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Visiotherm, a building services company based in Belgium, is using a retractable pole system teamed with a Flir T640 thermal-imaging camera to cost-efficiently inspect solar-panel installations.

When extended to maximum reach, the aluminium pole is approximately 12m in length, allowing it to be used for solar-panel inspection on most residential homes and low-rise industrial buildings.

On top of the retractable pole is a remote-controlled pan-and-tilt mechanism that enables the Flir T640 to be pointed to the target. It also allows the optimum operating angle to be achieved to eliminate any reflections that may skew results.

The Flir thermal-imaging camera is controlled via wireless connection to a tablet PC that runs the Flir Tools application software.

Key benefits of product application

  • According to Visiotherm’s Patrick Robe, the pole and camera combination enables the company to change emissivity settings, adjust level and span, add temperature measurement points and perform other functions, all from ground level.
  • Robe said that the Flir T640 was the clear ‘front runner’ for this application thanks to the numerous standard features incorporated in this model.
  • The T640 offers high resolution and produces crisp thermal images with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.
  • The Flir camera can measure temperatures from -40°C to +2,000°C with thermal sensitivity of less than 35mK. This is said to be particularly important for solar-panel inspection as the camera sees heat distribution on the glass surface but only indirectly the performance of underlying cells.
  • Wireless technology is standard on the T640 — a key feature for Visiotherm’s remote application. This allows the camera to be used with a similarly enabled clamp meter whose data is automatically transferred to the camera and embedded in the thermal image.
  • As the weight of the entire Visiotherm thermal-imaging system is 34kg, it is sufficiently portable to be set up on flat roofs, as well as for thermal imaging from ground level. In this way, roofs greater than 12m in height can be inspected using a convenient flat roof as a vantage point.

FLIR Systems specialises in technologies that enhance perception and awareness.  The company brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life through its thermal imaging and visible light imaging technology and systems for measurement, diagnosis, location and advanced threat detection.  Its products improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance productivity, increase energy efficiency and make the workplace safer.

FLIR Systems has six operating segments – surveillance, instruments, OEM and emerging markets, maritime, security and finally, detection. Of these six, ‘instruments’ is of greatest interest to trade and industry and the second largest segment in the company’s portfolio. This division provides devices that image, measure and assess thermal energy, gases and other environmental elements for industrial, commercial and scientific applications.

These products are manufactured across five production sites, three in the USA and two in Europe; Sweden and Estonia.

A model to suit every application and budget
The options that FLIR Systems provides for measuring temperature and studying thermal performance have never been greater.  Not only does the company offer a huge range of models to suit all thermal application needs but the technology is also affordable and very easy to use.  Thermal cameras now come in various shapes, sizes and degrees of sophistication and FLIR continues to invest heavily in the development of new and complementary technologies to differentiate itself from competitors.

An important milestone in the development of thermal imaging has been the introduction of the FLIR Lepton® core, a micro longwave detector, the size of a mobile SIM.  This has allowed thermal imaging to be repackaged to meet the needs of an even wider audience and, in combination with another new technology called Infrared Guided Measurement – IGM™ – has led to the development of a range of test and measurement meters with imaging capability.

Another important growth area for FLIR thermal imaging is in continuous monitoring to assure quality and safety.  Through its introduction of discrete fixed mounted thermal cameras which are fully compliant industry standard plug-and-play protocols, FLIR Systems has provided industry with infrared machine vision which is instantly ready for quick and easy network installation.

Protecting assets and people from fire is an area for which thermal imaging is least known but, thanks to FLIR Systems’ development, it is now one of the most cost-effective methods available.  Its application flexibility and rapid return on investment present an attractive proposition for any site or safety manager.

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