From hazardous areas to security, imaging is a key technology

Paul Boughton

Continuous, real-time and on-line imaging is important to ensure that maintenance costs are reduced, production maximised and plant security not compromised. Eugene McCarthy reports.

Fluke says its new 568 Ex intrinsically safe infrared (IR) thermometer is the one product that can be used in Class I Div 1 and Div 2 or Zone 1 and 2 hazardous environments anywhere in the world.

Whether in petroleum, chemical, oil and gas, or pharmaceutical environments, the 568 Ex allows users to carry them into the most Ex rated areas all around the globe.

With a straight-forward user interface and soft-key menus, the Fluke 568 Ex makes even complex measurements easy. Quickly navigate and adjust emissivity, save data or turn on and off alarms, with just a few pushes of a button; all in a single intrinsically safe tool certified by major rating bodies from around the world.

With a rugged, easy-to-use, ergonomic design, the Fluke 568 can stand up to tough industrial, electrical, and mechanical environments and measure from -40°C to 800°C.

Other benefits include: easily access advanced features with the soft-key buttons and graphical display; measures small objects from further away, with a distance-to-spot ratio of 50:1; compatible with mini-connector K-type thermocouple probe; confidently measures a wide variety of surfaces with the adjustable emissivity feature, including a built-in material table; capture up to 99 points of data; confidently troubleshoot equipment with +/-1 per cent measurement accuracy; and a versatile interface with five languages from which to choose.

Also new is the Fluke 572-2 high-temperature IR thermometer. Fluke says it can be used in high-temperature industrial environments all around the world. Whether in power utility, metal refining and smelting, glass, cement or petrochemical environments, the 572-2 will give accurate high-temperature and high distance-to-spot measurements.

Like the 568 Ex, the 572-2 also makes complex measurements easy, says the company. Quickly navigate and adjust emissivity, start data logging, or turn on and off alarms, with just a few pushes of a button.

It measures from -30°C to 900°C; has 60:1 distance to spot ratio with dual laser sighting for fast, accurate targeting; has a multi-language interface; high and low temperature alarms; and can store and review 99 data sets.

According to Land, its new SPOT R100 multi-mode thermometer sets the standard for usability; with on-board processing capabilities, a separate signal processing device is not required (Fig. 1).

There is a simple user interface integral to the thermometer for local setup and configuration, including spot size and focus distance, live target temperature, emissivity, alarms, measurement range and more. In addition, the instrument has an in-built visual camera to aid target alignment. Configuration can be achieved remotely over the internet via the dedicated web browser or SPOT Viewer software.

The size and shape of the SPOT design means it can easily replace existing installed thermometers. In addition, the new thermometers use a patented green LED for sighting (no laser safety issues) to confirm spot size and focal length simply and accurately. All SPOT thermometers offer a combination of Ethernet, Modbus TCP, video and analogue input and outputs as standard. All the expected measurement parameters including averaging, peak picking, mode master, and background compensation are standard on all models.

Land says the SPOT R100 combines a novel set of features in one thermometer, including: the use of two independent wavelength measurements; all processing is integrated into the sensor; simplified installation, set up and use; precision optics; multiple output formats; reduced installation costs; wider measurement temperature range; easy configuration of temperature spans; allowing both local and remote configuration.

Focusing on R&D

New from FLIR, the A35x0sc/A65x0sc-series are thermal imaging cameras that are equipped with a cooled detector. They are ideal tools for industrial R&D - for those applications that need better image quality, more sensitivity and a higher frame rate than can be obtained from a thermal imaging camera with an uncooled detector. When higher frame rates and better image quality are required scientists can choose among the FLIR X8000 or X6000 series.

The FLIR A35x0sc/A65x0sc-Series cameras all feature mid-wave IR cooled detectors and are therefore able to see through or at materials that no other uncooled long-wave camera can, for example certain types of glasses and plastics.

They produce crisp thermal images of 640x512 pixels. Users that do not need this high image quality for their applications can choose the FLIR A3520sc which produces thermal images of 320x256 pixels.

All versions have a high thermal sensitivity of <25 mK which captures the finest image details and temperature difference information.

External triggering allows synchronisation of the image capture to the most fleeting events. It is also possible to configure one camera to be master and others to be slave for applications requiring more than one camera.

All FLIR A35x0sc/A65x0sc-series cameras work on a snapshot mode: all pixels are registering the thermal event simultaneously. In case of moving objects or on motion applications, such cameras can avoid image blur that would occur if a non-snapshot camera would be used.

In addition, FLIR's new D-Series multi-sensor thermal cameras are aimed at security applications. The D-series outdoor dome enclosure provides precision pan/tilt control while providing fully programmable scan patterns, radar slew-to-cue, and slew-to-alarm functionality. Fully enabled for control and operation over IP and serial networks. The D-series combine a thermal imaging camera with a colour CCD camera. This makes them the perfect replacement for day/night dome cameras, providing clear 24/7 imaging capability in an attractive, discrete dome-style enclosure.

The new FLIR D-Series are a lot more compact. TCP/IP compatible electronics are integrated in the camera and no longer in a separate box. This also means that the FLIR D-Series can now be can be mounted in ball up and ball down position, giving users more flexibility.

In other news, Xenics has expanded its offerings with 20-plus new camera models based on its versatile XenicsCores platform. All feature on-board image correction and enhancement algorithms, further simplifying system integration and optimisation.

Modularity is a key word with the new models and, covering a broad variety of specifications and functionalities, it allows systems designers to pick and choose according to their applications.

These high-resolution IR cameras come with on-board image processing capabilities based on the XenicsCores platform. They can be tuned to optimum power dissipation levels and combined with all appropriate sensors for the short- and long-wave IR, a variety of lenses, and data interfaces such as GigE Vision, CameraLink and (soon to come) CoaXPress, as well as analogue video.

Among the most important features of XenicsCores is a set of embedded algorithms provided on-board to perform image correction and calibration, as well as enhancement functions such as auto gain, histogram stretching, and bad-pixel replacement right within the camera.

The on-board XenicsCores' algorithms extract the most relevant information from raw sensor data and accommodate them to the given application. This alleviates systems designers of the time consuming task of developing their own software-based specs to obtain good image quality.

Novel radiometric solution custs costs

LumaSense Technologies has introduced a new infrared (IR) imaging technology called Rel-Rad that combines low-cost spot pyrometry with IR thermal imaging technology to produce thermal images that are not fully radiometric but are 'relatively radiometric'. By driving the thermal image palette through a radiometric pyrometer capable of precise temperature readings, Rel-Rad delivers relatively radiometric infrared imaging at a significantly lower cost than fully radiometric imagers.

IR cameras have proven to be the ideal non-contact temperature measurement technology in extremely hot manufacturing environments, but the high cost of imaging systems is often a barrier for many customers, says LumaSense. Its new technology makes accurate thermal imaging far more accessible, so operators can monitor an entire object or process instead of just a small portion.

Through its LumaSpec R/T software suite, LumaSense's Rel-Rad technology can be readily integrated with existing industrial monitoring and control systems via the Open Process Control (OPC) interoperability standard for industrial automation.

Rel-Rad is ideal for industries where it is critical to know the temperature of an object as well as uniformity across an object at that temperature.

Many processes in metals and glassmaking that use a single pyrometer to measure temperature can be improved with Rel-Rad technology, for example steelmaking processes such as ladle preheat, torpedo car monitoring and annealing furnace operations. With the more precise temperature measurements that a Rel-Rad solution provides, the life of a pouring ladle or torpedo car can be extended by 20 per cent and energy usage for preheat operations reduced by 10 per cent.