Prevent Greenhouse Fires With Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging highlights problem areas in red.

In 2009, Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits determined 48 percent of its property claims payments were fire-related. When trying to find a solution to reduce customer fire claims, the company began testing a thermographic imaging program. Hortica found that this program may have successfully reduced fire-related claims to 43 percent, ultimately creating a savings for its policyholders.

Thermography has since become a service that Hortica provides to all of its customers. This service involves a visit from a Hortica thermographer to identify anomalies that may contribute to or result in costly damage to equipment or a disruption in business operations. Common problems identified by thermal imaging include overloaded, worn-out and broken circuit breakers, overheated circulating fans, failing fuses and contacts, loose connections and energy loss.

Identifying Problems

Thermal imagers identify potential problems quickly without shutting down equipment or an operating component, which is a major benefit to business owners. This is possible because the thermal imagers operate on infrared principles. Electrical optical devices are used to detect and measure radiation, and the radiation is then correlated to the surface temperature. A thermal exception often appears using the thermal imager even when a visible inspection reveals very little, if anything. Thermal imagers are a cost-savings tool for maintenance and inspection of electrical systems, troubleshooting mechanical systems and analyzing building envelopes.

Thermal imaging has long been used for various applications related to building envelopes. Building diagnostic applications include building insulation inspections for energy, air leakage and moisture detection. While air itself cannot be seen, its temperature patterns on building surfaces often have characteristic thermal patterns.

Troubleshooting Equipment

Thermal signatures are snapshots of the heat being given off from an object at a single point in time. Comparing the thermal signature of a normal operating piece of equipment to one being evaluated for abnormal conditions offers an excellent method of troubleshooting. For example, excessive heat produced by an electrical system is a sign of impending trouble.

High temperatures indicate excessive electrical resistance, failing components or other common problems in electric equipment that can lead to expensive or even catastrophic failures. Motors are thermally inspected because they are very susceptible to heat-related failure. It is valuable to look at motors with thermal imagery compared with similar operating motors under similar conditions. For example, thermal imagery can help identify horizontal airflow fan motors that are running hot or a belt and pulley out of alignment.

A requirement for detecting conditions that are possible problems is access to operating and loaded equipment with the thermal imager. While not all equipment can be running all the time, it is possible to maximize the number of pieces of scan-ready equipment if the visit is made during a time when the facility is at or near full operation. Electrical components must be energized and loaded. A full load at a normal operating level is preferred and should be loaded to at least 40 percent. Low loads may not show problems.

Electrical cabinets must be accessed with the panels opened to gain a clear line of sight between the infrared camera and the points of interest. All opening and closing of equipment must be conducted by site personnel. These individuals are properly trained and experienced with working around live electrical circuits and are permitted to do so.

By using thermography, Hortica creates bottom-line cost savings for its policyholders. Other benefits include reduced opportunities for fires, assistance with preventive maintenance to avoid business interruption and decreased energy costs overall.

Leave a Reply

More From Equipment...
Status of Marijuana US Map May 2015

May 29, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Updates

As of April 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity. At the federal level, several bills are currently awaiting action. Here is an update on current state and federal marijuana legislation across the U.S.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

May 29, 2015

Making The Decision To Produce Medical Marijuana

Should horticultural growers consider cultivating medical marijuana? That’s up to the individual grower, of course, and certainly a number of growers already have jumped in. We at Meister Media Worldwide, publishers of Greenhouse Grower and American Vegetable Grower, do not necessarily endorse nor oppose the production of medical marijuana. But we do feel it is an option worth exploring. We intend our “Medical Marijuana” series of articles to give you information you need to make your own call. We hope you find it useful, and we do welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas as we continue to cover what we’re fairly certain is only going to be an increasingly viable and growing market for this emerging crop.

Read More
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Latest Stories
Growers are looking for low-cost options for temperature control, like circulating fans and exhaust fans.

April 10, 2015

New Ways To Give Growers Control Of The Greenhouse Envi…

From heating systems to circulation fans, manufacturing companies are finding new ways to help growers control the greenhouse environment, save on energy costs and streamline production.

