11 features to look for in thermal imaging software

Thermal imaging

Robust desktop and mobile phone software is an important aspect of thermal inspection workflows. Thermography software can help enhance and clarify images, add analysis and share professional-looking reports in applications spanning mechanical, electrical, electronic equipment, building diagnostics and more.

It’s important to note that analyzing thermographic imagery accurately requires special training to consider emissivity of objects and other factors that can influence temperature measurements by infrared cameras.

Fluke TiX501 Thermal Camera

Just as professional photographers use software to turn photographs into stunning works suitable for publishing or widespread sharing, thermographers use software as a tool to analyze and then enhance and fine tune thermal images, so the information can be shared with managers and others. Good thermal imaging software fully utilizes the radiometric data supplied by the camera’s sensor to get the most out of the image or video.

In addition, the user can import images directly from an infrared camera’s memory or a removable memory device such as an SD or Micro SD. When evaluating software to use with an infrared camera, experts recommend you check that the software includes these important features:

  1. Multiple image or video formats - Process and export images in multiple file formats such a .jpg, .tiff, .bmp, .gif or .avi as well as proprietary formats that can tap more data for advanced analyses. Fluke infrared cameras can save in .is2 format, for instance, for further image processing and analysis in SmartView® software, and images can be exported from this software to many commonly used file formats. You may also choose to export the temperature data from the image to CSV or XLS format for further analysis.
  2. Edit and manipulate images - Adjust level and span, change emissivity, add markers, highlight boxes, reference images, color alarms.
  3. Combine visible light and infrared images - Adjust and blend visible and infrared images in order to better locate potential problem areas. This is the IR Fusion® feature in Fluke software.
  4. Live viewing and sharing of infrared images or video - View streaming data from your camera on your smartphone or computer. This is available via the Fluke Connect® mobile app on some models, for example. Share images in real-time across the internet for viewing by remote team members.
  5. Remotely control your infrared camera - Some software lets you activate auto focus or capture images and other functions without touching the camera, which can be valuable in potentially hazardous areas or tricky applications.
  6. Create templated or custom reports - Best-in-class software adds options for building and customizing reports to export in .pdf or .docx formats for sharing.
  7. 3-dimensional analysis - A capability of better software programs for thermal image analysis, viewing infrared images from different perspectives helps eliminate false positives and supports the identification of additional problem areas. Fluke’s 3D analysis capability is called 3D-IR®.
  8. Side-by-side comparison - Important to predictive maintenance, side-by-side comparisons of images taken at different times are included in the Fluke Connect software platform’s Asset Health dashboard.
  9. Change color palette - Control colors in the image to make heat or cold easily apparent or view as grayscale.
  10. Annotations - Add audio, text, and additional visible light images to help add all necessary information about an application.
  11. Categorize and catalog images - Tools to categorize, tag or catalog thermal images and associate with equipment. This feature is built into Fluke Connect Assets software.

Get the most out of your thermal imaging software

Once you’ve selected your thermal imaging software and collected thermal images of all your equipment with your thermal camera, the challenge is how to stay on top of them. Here are some quick tips on how to do just that:

  • Transfer images directly from your thermal camera to your PC or to the cloud where they’ll be automatically assigned to an asset in your facility.
  • Save thermal imaging data directly to a work order if repair is indicated.
  • Sort custom thermal imaging reports by capture or modified date.
  • Compare baseline, historical, and current infrared images of an asset with its corresponding mechanical and electrical measurements to spot anomalies as they emerge.
  • Review asset status over time to identify potential preventive actions.
  • Set up a hierarchical asset structure to track your thermal images and other maintenance data on each asset in relation to one another.
  • Prioritize your workload by quickly scanning the most recent status updates on key assets.

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