Workshop participants enjoyed exercises that helped them become familiar with their IR camera controls. See Heartland's blog, ForwardThinking, for more photos from the workshop. (Photos by Danielle Rosheim, Heartland Consumers Power District)
UGP customers hail IR camera workshop a success
Proving again that infrared thermography is one popular diagnostic tool, 18 utility and weatherization professionals showed up for An Introduction to Thermographic Principles, a workshop hosted by Heartland Consumers Power District, March 20 to 21.
Energy Services teamed up with Clean Energy Ambassadors (CEA) to sponsor the event at Heartland's Madison, S.D., headquarters. "Heartland was a great host," said CEA AmeriCorps Energy Corps Member Anthony Cutler. "[Customer Relations and Marketing Manager] Steve Moses did a great job of setting things up. We couldn't have asked for a better facility."
The Snell Group presented the workshop, which was similar to one Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) sponsored back in November 2012. The material covered home energy auditing, building inspection and electrical system maintenance. Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman, who has a municipal utility background, observed that maintenance engineers may be surprised to discover how useful it is to know about building inspection. "When you work at a small utility, you wear a lot of hats, so it's good to get a broad perspective," he said. "One well-timed inspection can save a city enough money to pay for the training in one day."
Equipment Loan Manager Gary Hoffmann attended the NPPD event and agreed with Horstman that the training could benefit both energy auditors and maintenance specialists. "We've learned from the Equipment Loan Program that the more people know about IR cameras, the more uses they find for them," said Hoffmann.
Small classes, big experience
The attendance indicated that Western's customers have caught on to the versatility of the IR camera, too. "The class size was about perfect," admitted Cutler. "Snell prefers to limit the size of its classes so that the participants can get the attention they need."
The course is set up to provide plenty of hands-on time with the cameras. Some participants brought the cameras they use in their own utility programs, but Western and Snell supplied several different models for those who didn't. Scott Kittelson, operations supervisor with West Central Electric Cooperative in Murdo, S.D., used one of the available cameras. "We haven't invested in a camera yet, so I appreciated the chance to go over basic camera set-up and adjustments," he said. "This was a helpful workshop for people who haven't had a lot of experience with infrared thermography."
Line Superintendent Warren Schmitt of NorVal Electric Cooperative enjoyed the "real-world" exercises of hunting for leaks and hot spots in the building. Norval is one of those smaller co-ops that Horstman described, so Schmitt expects the training to come in handy for both home audits and line maintenance.
Host training, share training
Western thanks CEA and Heartland for their hard work in making An Introduction to Thermographic Principles, such a success. The big turn out and enthusiastic reviews suggest that utilities are gaining appreciation for this flexible tool and want to learn more about the many uses for infrared thermography.
Energy Services welcomes the opportunity to make that training available to our customers, whether by cosponsoring the workshop as we did with CEA and Heartland, or by simply promoting an event a customer has already planned.
Utilities that would like to cosponsor a workshop on infrared thermography or any other topic can contact their regional Energy Services representative. If your utility has scheduled a training event, you can add it to the Energy Events Calendar, or send it to Energy Services Bulletin. And once the training is over don't forget to share your ideas for using IR cameras!