Home > How thermal imaging is helping the mining industry

How thermal imaging is helping the mining industry

Supplier News
article image Fluke Thermal Imaging Camera Ti125

Modern mining companies rely on technologically advanced equipment to keep their operations running and stay competitive. By ensuring the integrity of those assets through timely detection of potential problems, these companies can prevent unexpected and costly downtime, helping them achieve cost-effective, high level production.

Thermal imaging or thermography plays a significant role in the productivity and profitability of mining companies. An important diagnostic tool for monitoring the condition of equipment and machinery within a mining operation, thermal imaging is a safe, non-contact and non-destructive testing technology that allows operators to identify possible problem areas early on, plan maintenance with minimal disruption, schedule preventative maintenance, and test or observe materials in inaccessible or hazardous areas.

Non destructive testing with thermal imaging has proven to be invaluable in operational areas such as shafts, boilers, heat exchangers, pipes and other metal or plastic parts, bearings, drag lines, conveyors, motors, compressors and a variety of electrical systems. The mining industry also relies on heavy industrial cabling to provide continuous power for production, and thermal imaging helps minimise the likelihood of a breakdown of cables through early detection of problems.

Specialised thermal imaging cameras are used to check and detect problems that are not visible to the naked eye. The cameras can ‘see’ in total darkness as well as through air particulates such as smoke, fog and dust. They can also detect shallow defects.

Thermal imaging cameras work through internal detectors that can identify very slight temperature variations and produce an image of that invisible infrared or heat radiation. For example, a loose connection in a transformer can cause corrosion, which may then potentially result in connection failure, unplanned downtime or outages and create a safety risk. Since heat is generally a good indicator of a failing component, the infrared camera would identify the loose connection and pick up the area of degradation in the very early stages, with engineers then able to prioritise timely and cost-effective repair work.

The uninterrupted operation of a mine site depends on the continued performance of the equipment and infrastructure that also represent a major capital investment. That’s another reason why thermal imaging cameras have become such a key diagnostic tool in mining operations. Being highly sensitive, these cameras can pinpoint heat and catch a potential problem very early before irreversible damage occurs or there are other serious consequences.

Technological advances in thermal imaging have significantly enhanced the capabilities and versatility of these NDT instruments, with some products now featuring built-in GPS technology that allows geo-referencing of the images as well as mobile apps and innovative software for real-time analysis and data sharing even from remote field locations.

While these cameras are highly sensitive and technologically advanced, they’re also sufficiently robust to withstand the challenging conditions experienced on many mine sites. They’re equally valuable locating tiny hotspots on a conveyor belt or hidden deep inside the electrical system of a heat exchanger as they are assisting mine personnel during exploration, rescue or firefighting efforts deep underground.

Nexxis offers an extensive range of leading brands of thermal imaging cameras as well as broad industry experience and in-depth knowledge of the mining industry. Call them on 08 9418 4952 or visit nexxis.com.au to see their full range of remote visual inspection and non destructive testing equipment.

Newsletter sign-up

The latest products and news delivered to your inbox