Thermal imaging to identify mechanical problems on vessels

Thermal imaging can observe temperature anomalies that are abnormal in machinery, including electrical equipment, wood, fiberglass, aluminium, and steel, which could reduce the time and money spent on technicians or mechanics whilst diagnosing problems with vessels.

Thermal imaging does not require light to see thermal radiation; thermal cameras can see in absolute darkness.

The tool used for thermal imaging is the thermographic camera, which is similar in appearance and operation of a portable digital video camera.

Suenos Azules Marine Surveying and Consulting uses the Flir® brand infrared cameras.  It works by sensing electromagnetic waves within the light spectrum wavelength between approximately 0.9 and 14 micrometers (visible light that can be seen by the human eye is between .4 – .75 micrometers).

A special lens on the infrared camera focuses the infrared light emitted by all of the objects in view.

The focused light is scanned by a phased array of infrared-detector elements. The detector elements create a very detailed temperature pattern called a thermogram.  It only takes about one-thirtieth of a second for the detector array to obtain the temperature information to make the thermogram.

The thermogram created by the detector elements is translated into electric impulses, which creates the infrared image.  These impulses will also record surface temperatures of the image taken.  

In the marine industry there are many advantages to thermal imaging.  Some of these advantages include the fact that it is conducted in real time and allows fast scanning and recording of stationary targets.  The thermographic image can find the temperature anomaly quickly, significantly reducing the time and money spent on troubleshooting and highlighting a potential problem before resulting in costly repairs later on.  If desired, thermal imaging can be included in marine survey reports on components such as engines, transmissions, tanks, electrical equipment, electronic devices, and hulls to look for heat anomalies that can determine if malfunctioning components, leaks, or delamination may exist within the vessel. 

Thermography can sense heat that may prevent an electrical fire and requires minimum human contact to improve safety.  Thermal imaging can detect leaking fuel or water from tanks that may prevent an explosion or water damage to the interior of the vessel.

Thermal imaging is used widely in law enforcement, security, the military, air and sea navigation, surveillance, firefighting, medicine and science and it is now being used in the yacht industry to detect technical faults.

For further information about thermal imaging in marine surveys for vessels visit,

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