James Seffrin with Infraspection Institute

Industrial Talk is onsite at SMRP 31 and talking to James Seffrin, Founder of Infraspection Institute about “Infrared training and certification for improved asset management”.  Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation:

  • Industrial innovation and problem-solving at SMRP conference. 0:03
    • Scott Mackenzie welcomes industrial professionals to the podcast and encourages them to join SMRP.
  • Reliability, thermography, and IoT in the industry. 1:40
    • Jim reflects on 40 years in thermography business, with last 10 years accelerating quickly.
    • Jim highlights the importance of proper training and interpretation in infrared thermography, despite advancements in technology.
  • Thermography technology advancements and industry standards. 5:37
    • Thermal imaging technology has become more affordable and user-friendly over the past 20 years, with a significant advancement being the integration of UAVs/drones with thermal imaging.
    • Thermography use in electrical equipment maintenance to increase safety and efficiency, with new standard mandating annual inspections.
  • Infrared inspections and training for maintenance compliance. 9:32
    • New standard for infrared inspections in industrial settings, with annual or bi-annual frequency depending on maintenance program and history of failures.
    • Jim explains that most people start with a level one course, which covers qualitative applications such as infrared spectrum, electrical systems, and structural systems.
    • Jim recommends that students be familiar with the structure system they'll be inspecting before taking a level two course on quantitative or accurate temperature measurement.
  • Thermography and cell imaging in industrial settings. 14:04
    • Jim advises taking a level one course, gaining experience, and then advancing to levels two and three based on comfort and budget.
    • James Saffron of Infraspection Institute discusses the importance of reliability in industrial settings.

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Company Website: https://www.infraspection.com/




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thermography, maintenance, equipment, level, technology, years, Infraspection, electrical system, inspections, standard, people, reliability, industrial, jim, person, drones, scott, world, applications, splice


Welcome to the Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go.


Alright, once again, thank you very much for joining Industrial Talk. And thank you for your continued support of a platform that is solely dedicated to you industrial professionals all around the world. You are bold, you are brave, you dare greatly you innovate, you solve problems, you make the world a better place. Why not celebrate you on this platform, because you deserve it for an interview in the video camera. And we are broadcasting from the 31st annual SMRP conference here in Orlando. And it was a great event, it is still a great event. The lot of education, a lot of individuals that are focused on solving problems collaborating. And if you have any interest whatsoever, any interest whatsoever in those professions, you need to become a member of SMRP Go out to SMRP.org Find out more, you're not going to be disappointed one bit. And then you're going to be able to connect and network with Jim. Jim Seffrin separate. And in that, I'm looking at the looking at the name, Infraspection Institute. Let's get cracking. Sorry, Jim. That's a heck of a mouthful. Just FYI. Hey, you having a good conference? Absolutely.


Scott's pleasure to be here refurb and participate in the SMRP annual conference that for well over 10 years now. And it's great to great to be back, see old friends, meet new friends and help expand our horizons by learning what's new, and also sharing with others? What's new in our business?


I gotta tell you, you probably have seen a lot of changes taking place in the world of your business, the reliability, all of the stuff, you must have seen so much changes. Absolutely.


I've actually been in the business now going on 40 years. That isn't the thermography business. Yeah. The last 10 years have just been accelerating so quickly. With with change,


do you do think that people are beginning to I mean, it just seems like I've been a part of organizations where they're saying, Hey, we're, we're Reliability centered, you know, organization, we're all in to the reliability. And, you know, the next hour, they're back to being reactive, you know, it didn't take long. And it's, it was more of a catchphrase, but now it's, it means something, it just seems like there's more traction being gained as EDC that


we do we do it certainly some companies pay lip service or do the absolute minimum budget is even a little bit is better than nothing at all. But we've seen companies embracing this because they realized that the future depends their future depends upon being reliable and profitable. And if you're not reliable, you can't make a profit in today's tight markets.


He you know, and I think that, and then I can be completely wrong. And you and you don't have to agree with me, however, I think with the with the COVID. And I think businesses realized how maybe vulnerable they are, and they need to have some sort of resiliency. So what do I do to be able to do that? And as just a that's a that's a reliability, acid management? You know, question you that's, that's what you need to do. And I think that that's sort of accelerated, without


a doubt. We've seen some major changes since the shutdown, companies coming back needing to retrain people, retrain them properly, quickly and effectively, to help them be more proficient their jobs. does.


Does your organization also provide training in thermography? Or do is that is that the core business that is


our core businesses since 1984? We providing been providing training, certification and support for infrared thermographers? Worldwide?


