Testo examines five ways to improve food processing efficiency with thermal imaging
The production pressures of the food processing industry mean that an emphasis must be put on keeping production machines running at optimum capacity. Maintenance downtime costs almost every production line at least 5% of its productive capacity, and many lose up to 20%.
Thermal imaging cameras can help drastically reduce downtime and improve energy efficiency in the food processing sector. It is, in fact, a mature technology and is already often used in food processing facilities. Using a hand-held thermal imaging camera as part of a preventative maintenance programme can quickly and easily identify failing components (without interrupting production) before an incident occurs.
Thermal Imaging Cameras can also be used to identify opportunities for energy saving measures, which not only reduce carbon emissions but also operating costs for businesses. Wasted energy, in the form of thermal leaks and inefficiencies, can be easily identified using a thermal imaging camera to visually inspect oven temperature spreads, door seals on refrigerated areas, pipework, ventilation and any other thermal processes on site.
Solutions for food processing facilities
So what are the main areas in which modern thermal imaging cameras can benefit a food processing facility?
1. Energy savings – use the camera to check the seals on cool stores and ovens to stop wasting energy and potentially spoiling product. Typically, a refrigerator with a split door seal uses up to 11% more energy than an efficiently operating refrigerator, and a split door seal on an oven can lose 20% of its heat.
2. Mechanical wear – maintenance staff can check mechanical components for wear so that preventative maintenance can be scheduled to replace components that have degraded over time (such as bearings) before they cause catastrophic failure and loss of production.
3. Insulation surveys – check the integrity of pipe insulation to save energy. A thermal imaging camera lets engineers locate the heat signature of damaged pipe insulation in need of repair.
4. Electrical surveys – identify failing electrical circuits which, left unchecked, could cause unscheduled downtime or even electrical fires. Tell-tale hot spots and heat signatures allow easy identification of necessary replacements and maintenance requirements using a thermal imaging camera.
5. Vessel checks – save time and gain access to difficult locations to check the fill level of vital liquids. Make monitoring the surface temperatures or contents of large containers, such as tanks or vessels, easy and efficient.
The adoption of increasingly accessible thermal imaging technology will lead to cost savings through reduced maintenance hours and increased plant operating efficiency, and will allow the more effective operation of maintenance engineers.