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Believe it: Visual inspection of plant equipment is one of the most useful tools available. A good set of eyes and the ability to see subtle changes in equipment is invaluable. For over two decades, PdM (Predictive Maintenance) technicians use best practices to walk around equipment seeing, smelling, and listening before they open their PdM toolbox and begin an infrared, ultrasonic, or vibration inspection. A new drip pattern on the floor, a change in sound, or the smell of burning or a chemical can signal a developing problem.

When optimizing the PdM program, you are visually inspecting the condition of MCC (Motor Control Center) cabinets regularly, to make sure nothing has deteriorated, no tooling left behind, and pests have not made the cabinet their new home.

When the cabinet is open, it is a best practice to take a digital photo to document and provide reference points for your IR (Infrared) survey. If the cabinet is not regularly inspected, failures can sneak up on you. It is not always s practical to de-energize a cabinet to perform a visual scan of components. Potential failures can be present within the cabinet but not show a change in their heat signature. You might assume that everything is within specifications, record your measurements and continue your route inspections. Where you have critical equipment, you need regular visual inspection to find problems such as wiring and insulation breakdown or annealing, install a visual inspection pane.

When you need visual inspection at the same time as your IR inspection, choose an inspection window that is designed to comply with the mandatory requirements of IEEE C37 20.0.a.3.6 and UL746C. The IEEE C37 requires any visual inspection panes in switchgear above 1kV to pass mandatory impact and load. Once you have selected your combination visual and IR inspection window that meets these standards, you can now capture both IR images and normal digital pictures at the same time, if your IR camera has this feature.

In industrial and high-traffic areas where the cabinets may take some abuse, look for windows that provide steel covers for additional protection of IR and visual. If needed, ask your supplier to provide locking protective covers for your IR window. This is used in areas of high traffic protecting the IR and visual viewing panes from impact, flying debris and dust. Some manufacturers have standard hinged covers and offer locking capabilities protecting the IR viewing panes. Because of the customization available today in the Infrared Window market, you can even have the option of a protective cover for the IR inspection and visual viewing pane with a single door.

Do not ignore your senses when conducting PdM inspections of plant equipment. Trust your judgment. Head off problems before they become big. When you walk through the plant, be very aware of your surroundings and alert to safety hazards as well as equipment changes in operation, temperature, appearance or sounds it may be generating that are out of the ordinary. In short, create a heightened sense of awareness of what is going on around you. Be sensitive for anything that does not seem right. Rely on your senses as well as your PdM tools to inspect and diagnose equipment problems. For more information about the IRISS CAP Series of Infrared Inspection Windows that exceed the mandatory requirements of IEEE and UL, please go to: or contact IRISS Customer Service by phone at: +1 (941) 907-9128 or via e-mail at:

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