No way, way. Well, that's it. So let me ask you this, with all the buzz buzz around IoT. Is there any issues with the IoT IoT that devices and sticking out? How does that impact your business? Well,


the despite all the the buzz about AI, which is important, and I OT, thermometer, thermography is still a craft, which requires upon not only the technology of the equipment, and its proper use, but an operator to carry that equipment and carry out the inspections and also to interpret the data. We're certainly seeing technology make inroads. There's permanent sensors now which are affordable can be installed permanently to monitor temperature. They had here the robotic dog. So yeah, yeah, which has an infrared camera that can be pre programmed. outperform routes for exposed equipment. But by and large, the majority of smog is still a person dependent type of technology. And the greatest limiting factor in infrared inspection is not the equipment anymore. It's the technician and what he or she knows in carrying out that inspection. Yeah,


so, but has has the technology thermography changed over the years? And how do you is it your, your your goal, your purpose at the institute to to constantly train and and there's got to be changes that you just keep current right. We work


to keep our courses current and stay up with technological advances. Over the last 20 years, we've seen equipment become much more affordable equipment now costs a fraction of what it did say 10 years 10 years ago. When I first got started in thermal imaging back in 1984, entry level equipment was $35,000. And up No way, and back then automobiles cost under $8,000. So we were fond of saying that we used to carry 35,000 Our instruments in $1,000 vehicles. And now we carry $8,000 instruments in 50,000.


North for that for just a basic Exactly. We used to use it on when I was a lineman. We started using thermography to look at bushings. And, you know, substations I was uh, I climb towers. But the same thing, you know, you're looking at splices, you're, you're, but it was it was it was like something new check this out, Scott, see that? It's, it's white hot. Did we do anything now?


Today, the equipment has gotten to be much more affordable, much more portable, much more sophisticated and user friendly. The, the technology still carried it pretty much the same way with reliant upon an operator. Perhaps the biggest technological advance that we've seen is the marriage of affordable UAVs or SUVs, drones, if you will, and thermal imaging. So that's been that's been huge, especially for things like photovoltaics, remote inspections of things like towers, where you need to get up closer and smokestacks, buildings, roofing systems, these are all applications where drones have made a significant inroad.


What do you see it going? I mean, this is interesting, because I think that that's a that's a fascinating application. And of course, he got the robot dog, which everybody has now at that conferences, right, robot dog, but, but there's a there's a safety use case there, where, you know, stick a robot in where it's, you know, not safe, but you still need to, you know, monitor it.


I think that the overall future of thermography is bright. Currently, the supply of competent, experienced people is far exceeded by the demand. And that's only going to continue, especially in the light of the recent republication of NFPA 70. B, where the document is changed from a recommended practice for electrical equipment, maintenance to a standard for electrical equipment maintenance. And whereas in the previous edition thermography was recommended annually, it's now required annually. So everybody's scrambling to get their maintenance programs in place and get their equipment inspected.


Put in the world of Wouldn't you say? It's it's it's expected? It's it's mandated for an annual? Is it mandated in manufacturing? Where's it mandated? I see the necessity, quite frankly, in the world of utilities. That's because of that's my background, and I and there's a lot of heat out there. Right. And whether it's good, bad or, or whatever and different. Where does that standard? Where does that just continue to be applied?


I think the standard is going to be used to help people guide their maintenance efforts and setting setting up because it's not just about thermography. It's about overall facility maintenance of the electrical system. So recognizing that maintenance is important is first step. Having thermography as a tool is another step where I think it will have the most applications when insurance companies come to a company and say ready to rate your policy. You do have a maintenance program that complies with 70 B, do you not? Yeah. And the other end, unfortunately, if something should happen, or somebody gets hurt, and there's a forensic investigation that's going to be looked to and so he did have maintenance program in place, did you not? Oh, wow. So we'll see. It will take some time. It's not going to be a game changer overnight, but it's a step in the right directions recognizing how the the importance of maintenance Number one, and how certain technologies have matured to the point that they deserve inclusion to the point that they are now no longer a suggestion, but a requirement for compliance with the standard.


So this compliance, what is the standard time? Is it quarterly? By annually? What what is the sort of a good rule of thumb? Well,


under the new version of 70, Bei, the standard, they are calling for infrared inspections at least annually. And if your maintenance program falls under the category three, which means you've had several failures and consecutive maintenance cycles, or you haven't had maintenance in a long period of time, then there the frequency have stepped up to every six months.


Wow. And you better have that thing documented? Exactly. So So with these standards with so it's bright, but how do you how do you train? Because this is a very human centric component. I mean, you've got the technology got the drones, but still, it's all being driven by that skilled individual, whatever he or she may be, right. How do you how do you properly train? How do you keep ahead of that?


