January 12, 2024
by Karen Fox, CRL, LV 1 Thermographer, LV 1 Airborne Ultrasound
John Zyznomyrsky, CRL, LV II Thermographer, LV 1 Airborne Ultrasound
One of North America‘s leading bottled water companies dedicated to providing
customers with healthy hydration options and equally committed to keeping their
people safe recently approached IRISS for assistance in optimizing their asset
life cycles. Their primary goal was to define cost-effective, consistent maintenance
processes by adopting the technologies to support and sustain these processes
throughout the U.S. and Canada. As part of this multisite initiative, one of IRISS‘
distributor partners, Scott Thornton of DTM Consulting Services, was engaged
to provide recommendations for placement, sizing and type of IR windows to be
installed at their Ontario, Canada facility. After an initial site survey, DTM
recommended the CAP-CT series in various sizes to complete this project. CAP-CT
series is a NEMA 4 / IP65 rated IR window and is ideal for indoor applications.
Standard sizes are 4, 6, 12, 18 and 24 inches plus custom sizes are available
including optional partial discharge ports.
Analysis of Inspection Program
The company developed a reliability and maintenance policy that includes a three to
five-year improvement plan. This policy was then communicated to all employees.
The company outlined all essential reliability and maintenance elements, their key
performance indicators, why these are important and the importance of Reliability
Centered Maintenance (RCM) and Reliability Based Maintenance (RBM) program for
overall plant safety.
The company had done the necessary research and determined that they would
retrofit using the IRISS transparent patented polymer Infrared Windows as a safer
method of conducting standards-compliant inspections. It was decided by the
reliability team to implement the large format infrared polymer windows for the Main
Switchgear Bus connections, Main Breaker connections and Fused Switches to help
eliminate the hazard of live work by finding hot spots through the IR windows.
As a result, more frequent inspections of energized equipment could be performed
by retrofitting with Infrared Windows for routine inspections. The closed panel
inspections with the windows in place did not require elevated levels of Personal
Protective Equipment (PPE) mandated in NFPA 70E, thus reducing time and
maintenance costs. Thermal imaging was not new to the maintenance and reliability
team as they had previously retrofitted some equipment with traditional round
calcium fluoride windows. However, it was determined that a transparent polymer
Infrared Window available in various large formatted sizes would provide both visual
and thermal inspection with fewer units needing to be installed.
The IRISS patented polymer-based infrared windows are unaffected by the
environmental and mechanical stresses ensuring that the temperature data collected
through the IRISS IR window is accurate and reliable for the whole life of the
installation. Crystal-based IR windows are both highly fragile and hygroscopic (even
when coated) causing degradation of the transmission over time and temperature
reading errors. Polymer-based IR windows are far more able to resist the mechanical
stresses applied to IR windows that are fitted to electrical distribution equipment.
IRISS industrial-grade IR windows meet mandatory impact and load testing
requirements of UL, CSA, IEEE and IEC. Many of these tests cannot be passed by any
crystal-based IR window.
With the infrared windows installed, there was no need to remove panels or wear
increased levels of PPE. Inspections could now be performed more often and on
electrical equipment that had previously been considered “uninspectable” due to high
levels of Arc Flash incident energy.
The installation process proceeded smoothly and included:
The bottled water company has recognized huge savings in time and money with
the implementation of IRISS patented transparent polymer infrared windows into
their condition-based monitoring program. The use of polymer infrared windows
allows more convenient and frequent inspections resulting in the ability to catch and
fix potential problems long before they turn into unexpected outages. In this way, the
bottled water locations will see increased Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) on
their critical electrical infrastructure. Most large facilities with large distribution
power systems find that their insurance provider requires annual infrared (IR)
inspections of their electrical systems. This mandate is a direct result of verbiage
found in NFPA 70B but retrofitting IR windows enables the facility to perform these
inspections in a fraction of the time and in a much safer way.
Based on the results at the first sites, the bottled water company has now
proceeded with the implementation of the IRISS IR window solutions at twenty-nine
(29) of their sites around North America.