FLIR Systems Ltd
THE WORLD’S SIXTH SENSE
FLIR Systems designs, develops, manufactures, markets and distributes technologies that enhance perception and awareness. The company brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life through its thermal imaging and visible-light imaging technology and systems for measurement, diagnosis, location and advanced threat detection. Its products improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance productivity, increase energy efficiency and make the workplace safer.
Renowned as a pioneer in thermal imaging, FLIR Systems was founded in 1978, originally providing infrared imaging systems that were installed on vehicles for use in conducting energy audits. Today, its advanced systems and components are used for a wide variety of thermal imaging tasks, situational awareness and security applications, electro-mechanical inspection and condition monitoring, research and development, manufacturing process control, fire detection and environmental monitoring. To this day, building science to minimise energy loss remains a key market for FLIR.
FLIR Systems has six operating segments – surveillance, instruments, OEM and emerging markets, maritime, security and finally, detection. Of these six, ‘instruments’ is of greatest interest to trade and industry and the second largest segment in the company’s portfolio. This division provides devices that image, measure and assess thermal energy, gases and other environmental elements for industrial, commercial and scientific applications. These products are manufactured across five production sites, three in the USA and two in Europe; Sweden and Estonia.
A model to suit every application and every budget
The options that FLIR Systems provides for measuring temperature and studying thermal performance have never been greater. Not only does the company offer a huge range of models to suit all thermal application needs but the technology is also affordable and very easy to use. Thermal cameras now come in various shapes, sizes and degrees of sophistication and FLIR continues to invest heavily in the development of new and complementary technologies to differentiate itself from competitors.
One of its most significant innovations is MSX® or multi-spectral imaging. Developed to make it easier for engineers to interpret thermal images and diagnose problems, MSX instantly generates a definitive, all-in-one thermal picture that provides as much detail as possible, whether the thermal image appears on the camera screen, a pc, mobile device, smart phone or in a written report. It captures visual data from the built-in digital camera and radiometric data from the thermal camera. Internal software then analyses the image and superimposes key elements from the visual image as a high-contrast ‘skeleton’ on the thermal output.
This all happens in real time and without compromising temperature measurement accuracy or minimising visibility. The result is an image showing unprecedented detail.
Increasing value-for-money applies at the troubleshooting end of the product line too. These point-and-shoot cameras now have a variety of sophisticated features – once only available in higher end models - and come in a choice of styles that now also includes pocket sized. FLIR cameras and thermal cores are also regularly mounted on drones for aerial inspection.
Lightweight devices that plug into smart phones to convert them into thermal imaging cameras were introduced a couple of years ago but recently the technology has moved on again. The world’s first smartphone with a fully integrated FLIR thermal imaging camera is now on the market, innovation made possible by FLIR Systems development of its Lepton® micro longwave detector, the size of mobile SIM card.
Indeed, this breakthrough has also allowed thermal imaging technology to be repackaged to meet the needs of an even wider audience. The design freedom provided by the Lepton® core, combined with another new technology called Infrared Guided Measurement – IGM™ - has led to the introduction of the FLIR Test and Measurement range of instruments with imaging capability. Typical examples are the FLIR imaging thermometers, moisture meters, clamp meters and multi-meters.
IGM allows engineers, electricians and building inspectors to work smarter and more efficiently by visually guiding them to temperature problems that are invisible to the naked eye. This FLIR technology elevates test tools to a whole new level of functionality, saving valuable inspection time.
Fixed networked cameras
Another important growth area for FLIR thermal imaging is in continuous monitoring to assure quality and safety. Manufacturers are increasingly considering machine vision to optimise production and, for many, systems based on infrared technology are proving the best way to increase product throughput and quality, minimise waste and improve profitability.
Through its introduction of discrete fixed mounted thermal cameras which are fully compliant with GeniCAM™ and GigEVision™, FLIR Systems has provided industry with infrared machine vision which is instantly ready for quick and easy network installation. GeniCAM provides a generic programming interface for simple set-up and GigEVision allows fast image transfer using low cost standard cables of long distances. And both standards make it easy to integrate software and similarly compliant equipment from different vendors.
Protecting assets and people from fire is an area for which thermal imaging is least known but, thanks to the FLIR Systems’ development, it is now one of the most cost-effective methods around. Its application flexibility and rapid return on investment present an attractive proposition for any site or safety manager.
Cameras can be installed almost anywhere to monitor vital equipment, other valuable assets and help to enhance worker safety. These devices are particularly useful for round-the-clock monitoring of critical vessels, electrical substations and hotspots in waste bunkers or coal piles.
For nearly 50 years, FLIR Systems has been at the forefront of developing thermal imaging to the point where it can benefit everyone. The technology is now available at the touch of a button so the user can quickly identify gaps in insulation, electrical faults and monitor the performance of machinery. Equally, it can check the gas cylinder level on the barbeque or detect the freshest loaf of bread in the supermarket! Thanks to FLIR Systems, thermal imaging has become truly universal.
- The World’s Sixth Sense in Their Words video: http://www.flir.co.uk/wss/
- For more information, go to FLIR’s web site at www.flir.com