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...
Dramm TracFOG Nozzle Extension

June 2, 2017

Dramm Adds New Feature to Its Fogging System, Updates Online Forum

Dramm is now offering an optional nozzle extension for its line of TracFog PTO-driven fog systems. Meanwhile, the company has also updated its online forum to make it easier to find product solutions quickly.

Read More
Bellpark Horticulture and Visser Shipping System

May 31, 2017

New Greenhouse Conveyors Help Automation Become More Functional

The latest conveyor and shipping systems from leading manufacturers are designed to be more versatile and customized to any operation. Here’s a look at the newest models.

Read More
Irrigation boom at Cavicchio Greenhouses

May 23, 2017

The Road to Sustainability at Cavicchio Greenhouses

Incremental changes to reduce its carbon footprint have paid off in greater efficiency and public recognition for this Massachusetts greenhouse grower.

Read More
Latest Stories
Dramm TracFOG Nozzle Extension

June 2, 2017

Dramm Adds New Feature to Its Fogging System, Updates O…

Dramm is now offering an optional nozzle extension for its line of TracFog PTO-driven fog systems. Meanwhile, the company has also updated its online forum to make it easier to find product solutions quickly.

Read More
Bellpark Horticulture and Visser Shipping System

May 31, 2017

New Greenhouse Conveyors Help Automation Become More Fu…

The latest conveyor and shipping systems from leading manufacturers are designed to be more versatile and customized to any operation. Here’s a look at the newest models.

Read More
Irrigation boom at Cavicchio Greenhouses

May 23, 2017

The Road to Sustainability at Cavicchio Greenhouses

Incremental changes to reduce its carbon footprint have paid off in greater efficiency and public recognition for this Massachusetts greenhouse grower.

Read More
Argus Multi-Feed RM - feature

March 26, 2017

Feeding System Allows For More Precise Delivery of Nutr…

Argus Controls’ Multi-Feed RM100 is designed to help producers custom-feed their plants based on specific nutrient recipes.

Read More
Emerald Coast Growers Seed RoomTight feature

March 22, 2017

An Inside Look at Emerald Coast Growers’ New Seed…

Florida-based liner producer Emerald Coast Growers custom retrofitted and expanded an existing greenhouse, with the goal of increasing production efficiency.

Read More
Pic-O-Mat Vision system feature

March 3, 2017

How Growers Can Make the Most of Automation

A Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Grower says investing in automation can reap several long-term benefits, as long as you do so for the right reasons.

Read More
Visser PC 16 Transplanter feature

February 13, 2017

How to Find a Greenhouse Transplanter for Every Grower&…

Equipment manufacturers have recognized a void in the market for machinery that appeals to growers of all sizes and budgets. Here are some affordable options to consider investing in to improve your operation’s efficiency.

Read More
ISO Cutting Machine

February 4, 2017

Getting to the Next Generation of Greenhouse Automation

The most successful growers in the future will be those that are willing to accept and invest in new technology.

Read More
DRAMM PulsFOG

February 1, 2017

DRAMM: 75 Years of Innovation

This manufacturer and distributor of horticultural tools and equipment has a long history of developing inventive new technology that solves problems for its customers.

Read More
Botany Lane Greenhouses

January 27, 2017

Why Botany Lane Grows Poinsettias On Capillary Mats

A move to watering mats cut water and fertilizer use, production time, and labor for this Colorado-based grower.

Read More
Ever Bloom Robot Sprayer feature

January 23, 2017

New Automation Systems Improve Spraying and Harvesting

In response to increasing regulations on labor, Ever-Bloom Inc. decided to invest in new automation technology that also dramatically improves efficiency.

Read More
Bouldin and Lawson Precision Needle Seeder feature

January 19, 2017

How You Can Get More Precise With Your Seeder

Bouldin & Lawson’s Precision Needle Seeder is designed to improve accuracy when sowing small, difficult seeds.

Read More
north-creek-nurseries-gutter-connected-greenhouse-feature

November 23, 2016

How Greenhouse Technology At North Creek Nurseries Expe…

The new structure is the latest step in a lean flow efficiency process designed to help the company cut waste, drive down shrink, and increase profits.

Read More
greenpower-led-production-module-philips-lighting

October 18, 2016

Lighting Research Center Is Surveying Growers On Supple…

The Center, part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is looking for commercial growers to participate in an online survey regarding supplemental greenhouse lighting.

Read More
Chemical hopper

October 3, 2016

New Soil Mix Technology Generates High-Precision Greenh…

Advancements in soil mixers help growers achieve the highest level of automation and efficiency to create the ideal growing media for every type of crop.

Read More
Floricultura Bench Pulling System

July 31, 2016

Automation Saves Labor And Space At Floricultura Pacifi…

This Salinas, CA, orchid grower brings plants to its workers through automation that saves valuable time and takes full advantage of available growing space.

Read More
Harvest Automation HV 100 Feature

May 27, 2016

Harvest Automation Robot Helps You Move Plants Without …

The Harvest Automation HV-100 robot units use lasers and sensors to handle some of the most labor-intensive tasks in the greenhouse.

Read More
HV-100 Robots (Harvest Automation)

May 3, 2016

Harvest Automation Makes Strong Commitment To Greenhous…

The company recently announced it is selling off its robotic warehouse automation business to focus more on providing robotic materials handling to the greenhouse, vegetable, and fruit markets.

Read More