Thursday 30th Mar, 2017

Seeing (infra)red on infrastructure


Infrared scanning is a mature technology with a host of applications, including many in construction. In maintenance, temperature differentials can be a sign of a failed bearing, a fluid leak or some other issue.

A beauty of infrared scanning is that it can be used from a distance, and is best used while equipment is operational.

The area is sufficiently broad to support an international conference on the topic, and one of the more interesting applications being promoted for an upcoming conference is in road inspections.

Finnish consultant Roadscanners uses thermal imaging as one of its suite of inspection technologies. MD Timo Saarenketo explains its use as, “One of the main causes for road damage is moisture ingress. If moisture passes the surface layer and enters the underlying structure, it weakens the structural integrity. If this process remains unchecked the road will become damaged.

“With a thermal imaging camera from FLIR, you can find water ingress in the road surface that is invisible to the human eye. If water has entered the road structure, it changes the way the road heats up or cools down. So in the dusk hours of the morning and evening the patches of road that contain water will show up in the thermal image.

“This information can be used to predict when that section of road will need repair. And the same concept also applies to bridges, where good water insulation is crucial for the lifetime of the concrete deck.”

Roadscanners combines thermal imaging data with the data from the other sensors, with Saarenketo saying, “It is only when you put these data all together that you get an accurate view of the road conditions.”