Temperature as a Maintenance Tool


Industrial maintenance is a field that encompasses many basic principles from science and engineering. Technicians are tasked with caring for equipment including motors, pumps and support systems. The toolkit to handle these tasks includes many sophisticated tools. Among them, equipment temperature is a key indicator that can help spot problems and get right to the repairs that need to be done. It is measured with thermographic scans or direct temperature readings.

Operating equipment generally produces some amount of heat. This heat is energy loss due to mechanical or electrical inefficiencies. Monitoring and logging operating machine temperatures help spot trouble areas. Deviations from normal temperature readings are a sign that something has changed. The underlying causes of temperature increase can stem from a variety of sources.

Temperature Change Due to Wear in Bearings

Many machines used in industrial processes are rotating mechanisms. These include electrical motors, motor-driven pumps and fans. Rotating equipment with turning shafts must have bearings of some kind. The bearing is oriented in either a horizontal or vertical axis and reduces the friction of rotation within the machine. Thermographic imaging can immediately identify a bearing that is overheating due to wear signaling the need for attention.

Temperature Change Due to Electrical Resistance

When electrical current encounters resistance to flow one product is heat. Connections in switchgear or to breakers or fuses can loosen over time due to thermal cycling when machines are starting and stopping often. These loose connections can introduce resistance which can be spotted again by elevated temperatures.

Temperature Change Due to Misalignment

Another common cause of temperature rise in rotating equipment is when a motor that is coupled to a pump or fan gets out of alignment. When a pump is removed from service to replace impellers or other internal parts it must be reconnected and returned to service. Aligning the couplings requires careful attention to avoid vibrational problems and excessive wear. Heat, due to misalignment indicates a problem needing correction.

Monitoring and logging equipment temperatures is a basic tool for industrial maintenance. Noticing deviations and tracing the cause can prevent premature failures or unscheduled outages.