How Thermal Imaging Gives Your Sustainability Efforts the Green Light
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How Thermal Imaging Gives Your Sustainability Efforts the Green Light

3/27/24 | Erica McConnell, Life Cycle Service Business Development Manager

The future of manufacturing is undeniably linked to sustainability. Warming temperatures create potentially serious implications for manufacturers. Too much heat can be a problem for machines – downtime, safety issues, and a negative impact on the environment, to name a few. Forward-thinking manufacturers are actively seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint while maintaining operational excellence and efficiency.

One key focus area is optimizing energy usage, which can be done through thermal imagining. This tool helps manufacturers identify and address energy waste, ultimately leading to cost savings, improved performance, and more sustainable operations.

This blog post explores examples of inefficient energy usage in manufacturing and how thermal imaging can help you detect issues to be fixed.

First, the Science of Heat

The Scientific American article “Physicists Explain How Heat Kills Machines and Electronics” states, “At the molecular scale, temperature is a measure of how much molecules are vibrating. So, the hotter it is, the more the molecules that make up everything from the air to the ground to materials in machinery vibrate.

“As the temperature increases and the molecules vibrate more, the average space between them grows, causing most materials to expand as they heat up.”

In short, more heat = more molecule vibration = expansion.

The authors use roads as an example. Hot concrete expands, constricts, and eventually cracks. The same thing can happen to your machinery.

Inefficient Energy Usage Can Happen Across Your Facility

Too much heat can cause problems, but sometimes areas are colder than they should be, or cold air is escaping where it shouldn’t. This leads to inefficiencies and added costs, hindering your sustainability efforts. Thermal imaging can show where you have too much or too little heat.

Here are some examples:


Compressed air is a critical component of manufacturing, from powering assembly lines and pneumatic robots to heating, cooling, and material handling. Leaks in compressed air cause a sudden change in temperature as air escapes. Similarly, leaks in heating or cooling systems will show up as areas that are hotter or colder than they should be. This translates to wasted energy.

Poor Insulation

When installed properly, insulation helps maintain the desired temperature within pipes, ducts, and vessels. However, when the insulation is inadequate, heat can escape from hot systems (like boilers), or cold air can escape from chilled systems (like refrigeration units).

Overheated Equipment

Too much heat isn’t good for your equipment. It reduces the reliability of components, can damage hardware, break down lubricants, and age gaskets, among other problems. It could also signal a malfunction or inefficiency in your equipment. All of this creates increased energy usage and can even cause costly downtime. Heat can also cause environments that are dry and dusty, clogging air filters and making your machines work harder.

Related Post: Understanding the Importance of Thermal Audits for Industrial Enclosures

Faulty Electrical Wiring

Thermal imaging not only benefits your sustainability efforts, but it can also prevent safety issues. Overheated electrical equipment could be caused by loose connections, overloaded circuits, or failing equipment. Addressing these issues quickly can prevent electrical fires and improve overall energy efficiency.

HVAC System Issues

Your HVAC systems are undoubtedly large and more complex than those of residential systems, depending on the size of your operation. Proper heating, cooling, and ventilation is important for several reasons, including energy efficiency, safety, and product quality – especially if your products rely on climate-controlled conditions. Imbalances or inefficiencies in your HVAC could be related to leaks in ductwork, malfunctioning valves, or clogged filters, all of which can contribute to wasted energy and impact your product quality.

Steam Trap Issues

If your processes rely on steam, malfunctioning steam traps that are not releasing condensate properly or are leaking steam altogether are an area of energy loss. This can also cause increased carbon emissions.

Steam trap problems often and easily go unnoticed. Like any mechanical system with moving parts, they will wear and/or break over time, but it might be subtle. For example, if you have 100 – 200 radiant heaters in your building and only one of them fails, you might not notice the change in fuel usage, but it is there. As more traps fail and steam flows through, your heating costs will continue to rise.

The Sustainability Advantage of Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging can help you visualize energy loss and fix any issues while also significantly boosting your sustainability efforts. Partner that with lower utility bills, less downtime, improved safety, and improved efficiency – everybody wins.

A free thermal audit of your enclosures is a great place to start. Contact the experts at Rexel today to Schedule a free nVENT Hoffman Thermal Audit. An nVent Hoffman specialist will visit your plant to inspect and perform a thermal scan of your enclosures. You are provided a personalized report of the findings complete with recommendations for your specific application.

Remember, preventing problems today will save you from significant losses tomorrow.



Rexel Automation Solutions is committed to helping our customers achieve their desired business outcomes by delivering best-in-class customer experience and support.

We specialize in industrial automation services, solutions, and products that transform your application and operational needs into fully realized solutions, delivering measurable results and profitability for your company.