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Monitoring temperature patterns in industrial processes is extremely crucial for improving plant efficiency and maintaining safety standards. Today, the availability of cost-effective thermal imaging equipment has prompted companies to set up systems to monitor and analyze temperature patterns within their processes. This benefits them as they are able to discern valuable information regarding system performance and efficiency. However, this data cannot be used without the proper software solution that is capable of extracting meaningful insights from it. Andy Beck, the Co-Founder of Viper Imaging—a thermal imaging solution provider—speaks to us about how his company helps manufacturers to effectively utilize infrared imaging and access the right data.
Could you tell us about the importance of thermal imaging in industries and how does Viper Imaging address the growing needs concerning this technology?
In the past, equipment used to measure and analyze temperature was overpriced and thus, financially unviable for practical purposes. Today, however, the market has cost-effective thermal imaging cameras available, yet organizations lack the proper software tools to make sense of the information they are gathering through these camera sensors. To address this issue, Viper provides cost-efficient visualization and analytical solutions using infrared technology as a means of enabling companies to leverage their temperature related data.
Viper has a combined 50 years of industrial experience and in-depth knowledge of infrared imaging within the industrial space. Initially, we started as a provider of thermal imaging components, but realizing that industries require more than just hardware, we evolved into an end-to-end thermal imaging solution provider. While we have access to large amounts of data, that is not what we deliver to our clients. Our objective is not to provide all the available data to customers, but to provide the right information at the right time. With this infrared technology, our clients can now perform various tasks with increased efficiency such as electrical inspections, mechanical inspections, energy audits, and also detect gas leaks.
We have clients from metal, oil and gas, and FMCG industries, who approach us to help them increase their plant efficiency or improve safety standards. Our employees—with their rich industry experience—analyze the clients’ systems and requirements. They then ascertain the areas where our solution can be utilized effectively. This enables us to identify the key parameters critical to the clients’ system performance and enables us to propose meaningful insights for them.
Please provide us more information about your solution and its usage in industrial applications?
We are certified gold partners of FLIR, the market leader in infrared cameras, who supplies a majority of our components. However, it is our software, ViperVision that serves as the key. ViperVision is a comprehensive solution that can be integrated with a variety of hardware components and can be configured based on the clients’ requirements.
Our objective is not to provide all the available data to customers, but to provide the right information at the right time
Within the software, we use the acronym MAP—measure, analyze, and process—to describe our process approach. First, ViperVision directs the infrared cameras to measure and analyze temperature from certain pre-determined areas. This data is then analyzed by running it through certain customized analytical models that use big data techniques. It finally processes this information by performing tasks such as sending commands to a programmable logic controller (PLC) or setting off an alarm. However, our solutions are not restricted to just installation of thermal imaging systems. We, as a customer-centric organization, pride ourselves on our follow-up services. Our experts regularly perform on-site inspections and camera calibration for the clients to ensure that their systems are running in optimum conditions.
Could you brief us about some instances where your solutions have helped resolve the clients’ challenges?
One of our success stories involves a leading steel manufacturing company, which needed support to reduce maintenance costs. In steel mills, refractory lined ladles are used to store and transport molten steel, and the refractory linings often degrade or develop cracks exposing the ladle to high temperature. This can further lead to molten metal breakouts resulting in significant loss in revenue. To monitor this, the steel manufacturing firm contracted with us to acquire a solution that would provide complete and constant temperature monitoring. Using four FLIR cameras to analyze the temperature of ladles, we compare real-time temperature data and, if warranted, send an alert to the control room. Our system has allowed the client to achieve uptime of 98.6 percent, exceeding the corporate target of 96 percent.
Another instance where our systems are widely being used is substation monitoring. We were often approached by power distribution companies to help them monitor their substations. However, due to the immense number of substations across the country, devising a solution that served all of them was not financially feasible. We consequently designed an innovative semi-portable system that could be set up on a temporary basis at any substation based on their needs. Now substations can use this system to resolve their most critical problems, and can later be transported to another location.
Can you tell us about Viper Imaging’s plans for the near future?
Viper Imaging has witnessed a 100 percent year-on-year growth over the past three years. This growth has allowed us to invest in developing our in-house engineering and software capabilities. We are working on a new packaged solution that houses a standardized platform and can be configured according to every client’s specific requirements. This way, instead of having different software for each client, a centralized platform will make it easier for us as well as the clients to maintain the software.
In addition to expanding our own capabilities, we are continuing to establish strategic partnerships that allow us to leverage advanced analytical techniques and constantly improve our solution. In 2015, we also established a sister company, Viper Drones. The objective of this firm is to use unmanned drones to perform tasks such as aerial imaging or accessing areas hazardous for humans to access. With the development of low-cost drones, we see a lot of growth in this field as well.