Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 41


SOLUTION FOCUS

Infrared
Thermography
Goes Underground

Proper planning
and experienced
thermographers
helped a subway meet
its electrical-system
inspection goals. All
work was performed
during off-peak hours
with no disruption to
train schedules and no
power outages.

A major metropolitan subway is using thermal imaging to help
improve system reliability and keep its trains running on time.
MOVING MORE THAN 5 million
people over almost 850 miles of track
each day is a challenging proposition for
one of America's largest subway systems.
Reliability and safety are top priorities for
this system, which operates 24/7/365.
Following an electrical incident that
resulted in equipment failure and a fire,
the subway system's engineers sought
a means to rapidly inspect all of their
electrical equipment-most of which was
located in cramped, underground tunnels
and restricted areas. After weighing
several options, they determined that
infrared thermography and Jersey Infrared
Consultants (jerseyir.com) of Burlington,
NJ, best met the subway's needs:
■ Thermal imaging could be performed
without shutdowns.
■ Collected data could be documented to
allow further investigation and repairs
of problems, and serve as a baseline for
future infrared inspections.
■ Electrical equipment could be
inspected without walking or standing
in the tunnels or on the tracks.

The plan
This infrared survey project involved
inspecting all electrical equipment,
including cables, connections, and splices
located in manholes or exposed locations
within the tunnel and track areas. Its
goal was to identify potential problems
that could lead to a future failure or fire.
Successfully conducting the required
inspections, though, meant overcoming
numerous logistical hurdles inherent to
the transit and tunnel environment.
OCTOBER 2016

The first hurdle was when to perform
the inspection. To obtain meaningful data,
infrared inspections should be performed
at a time when there is significant load on
electrical systems. In the subway's case,
this would ideally be rush hour. Shutting
down tracks or delaying trains during that
time, however, was not an option. After
some experimentation, it was agreed that
infrared inspection of equipment located
on the tracks would commence at the end
of rush hour and stop after three hours
or when the electrical system load was no
longer sufficient, whichever came first.
Much of the equipment to be inspected
was located in "manholes" or along walls
of active subway tunnels. Walking between
locations was prohibited due to the many
miles of track to be inspected. Standing on
or near the tracks with running trains was
too dangerous. To safely access the equipment, the client and consultants decided
the survey would be performed from the
front platform of a work train. Necessary
safety equipment included harnesses to
secure the thermographers to the work
platform and radios to allow communication between them, the train engineer, and
transit maintenance engineers.

The work
Although the survey was performed
during "non-peak times," the subway's
tracks were still in use-and under trackmaster control. This meant the work train
could only move at a speed set by the track
master and only stop at specific sites for 45
seconds to two minutes.
During a normal infrared survey, a

This thermogram shows an
increased temperature (white
area) at a cable termination.

thermographer begins at point A and
continues to points B, C, D, and beyond
in a logical, time-efficient manner. As the
subway's survey began, however, it quickly
became apparent that proceeding from
one point to the next wouldn't always be
possible when working on active tracks.
If, for example, the track master directed
the work train to "clear the track," it would
immediately have to move to the next
sidetrack or onto another track. These
interruptions made keeping accurate
records of what was inspected and where
the survey left off on each track more
difficult than usual. Thus, to cover as
much ground as possible in the short
timeframes that were available, infrared
scanning was frequently performed on
multiple tracks during the same work
MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM | 41


http://www.jerseyir.com http://www.MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology October 2016

Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 1
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - Cover1
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - Cover2
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 1
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 2
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