Solving Real-World Problems with Mobile Thermal Imaging
Thermal imaging tools are sophisticated devices that process temperature differences across various surfaces and display it on a screen. These tools are essential for users who need to find heat loss or escalation, take no-contact measurements, and record photo documentation. Here are three ways thermal imaging combined with mobile technology is helping workers solve real-world problems.
Once the domain of the world’s military forces, thermal imaging has been around since the 1800s, expanding the human eye’s visible spectrum and capturing images in a color-coded format. The color variations indicate infrared light (or heat), making the tools particularly useful in environments where visibility is low. Modern-day versions of this technology, integrated into a mobile device and application software, translate thermal energy (heat) into visible light to analyze a specific scene or object and produce “thermograms” that are captured, analyzed, and shared remotely in real time.
“Thermal imaging is used in all sorts of different scenarios—utility and energy companies use it to see where a house might be losing heat through door and window cracks.” Craig Lloyd writes in How Does Thermal Imaging Work? “Police helicopters use it to locate suspects at night. Weather stations use it to track storms and hurricanes … And some home security cameras, like the one on the Ring Doorbell, can use it too.”
3 Ways Mobile Thermal Imaging is Changing the Way Work Gets Done
Here are three ways mobile thermal imaging is being used in real-world applications:
- Easier inspection of hidden electrical systems and components. Hidden behind plastic encasing or large motors or machines with multiple complex circuitry, electrical systems can be tricky to navigate, perform diagnostics on, and repair. A potential fire hazard, these components corrode and wear out, but aren’t always addressed until a “real” problem (i.e., a fire or explosion) occurs. Using thermal imaging, incorporated into a mobile tablet, electricians can take a proactive inspection approach with both high- and low-voltage systems, without having to touch any hazardous components, remove protective cases, or make holes in walls. Using the heat maps displayed on their tablets configured with thermal cameras, professionals can see whether a system is running normally, or if it requires attention. “Performing facility maintenance and engineering tasks is like sailing among icebergs. What technicians can’t see will sink them—or their facilities,” according to Facilities.net. “Thermal imaging technology gives technicians the ability to see the unseen, making it easier to spot failing motors and electrical components, HVAC condensate leaks, bad ductwork, and leaky roofs.”
- More proactive mechanical inspections. Automation is all the rage. Technicians are being asked to inspect, monitor, and fix more conveyor belts, motors, gearboxes, and other complicated pieces of equipment. Lacking specific knowledge of the equipment itself, technicians have to start from scratch during each diagnostic test. With thermal imaging, the same techs can readily see if mechanical parts are beginning to fail or misalign because they’ll create undue friction that, in turn, creates heat. Using a mobile tablet that can sense heat and compute, they won’t have to use a separate, expensive thermal gun device and can instead capture the results right on their tablets.
- Safer and faster law enforcement interventions. Catching criminals isn’t easy, and especially if they’re hiding out in a building or a parked car. For the best results, many law enforcement officers are toting thermal imaging devices and combining them with facial recognition capabilities. Facial recognition allows officers to track 78 points of interest on the face for extremely accurate facial attribute recognition and analysis. For example, one of the more tedious assignments a patrol officer can have is to stake out the perimeter of a wide-area search. Surveil the same vista with a night vision scope, and no one is going to get out of there without the officer knowing about it. The same goes for building searches. With night vision, officers can maintain the cover of darkness and still spot bad guys in the dark.
As a standalone technology, thermal imaging has come a long way since its original founder began tinkering around with its possibilities back in the 1800s. By combining thermal imaging with TOUGHBOOK purpose-built mobile tablets, Panasonic provides a mobile solution that allows images to be captured, analyzed, and shared with remote experts and stored for comparison or research. The images can then be used to avoid unsafe conditions and/or accidents while also providing faster resolutions when problems do occur.
Integrated into the devices, these solutions can be tailored to nearly any industry or job. For example, thermal imaging camera technology that uses Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera technology can be integrated into Panasonic’s FZ-G1 tablet in a very cost-effective, versatile manner. Rather than use a separate thermal gun that can cost $2,000 to $9,000 and a separate enterprise mobile tablet, a Panasonic TOUGHPAD FZ-G1 tablet that integrates both tools into a single device, can cut down on capital costs significantly while increasing field service technicians’ productivity using a single tool.
Other industries or organizations that can significantly improve workers’ safety, simplify their job tasks with this mobile thermal imaging tool and improve on the speed, accuracy, and thoroughness of the job are maintenance, construction, and fire safety—to name just a few. To get a complete overview of the specs and features of the TOUGHPAD FZ-G1 with a Thermal camera option, you can watch the below video, view the FZ-G1 product specifications or read how you can custom configure a Panasonic TOUGHBOOK for your business.