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Calibration of thermal cameras for inspection and maintenance

Author : AV3 AEROVISUAL

We were recently in Zapopan, Jalisco, in the metrology laboratory of Kaper – Experts in Thermography, in order to make the calibration of our thermal cameras, which are used in aerial inspections in energy and industrial facilities. As a result of the time we have been collaborating with the Kapter team and their years of experience in research, we are sure that they are a mandatory referral for all those companies that, like us, take their quality and maintenance management processes very seriously.

During our stay, where we were able to learn in detail the calibration process of a thermal camera, we talked with Engineer Margarita Kaplun Mucharrafille, General Director of Kapter, who has been one of the main figures of this research and development center through initiatives such as the Dauik project, original and patented design of radiation equipment for thermal calibration.

According to Engineer Kaplun, Dauik equipment are radiation sources, a type of industrial oven, like those commonly used in the industry, but with certain characteristics that allow it to behave as a gray body, making it suitable for the measurement and calibration of radiation equipment. Inside these sources there are cavities where cylinders made of different materials are inserted, such as metals or ceramics, which when heated inside the sources, reach the temperature at which the camera or thermometer is to be calibrated. The use of one or another material depends on its thermal properties and normally its coating is highly emissive, which allows its surface to radiate infrared energy. It is worth mentioning that commercially these radiation sources are known as “Black bodies”.

Engineer Ignacio Alberto Charreton Ortega, Commercial and Projects Director at Kapter, supervising the last details prior to the calibration of the thermal cameras.

Kapter’s General Director explains that the innovative part of the Dauik equipment is a series of rings around the black body cavity, which distribute the temperature from the center outwards, generating thermal gradients. This device makes it possible to divide the screen of the thermal imaging camera (the part that visually represents the temperature detector) into quadrants, in order to characterize the camera in different areas, thus being able to analyze the behavior of its thermal detector, which is different from calibrating, where the measurement is focused only on the center of the camera.

Contrary to popular belief, the calibration of a thermal camera consists of detecting the error margin of the device at different temperatures, associating an uncertainty value to its measurement, and does not involve making adjustments to improve this error. When the camera’s error is outside the limits allowed in its data sheet or requires some other type of fix or adjustment, the camera must be sent to the manufacturer for repair.

As a result of a calibration, a “Calibration Certificate” is delivered to the customer, which complies with the general requirements of ISO/IEC-17025:2017 standard and its results have metrological traceability.

In Margarita Kaplun’s vision, companies in the automotive, pharmaceutical, aeronautical, energy, food, petrochemical, health, inspection and maintenance service providers, metrology laboratories and in general, any industry that manages quality processes and has a culture of maintenance of their equipment, need to have their cameras calibrated. It would be desirable that customers characterize their camera to know how they are working in all areas of measurement and not only in its center.

For us, who provide inspection services with drones and aerial thermography, Kapter team has been crucial in the development of AV3 Aerovisual, not only because of the value that their experience and technology bring to our work, but also because through them we obtained the international certification in thermography, thus raising the scope and benefits of what we do. In addition, and as part of the objectives of this alliance, very soon we will be teaching with them the online course of aerial thermography level 1.

We are proud and confident to have the support of years of experience of people like Margarita and her team of collaborators, who it is important to mention, have been recognized since 2015 to date, at state and national level, by different research institutions in Mexico thanks to the design and technological impact that Dauik equipment represents for science and industry.

PROFILE

Engineer Margarita Kaplun Mucharrafille,
General Director of Kapter.

Mechanical Engineering Administrator graduate from Tec de Monterrey de Querétaro, she is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Advanced Manufacturing at CIATEQ Campus Guadalajara. She has specialized in intellectual property, thermography and quality management systems. She has experience in metrology laboratories focused on temperature magnitude in research institutions such as CIDESI. She has worked in the automotive industry in the management of calibration programs and is the instructor of the thermography courses offered at Kapter.

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