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Volume 31, Issue 2

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Speed up recovery process, improve quality and add to contractor credibility

By John Anderson, FLIR

Thermal imaging tools integrated with moisture meters can speed up the post-hurricane recovery process, improve repair quality, and add to contractor credibility. A thermal imaging camera can help you identify moisture areas faster and can lead to more accurate inspections with fewer call backs for verification by insurance companies. Many times, a good thermal image sent via email may be sufficient documentation to authorize additional work, leading to improved efficiency in the repair process.

Post-event process

Contractors need to be able to evaluate water damage quickly and accurately after a hurricane or other storm event. This can be a challenge using traditional tools, especially pinless (non-invasive) moisture meters that offer a nondestructive measurement of moisture in wood, concrete and gypsum. Operating on the principle of electrical impedance, pinless moisture meters read wood using a scale of 5 to 30 percent moisture content (MC); they read non-wood materials on a relative scale of 0 to 100 percent MC. [1] While simple to use, identifying damage with any traditional moisture meter alone is a tedious process, often requiring at least 30 to 40 readings. And the accuracy of the readings is only as good as the user’s ability to find and measure all the damaged locations.

Using a thermal imaging camera along with a moisture meter is much more accurate. These cameras work by detecting the infrared radiation emitted by objects in the scene. The sensor takes the energy and translates it into a visible image. The viewer sees temperatures in the image as a range of colors: red, orange and yellow indicate heat, while dark blue, black or purple signifies colder temperatures associated with evaporation or water leaks and damage. Using this type of equipment speeds up the process and tracks the source of the leak—providing contractors with a visual to guide them and confirm where the damage is located. Even a basic thermal imaging camera, one that is used in conjunction with a smart phone, is far quicker and more accurate at locating moisture damage than a typical noninvasive spot meter.

Infrared Guided Measurement (IGM)

An infrared (IR) thermal imaging camera paired with a moisture meter is a great combination. The user can find the cold spots with the thermal camera and then confirm moisture is present with the moisture meter. This combination is widely used today, prompting FLIR to develop the MR176 infrared guided measurement (IGM™) moisture meter. This all-in-one moisture meter and thermal imager allows contractors to use thermal imaging and take moisture meter readings for a variety of post-storm cleanup tasks. These include inspecting the property, preparing for remediation, and—during remediation— assessing the effectiveness of dehumidifying equipment. The tool can also be used down the road after remediation to identify leaks that may—or may not—be related to the hurricane.

During the initial property inspection, the thermal imaging camera visually identifies cold spots, which are usually associated with moisture evaporation. Without infrared imaging, the user is left to blindly test for moisture—and may miss areas of concern altogether.

While preparing for remediation, a tool that combines a thermal imaging camera with a relative humidity and temperature (RH&T) sensor can provide contractors with an easy way to calculate the equipment they will need for the project. This type of tool measures the weight of the water vapor in the air in grains per pound (GPP), relative humidity, and dew point values. Restoration contractors know how many gallons of water per day each piece of equipment can remove and, using the data provided by the meter, can determine the number of dehumidifiers needed in a given space to dry out the area.

The dehumidifiers reduce moisture and restores proper humidity levels, preventing the build-up of air toxins and neutralizing odors from hurricane water damage. Since the equipment is billed back to the customer or insurance company on a per-hour basis, contractors must balance the costs with the need for full area coverage.

During remediation, moisture meters with built-in thermal imaging cameras provide key data that contractors can use to spot check the drying process and equipment effectiveness over time. In addition, thermal imaging can be used to identify areas that may not be drying as efficiently as others and can guide the placement of drying equipment.

The equipment is also useful after the fact, if, for example, contractors are looking to identify the source of small leaks that may or may not be related to the damage from the hurricane. Using a moisture meter/thermal camera combination can help them track the location and source of the moisture, as well as determine how much is remaining.

Remodeling contractors who need to collect general moisture data can benefit from thermal imaging moisture meters, as well. For example, tracing a leak back to its source can be a challenge. A leak in an attic may originate in one area of the roof and then run down into different parts of the structure. A moisture meter equipped with a thermal imager can help them determine where the leak actually started by tracing a water trail up the roof rafter to the entrance spot.

Choosing the right technology

A variety of thermal imaging tools are available, depending upon whether the contractor is looking for general moisture information, or needs more precise information on temperature and relative humidity levels.

For example, the FLIR MR176 IGM™ moisture meter with replaceable hygrometer is an all-in-one tool equipped with a built-in thermal camera that can visually guide contractors to the precise spot where they need to measure moisture. An integrated laser and crosshair helps pinpoint the surface location of the issue found with the thermal camera. The meter comes with an integrated pinless sensor and an external pin probe, which gives contractors the flexibility to take either non-intrusive or intrusive measurements.

