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Process applications are some of the least exploited infrared opportunities in industry.

These applications can range from determining internal build-up on components, to evaluating the effectiveness of insulation to finding and analysing failures of equipment such as flare tips.

It is important to understand the theory and limitations of infrared thermography for these applications. Process problems are an example of how sharply infrared can deviate from the stereotypical “hot spot” approach. The interpretation of process-related thermograms involves infrared theory and heat transfer. Many process applications also involve better quality infrared equipment or specialized lenses, filters, and accessories.

Safety is also an issue with process inspections. As with outdoor electrical scenarios, the buddy system is a very effective way to avoid missing hazards while looking through an eye-piece or LCD lens. As with all work, a pre-job hazard assessment should be carried out to ensure that the risks are eliminated.

It is also important to remember that the infrared equipment will not be intrinsically safe or explosion proof. Gas monitoring and all of the relevant site safety procedures must be observed where there is the possibility of flammable and explosive materials.

Process applications require knowledge, skills, and imagination, but they can yield some of the greatest benefits.