Read More
Polyarch Berns

March 12, 2015

The Energy Efficient Greenhouse

New coverings technology means today’s films, plastics, shade cloths and climate screens slash heating and cooling costs while improving crop productivity year round. We checked with manufacturers to see what’s new and uncovered some best practices for buttoning up your greenhouse. Here’s what you need to know about the latest trends.

Read More
FormFlex_MTZ Hanging Basket

March 11, 2015

4 New Ways To Automate Your Operation

These new automation products can help streamline labor-intensive tasks, saving time and labor and increasing productivity.

Read More
Outfitting Your Greenhouse

February 24, 2015

Save Energy With The Right Greenhouse Glazing

The glazing you choose can make a big difference in your energy bill and the uniformity of your crops.

Read More
Michigan State University Extension

February 24, 2015

Ethylene From Defective Greenhouse Heaters Damages Crop…

Malfunctioning greenhouse heaters can lead to crop damage from ethylene and carbon monoxide induced illness for workers. Michigan State University's Extension educators Tom Dudek and Randy Beaudry teach you how to recognize the symptoms and check greenhouse heaters to avoid the concern.

Read More
Havest Automation Robot

February 18, 2015

Robots Grab Hold Of Growers’ Material Handling Needs

Harvest Automation’s HV-100 robots automate one of the hardest, most labor-intensive jobs at growing operations – plant spacing. With more technology coming, investing in robots could become even more realistic for growers of all sizes.

Read More

February 1, 2015

4 Lighting Products For Your Operation

These new lighting products have been developed for maximum energy efficiency in greenhouse production. Check out the slideshow to see which products are right for your operation.

Read More

January 30, 2015

LumiGrow Expands Customer Base In 2014

LumiGrow, Inc. is adding more than 125 new commercial, governmental and research customers to its roster of customers, and beyond the new accounts added this year, many existing customers significantly increased the number of LumiGrow products they use and research customers made LumiGrow a part of their efforts to add to the body of knowledge about spectral science.

Read More
harvest automation featured image

January 13, 2015

Harvest Automation Extends Robot Rental Program

Harvest Automation's robot rental program proved to be such a success for the company that it is being extended through the spring. The program was unveiled last year as a way for customers to get started with HV-100 robots.

Read More

January 9, 2015

Innovations In Irrigation

Need help improving your irrigation? Check out these new products.

Read More

December 2, 2014

Hanna Instruments, Inc. Introduces pH Electrode With Bl…

Hanna Instruments recently released HALO, a professional pH probe with Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0) technology that transmits measurement data directly to an Apple iPad running the Hanna Lab App.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Biomass Six Years Later: Would Pleasant View Do It Agai…

Pleasant View gardens installed its first biomass boiler six years ago and has added a second one since. Now it’s reaping the benefits of lower heating costs and dollars saved.

Read More

November 18, 2014

7 New Media And Light Products For Greenhouse Productio…

New media and light products cover a broad sweep of growing conditions.

Read More

October 21, 2014

GreenClocks New Generation City Farm Fitted With Philip…

Osaka Prefectural University’s new city farm, which has been fitted out with Philips LEDs, opened September 19.

Read More

October 1, 2014

Harvest Automation Introduces Robot Rental Program

Harvest Automation has unveiled a new introductory robot rental program as a way for customers to get started with HV-100 robots.

Read More

September 15, 2014

Precision Horticulture: What Piece Of Equipment Or Syst…

Let us know what product you can't live without.

Read More

September 15, 2014

New Products For Precision Growing

Increase efficiency with these new offerings in equipment, automation, structures and software.

Read More

August 12, 2014

LEDs Comparable To High Pressure Sodium Lamps For Cutti…

In his Cultivate'14 presentation on lighting the future of young plants with LEDs, Christopher Currey, Iowa State University, shared recent research on how LED lights stack up against high pressure sodium lamps for liner and plug production.

Read More