4 Key Points to Choosing an Infrared Consulting Company
There are key things to keep in mind when comparing Infrared Consulting Companies to provide you with thermographic services that are out-lined here. There is still other things to consider as well when considering what you are really paying for that are discussed in a paper called "Quality Information, what can you really afford" that you may wish to review.
How long has the company been in business? How many infrared inspections have they performed?
Look for companies that are stable and have experience using infrared in a variety of applications. This demonstrates that the technicians can work at an efficient pace and can differentiate between real problems and normal operating conditions. It typically takes 3 to 6 months of in the field experience for a new thermographer to be able to work on his own. During this time frame he will need consistence one on one mentoring from a professional thermographer to help him fully understand and interpret the infrared images.
By considering how long the company has been in business and the quality of their work, will help you in determining what the practical longevity will be of the company. As in any business, business failures with in the first few years are extremely high. You will be building a long term working relationship with the Infrared consulting company and you will not want to have to keep jumping from one to another over the course of a few years because they don't stay in business.
How many certified technicians are on staff? How many cameras does the company own?
Many companies that contract out their infrared inspections are requiring that the "Certified Thermographer" be a level II certified thermographer with at least 6 months of practical in the field experience before he comes on the job site. They have leaned that it dose not pay to have inexperienced infrared thermographers who are not properly trained performing there inspections.
Look for a company that has sufficient staff and equipment to work on your schedule. You don’t want to have your plans disrupted should there be a camera problem. A full staff is particularly important when considering weather related scheduling. You will want your infrared inspection company to be able to "jump" as soon as the correct weather condition appears. Also, you will find it very helpful if your infrared inspection company has a fully staffed office where your scheduling and billing questions will always be answered promptly.
What cameras are being used to perform the inspection?
Look for high resolution. The latest models have 320 x 240 focal plane arrays. The importance of resolution is that it ensures enough detail to be able to pinpoint the exact location of the hottest component, which in most instances indicates the origin of the problem.
Look for a fully radiometric imager, with a temperature measurement accuracy of +/-2% of range, or 2 degrees C. This will ensure precise temperature measurement. Be sure your service provider has their equipment re-calibrated annually and certified by the manufacturer.
Look for full digital storage capability for the infrared images. This allows the images to be archived should the need arise to get future temperature measurements out of an object in the image.
Look for your inspectors to utilize small and lightweight systems. The advantage to you is that the technician will be able to move quickly and freely throughout your facility, with no limit to where he can inspect your equipment.
What information are you receiving after the inspection is complete?
Look for an inventory of all your equipment. This way you know what equipment was or was not tested during this inspection, as opposed to just receiving documentation on equipment where problems were found.
Look for follow-up documentation of past problems. Were they all repaired and re-inspected? What remains outstanding? Perhaps a repair was made but the equipment was not under load at the time of the inspection and therefore could not be tested and closed out. Is this information clear in the reports you receive?
Look for graphic representation of the equipment’s history. Does the report contain useful visuals to help you see the trends over time?
Look for high resolution, color, glossy thermograms and photos, with corresponding pre-printed work order forms
Look for logical organization of the problems found. Are they listed in such a way that your engineer can make an efficient repair plan?
What media are used to deliver the information? Can you receive your report over the Internet? Can you make additional copies or share the report electronically?