Everyone, no matter how hard they may try to hide it, has a nerd crush. That one piece of technology that they love so much, they feel giddy with excitement every time they get to use it in a productive manner. Mine is thermography. Not just the infrared images, but the science behind them. In the same way my brother enjoys digging into a difficult math problem, I love examining thermographic images that solve an issue that could not be resolved without them. Is that breaker hot because it’s going bad, the wire is loose, or it’s overloaded? All the information you need is in the image. Is that wall cold due to an air leak or missing insulation? One picture can tell the story. Is the front end of your car out of alignment? Give me an infrared camera and I can tell you in your driveway.
This is why I am excited about last week’s announcement at CES about the Flir One. My first infrared camera weighed about 12 pounds, and last week Flir showed me one they put in an iPhone case. Believe me when I tell you the possibilities are endless.
Some may write this gadget off as a pocket toy to make goofy pictures and videos. I’m here to tell you that the science behind IR can help you solve more problems than you realize. Imagine a day in the life of a construction superintendent. He begins by walking in the building through the doorway in the dock wall. The spec says that wall is supposed to be poured solid, but he didn’t see them fill it. However, he knows that blocks filled with concrete take longer to heat up in the morning than those that are empty, so one or two pictures later he knows the answer. As he enters the building he remembers it rained a couple days before and he isn’t sure if he had any roof leaks. He knows that wet insulation has a different thermal pattern than dry, so he can just use his camera to check under the roof decking to see if anything needs to be repaired. Then it’s time to head toward the roof for a scheduled startup on a new piece of HVAC equipment. One shot at the switch and another at the panel tell him that all connections are tight and the circuit isn’t overloaded. On his way back to the trailer for another cup of coffee, he wonders if anyone remembered to fill the propane tanks on the lift. A simple IR image shows him they’re about 90% full.
The cost of a reliable IR camera has floated around $10k for most of my career. While a camera at that price is capable of examining items in great detail, I’ve always thought of those “wouldn’t it be great if I could just” type moments. Flir made all those moments (and so many more we haven’t thought of yet) possible for $350. Good job fellas. I can’t wait to get mine.
Named one of ENR’s top 25 newsmakers in 2011, Julian Clayton is currently the Director of Product for FieldLens. Active in the construction industry since 1994, he previously worked as a project manager for commercial and retail construction projects. To learn more about Julian and the rest of the FieldLens Team please visit the About Us section of FieldLens.com.