One bushing on an oil-filled circuit breaker can look just like another one after a long day’s work. Good documentation is critical to success. You don’t want to point the repair crews to the wrong bushing or have them miss this one that may well be ready to cause an outage.

Text annotation, whether in the imager or in the report template, should be keyed to the voice annotation so that you can listen to your voice and quickly fill in the related text. That, in turn, should show up directly in the merged report. What a time savings that all can be!

Take the time to streamline the data you record. Get what you need and do it in a systematic fashion. The investment will pay handsome returns when it comes time to write your report,do your analysis, and again when you sit down with the customer to explain your work.

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

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