Numerous industries worldwide have discovered the benefits of integrating infrared cameras into their maintenance. As thermal cameras become handier, more powerful and more affordable, new industries and applications follow.
Physical IT environments rely on electrical connections, condensers, compressors, heat exchangers to function properly on an uninterrupted 24/7 basis. Industrial infrared cameras observe such equipment and allow the user to see things before they become a problem and, accordingly, to take action before costly system failures occur.
Coromatic AB, based in Stockholm, Sweden, specialises in the planning, design, construction and maintenance of physical IT environments such as server rooms and data centres. Coromatic AB acts as a general contractor; it offers turnkey data centres, supplying all necessary equipment and services: rack systems, cabling, power supply, cooling and ventilation, fire protection and detection, monitoring and security, as well as service and maintenance programs.
With 62 employees and a 32m Euro turnover, Coromatic is a market leader in Sweden. Coromatic has built over 55 fully equipped data centres for the country’s leading university hospitals and public institutions, as well as 2,000 m2 data strongholds for Volvo and other Swedish flagship corporations. To pro-actively maintain these mission-critical environments in which absolute continuity is the standard and failures cost millions, Coromatic increasingly relies on ThermaCAM E-series infrared cameras.
Securing uninterrupted power supply (UPS)
UPS systems are mandatory for all data centres. They are based on batteries which hold the load and keep the systems running until power supply is restored again. The infrared camera allows to check the connections and the status of the batteries quickly and easily and to replace bad batteries.
Cooling management starts at the rack
Cooling is a major issue for a good server room function.
“Two years ago, we had 4 to 6 servers per rack, now we have 8 to 12 servers per rack at an average of 5 to 6,000 Watts. As power requirements increase, heat production has to be kept under control” says Johan Andersson, Service manager at Coromatic.
“Checking all relevant cooling systems is a must. The infrared camera allows us to visualize and measure temperature developments of the ventilators in operational conditions.”
Saving time and saving costs with thermography
Server rooms do not only consist of racks and power supply. They are equipped with compressors, heat exchangers, and many other appliances that get hot before they fail. Coromatic uses infrared cameras for fault-finding during its contractual monthly, quarterly, or annual inspections at its customer’s data centres.
Impressed by the thermal camera’s ability to scan surfaces and prevent failure and breakdown, Coromatic AB decided to integrate infrared inspections into its customer service package and to train two experienced UPS technicians to use the FLIR Systems ThermaCAM E-series properly.
Reporting to the customer
The imagery, gathered at the customer’s data centre, has to be classified, assessed and presented. Coromatic relies on the ThermaCAM Reporter software suite for its customer reports. The report is built up in a Microsoft Word format and consists of imagery of the scanned objects in standard JPEG, basic thermographic data and comments.
Andersson stresses that knowledge of the inspected installations is needed to interpret the images: “We have 250 man-years of experience at the company, which we need it to interpret the imagery; not every hot spot is critical and you can only draw conclusions on the basis of experience and a thorough understanding of both the camera and the installations you inspect”.
Although never just a routine, the careful thermal check of Coromatic’s customers’ server installations has become a standard procedure.
“The advantages are at hand”, says Andersson.
“Infrared cameras allow us to inspect during operation, predict failure and take appropriate measures. The ThermaCAM E-series has even a built-in laser pointer for accurate, non-contact measurement of cables and equipment. And last but least, the customer feedback has been very positive.”