Q & A – Automated Thermal Imaging for Remote Substation Monitoring

Automated Remote Thermal Imaging for Monitoring Substations - Q & A from the webinar


During our recent webinar “Automated Thermal Imaging for Remote Substation Monitoring,” Product Manager Lenny Shaver answered a number of excellent questions from attendees. Read on to learn more about some of these questions and find out how you can watch the recorded webinar!

Is the unit snake, bird, and insect-proof? It looks to me like bees might be able to get into the back side of the camera mechanism.

This is something that we thought about and did some work with in the field. What might not be obvious to you, is that the area in the back is fairly protected. There are always fans on in that section doing the heat exchange. If you were to put your hand there you would feel a very strong air exchange coming out of that area, so it’s not exactly welcome to critters because it is very windy in that very localized area. There are some slots there for the air exchange but there are two very powerful, high-grade fans. I mention that because in every moment when we had to pick a component like a fan or connector, we picked components that would survive in a substation environment for at least 10 years.

Can you control the camera remotely through the software? Such as moving it and zooming in on objects.

The short answer to that is yes. The slightly longer answer is yes, but we have tried to design some aspects to the software so that you wouldn’t have to do that. You certainly can do a remote connection to it and there are a couple ways to do the remote connection. The pros and cons to the different remote connections depend on how much network bandwidth you have available for the remote connection. There are easier ways that require more bandwidth and there are more complex ways that require less bandwidth. The long story short is yes you can do a remote connection, but we believe accessing recent data in the database will meet most needs.

For example, using our database system (LumaTrend), we found that customers, since they are logging the data, they can always see what happened 5 minutes ago, 10 minutes ago by viewing the most recently recorded data. If there is some reason you need to see a live image that’s more recent than 2 minutes ago, then that is a scenario where you would want to have a remote connection. Since the camera is scanning and doing the auto-tour all the time, if you want to see what this asset looked like only minutes ago then you can access those recorded images from the database and that is a lot simpler from an IT perspective.

Temperature is a measure of the loading as well. How does the system know the loading? Does the utility share this on a real-time basis?

We are working with a couple different utilities on this and we’ve done it different ways. So yes, you are absolutely right that for data analysis, loading, as well as weather, are all important factors that need to be considered. In some cases, our data is being published via protocol to PI historian or other data systems where other data (e.g., load, weather) is also already available so the multi-variable analysis is done there. In other cases, we can use an IO module to pick up a signal locally from the substation to bring load data into our system. I mention that we have traditional IO modules that are supported. We can bring in signals such as load from CTs or other items at the substation to bring that directly into our software for a multi-variable analysis.

Why are some of the infrared images black and white? Is color monitoring more expensive?

What we didn’t explain was that there is a color palette. Infrared per say does not have any color. So whatever color is being added is basically an artificial color that is being overlaid over these images depending on its temperature. The reason why we have some black and white is because the ability to distinguish the features on an image is better in a gray scaled image so that’s why some images are gray scaled and others we have it as colored. So, as far as how we visualize infrared, there are a lot of tools in our software to do that in different ways. It somewhat comes down to personal preference.

Here you can see the color palette that I was talking about. We have the gray scale and we have the “MikroScan”. The user can keep changing the color palette. And when he is defining the tour stops, he can save the color palette of his choice and that would reproduce for that tour stop. So, for every tour stop the user will have the ability to define the color palette. Also, he will have the ability of selecting the temperature range and the focus. Another important point that we want to mention here is that the camera has auto focus. All the user will have to do is draw a region of interest around an object that has good intensity. Then the software will automatically select that particular region of interest and it will focus the system. It comes down to personal preference what color people like really. I would recommend people use the same color all the time. The software has lots of flexibility there so it’s just what customers like.

Thermal Imaging with MikroScan color palatte.

Thermal Imaging in Black and White color palatte





Read the rest of the Questions and Answers here or watch the webinar on demand by registering here!