Well, at Infraspection is that we offer three levels of training levels, one, two, and three, as they're appropriately named. Everyone starts at level one course, it's a qualitative course, where we teach various applications and more common applications, including but not limited to, infrared spectrum, electrical systems, mechanical systems, structural systems, buildings, roofs, steam systems, machinery, rotating equipment, motors, just to name a few, I think that was probably nine or 10. But that's where most people start is with a level one course then progress as their, they get more experienced in level two. For us, that's quantitative or accurate temperature measurement and level three best practices, we recommend that prior to taking a course that a person be familiar with at least the structure system that they're going to be inspecting, because the monitor is not a point and shoot type of technology, you have to understand in for in theory, heat transfer, and the limitations of the technology as well as how to properly use the equipment in order to interpret the data properly. But in order to interpret that data, you really have to understand how the subject system or structure is put together and how it interacts with its environment in order to make an accurate diagnosis. How


long would that take for me to go through one, two, and three? So what's the typical timeframe level


for us a level one and level two course they're 32 hours each. So it's roughly a week long course, which can either be taken in person in a live instructor led environment or, for us, we have professionally produced prerecorded courses that are web based, so students can log in at any time. But the all of our online courses are designed to be equivalent to the same in person experience. For someone like yourself with a background in line construction line maintenance, and which happens to be my background as well isn't really Yeah, I grew up in the electrical trades. There you go. So


that's why I like you.


There's many other reasons to like me as well, we'll get into this later. With respect to a person like yourself that has that type of experience, you understand electricity, you understand how the system is put together, how it should function, it's a lot easier to teach someone who understands electricity and the electrical system, or at least some aspect of electrical system, operation and construction, it's easier to teach you how to do thermography. The thermography is not the hard part, it's understanding what you're looking at. So it's like anything else. This is a it's a technology which is so dependent upon the operator and his or her skill sets. So we're fond of saying we can teach electricians, demography in a week, but we can't teach demographers how to be an electrician in a week. Yeah,


no, I agree with that. There's so if I want to go to level three. So how much time for that


it really isn't a matter with us. It's a matter of how when you feel comfortable and when your budget allows. Some people like to take a level one course get some time in the field, get some experience under the belt, perhaps even working if you're in a facility with other thermometers, get some time with a mentor to help expand your skill sets and when you feel comfortable in level two, and then eventually level three. We don't have a set timeframe. I've had people who have are on a limited budget coming from overseas and they'll take level one, two and three and three consecutive weeks. I don't recommend that that's


that's a fire hose.


Yeah, it's it's a lot. But many people will take a level one and then within the same year, perhaps the following year advanced to two and then another year or so goes by level three. That's pretty pretty common for us to see.


It just makes sense. I really do. Again, that just brings up great memories. I was just remembered. We were, we were in our patrol vehicle, and it's like, Hey, check this out. Hey, look at that. We didn't know what to do with it. We're just like, yeah, there's heat must be a bad splice. Now, what do we do? Got to do something with it? Or just move on? How do they get a hold of you?


They can, anyone who's interested in learning about more about cell imaging, or thermography, can contact us online at our website, which is www.Infraspection.com Infraspection


infrastructure. I'm gonna, I'm gonna say it's an institute. Let's put it that way. You were absolutely wonderful. Thank you very much.


Thank you, Scott. Pleasure to be here.


All right, listeners, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side, we're going to have all the contact information for Jim out on Industrial Talk.com. Thank you very much for joining. We are broadcasting from the 31st annual SMRP conference. And my recommendation to you, and if you want to hang out with Jim, you need to be a member of SMRP. So go out to SMRP.org make it happen. Be a part of the solution. have those conversations, and then we'll see you next year at the 32nd annual SMRP conference. That's how the math works. All right. Stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


Thank you once again, for joining Industrial Talk. And thank you for your continued support of this platform that celebrates industry professionals, you definitely are making an impact in this world. And we are absolutely so grateful for what you do. James Seffrin. Now I gotta get this name right because I kept on butchering it because it is a mouthful for me. Probably not for many Infraspection Institute, is the location we're going to have as contact information out there. Reliability is the name of the game, the tools that are needed to ensure the proper operation of your, your organization, your your manufacturing line, whatever it might be. Very, very important. Reach out to James, you will not be disappointed. All right, building the platform as I continue to say, join us Industrial Talk.com Go out there and reach out to me have a conversation. Let's see what we can do. And work together and collaborate so that we can innovate. Be bold, be brave, dare greatly I say it all the time. Hang out with James change the world. We're going to have another great conversation shortly.

Industrial Talk is onsite at SMRP 31 and talking to James Seffrin, Founder of Infraspection Institute about "Infrared training and certification for improved asset management"
Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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