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Thermography reduces furnace down time
November 5th, 2007

Loading induction furnaceWhen a furnace problem at steel foundry Darwins Holdings Limited was slowing production they called on E9 Limited and NAMTEC to help.

One of the induction furnaces at Darwins’ Tinsley foundry was being tripped out by an over heating cooling circuit whenever the power was raised much past 50%. This was slowing production, as each load was taking longer to melt.

A problem like this would normally require the furnace to be taken out of commission for several days while the cooling circuits were dismantled, cleaned and reassembled. But with tight production schedules to meet this would not have been possible in the foreseeable future.

E9 suggested using thermal imaging to analyse the cooling circuits of the furnace. This would allow any overheating or blocked pipe work to be clearly identified.

Thermal imaging furnace controller and cooling systemBy taking thermal images of the cooling systems as the furnace was powered up, E9 and Darwins were able to quickly trace the overheating circuit and other circuits that were remaining cold due to blockages restricting the flow.

By identifying the parts of the cooling system most likely to require cleaning, the downtime for maintenance was drastically reduced.

Fred Pacini of Darwins Limited said “We couldn’t afford for the furnace to be down for any length of time and using thermal imaging to home in on the problem has really helped to reduce the downtime.”

In fact Darwins found this technique so useful that they asked E9 back to survey a second furnace.

Dr John Trainor, MD of E9 Limited was pleased at the success of this project “We are always looking for new uses for thermography and this was an interesting challenge. In this project thermal imaging allowed us to see exactly how the system heated up and cooled in real time making the identification of problems in the system relatively straightforward.”


NAMTEC is a not for profit organisation established to increase the competitiveness of the UK metals industry. Services include a technical helpline, signposting to the science base and project management. NAMTEC is financed by the Department of Trade and Industry, Yorkshire Forward and the European Union’s Objective One Programme.

E9 Limited operates from bases in Coventry and Sheffield, offering a range of industrial consultancy products and services. E9 supports industrial and manufacturing companies through development and change by implementing continuous improvements to company operations through a range of management and technical products and services.

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