Building on the success of the GasFindIR camera for detecting gas leaks, FLIR Advanced Thermal Solutions (ATS) has introduced the dual-purpose FLIR GF320 camera which can additionally be used for thermal inspections at plants.
The heart of the camera is still the same, but the GF320 is also fully radiometric, meaning that it can detect, measure and visualise temperature. FLIR has been designing thermal inspection cameras for many years, but this is the first time it has combined that function with gas detection.
Hotspots are a useful indicator of malfunction or possible malfunction, and the early identification of them can help to nip a coming problem in the bud before serious malfunction occurs, generating potentially substantial savings by minimizing downtime and repair costs.
The camera can be used to inspect facilities such as mechanical and process plant, where temperature irregularities can indicate deviation from normal function, and also electrical equipment such as circuit boards, transformers and power lines. It is also applicable for use on offshore installations.
In the display temperature ranges are presented as colours - high temperature areas are shown in red, and can therefore be easily identified by the camera operator. For the gas detection function, escaping gas is shown as a plume, with the source easily visible. For both functions, surveillance can be performed from a distance, thus avoiding any risk of injury to the operator from approaching too close to over-heated equipment or a toxic gas cloud.
The GF320 is also equipped with a built-in memory, an LCD display attached to the camera, a built-in visual camera so that pictures can be taken of relevant equipment for documentation, and software allowing thermal pictures to be added to reports or video presentations. It also has a GPS capability whereby the exact position of leaks or hotspots can be recorded, enabling the repair team to go straight to the source of the problem.
Despite the additional features, the weight of the camera is unchanged at 2.4 kg, an important consideration for operators with large sites to inspect. Surveys can be carried out much faster than with alternative methods.
The new features represent FLIR's response to issues raised by customers during an extensive survey conducted by the company. While customers had plenty of suggestions for additional features, they were also very satisfied with the GasFindIR camera. Since it was launched in 2005/06, Tegstam says that most refineries, natural gas terminals and pipeline owners are now using it to monitor leaks.