How to best present thermal inspection results

Thermal imaging

Thermal imaging inspection reports are designed to communicate findings and produce action, such as a repair order or further monitoring of equipment. Typically, a report includes both thermal and digital (visible light) images, and details such as the date and time of the inspection, location of potential problems, and work order numbers. Most important, you should also include a brief summary describing potential problems, their locations, and how critical they are.

The chief purpose of your report is to point out anomalies, but keep in mind that while you can easily see these anomalies, the people reading your report may not be as well-versed in thermography. So, it’s a good idea to use thermal imaging analysis and reporting software to enhance those images to make the results more apparent to the untrained eye.

A thermal imaging expert examines equipment with a Fluke Infrared Camera

Three easy ways experienced thermographers enhance thermal images include:

  • Adjusting level and span. Every thermal image will show a hot spot and a cold spot, which may or may not be problematic. You can readjust the level (mid-point) and span (difference between minimum and maximum temperatures) of your image to highlight the area of concern. That area may or may not be the hottest point in the image.
  • Choosing the right color palette. Subtle differences are easier to see with a monochromatic palette like grayscale or amber. High contrast palettes can make it easier to quickly find obvious anomalies. You can change the palette in the camera or in the software.
  • Blending infrared and digital images. If your thermal imager has a built-in digital camera, it’s a good idea to set the blend to 100 % thermal when you’re scanning the component. The digital camera will still be capturing the visible image in the background. You can then blend the digital and infrared images in the software to a balance that best highlights any anomalies you want to call attention to in your report.