Coupled with a field-replaceable temperature and relative humidity sensor, and automatically calculated environmental readings, the MR176 can quickly and easily produce the right measurements during the hurricane restoration and remediation process. Users can customize thermal images by selecting which measurements to integrate, including moisture, temperature, relative humidity, dew point, vapor pressure and mixing ratio. They can also choose from several color palates, and use a lock-image setting to prevent extreme hot and cold temperatures from skewing images during scanning.

Also available is the FLIR MR160, which is a good tool for remodeling contractors looking for general moisture information, for example, pinpointing drywall damage from a washing machine, finding the source of a roof leak that is showing up in flooring or drywall, as well as locating ice dams. It has many of the features of the MR176 but does not include the integrated RH&T sensor.

Capturing images with a thermal camera builds contractor trust and credibility

Capturing images of hurricane-related damage with a thermal camera provides the type of documentation that builds contractor credibility and increases trust with customers. These images help customers understand and accept contractor recommendations. Credibility increases when customers are shown images demonstrating conclusively why an entire wall must be removed and replaced.

When customers experience a water event, proper photo documentation can bolster their insurance claims. The inclusion of thermal images will definitely improve insurance payout outcomes and speed up the process.

Post-storm cleanup tool for the crew

By providing basic infrared imaging functions, in combination with multiple moisture sensing technologies and the calculations made possible by the RH&T sensor, an imaging moisture meter such as the MR176 is a tool the entire remediation crew can carry during post-storm cleanup.


[1] Types of Moisture Meters, https://www.grainger.com/content/qt-types-of-moisture-meters-346, retrieved 5/29/18

Expert service providers update aging technology with minimal disruption

By Steve Dunn, Aftermarket Product Line Manager, Russelectric Inc.

Aging power control and automation systems can carry risk, both in terms of downtime of mission-critical power systems, through reduced availability of replacement components and the knowledge to replace existing devices within. Of course, as components age, their risk of failure increases. Additionally, as technology advances, these same components are discontinued and become unavailable, and over time, service personnel lose the know‐how to support the older generation of products. At the same time, though, complete replacement of these aging systems can be extremely expensive, and may also require far more downtime or additional space than these facilities can sustain.

The solution, of course, is the careful maintenance and timely replacement of power control and automation system components. By replacing only some components of the system at any given time, customers can benefit from the new capabilities and increased reliability of current technology, all while uptime is maintained. In particular, expert service providers can provide in-house wiring, testing, and vetting of system upgrades before components even ship to customers, ensuring minimal downtime. These services are particularly useful in in healthcare facilities and datacenter applications, where power control is mission-critical and downtime is costly.

Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) controllers and switchgear systems require some different types of maintenance and upgrades due to the differences in their components; however, the cost savings and improved uptime that maintenance and upgrades can provide are available to customers with either of these types of systems. The following maintenance programs and system upgrades can extend the lifetime of a power control system, minimize downtime in mission-critical power systems, and save costs.

Audits and Preventative Maintenance

Before creating a maintenance schedule or beginning upgrades, getting an expert technician into a facility to audit the existing system provides long-term benefits and provides the ability to prioritize. With a full equipment audit, a technician or application engineer who specializes in upgrading existing systems can look at an existing system and provide customers with a detailed migration plan for upgrading the system, in order of priority, as well as a plan for preventative maintenance.

Whenever possible, scheduled preventative maintenance should be performed by factory-trained service employees of the power control system OEM, rather than by a third party. In addition to having the most detailed knowledge of the equipment, factory-trained service employees can typically provide the widest range of maintenance services. While third-party testing companies may only maintain power breakers and protective relay devices, OEM service providers will also maintain the controls within the system.

Through these system audits and regular maintenance plans, technicians can ensure that all equipment is and remains operational, and they can identify components that are likely to become problematic before they actually fail and cause downtime in a mission-critical system.

Upgrades for ATS Control Systems with Minimal System Disruption

In ATS controller systems, control upgrades can provide customers with greater power monitoring and metering. In addition, replacing the controls for aging ATS systems ensures that all components of the system controls are still in production, and therefore will be available for replacement at a reasonable cost and turnaround time. In comparison, trying to locate out-of-production components for an old control package can lead to high costs and a long turnaround time for repairs.

The most advanced service providers minimize downtime during ATS control by pre-wiring the control and fully testing it within their own production facilities. When Russelectric performs ATS control upgrades, a pre-wired, fully-tested control package is shipped to the customer in one piece. The ATS is shut down only for as long as it takes to install the new controls retrofit, minimizing disruption.  

In addition, new technology also improves system usability, similar to making the switch from a flip phone to a smartphone. New ATS controls from Russelectric, for example, feature a sizeable color screen with historical data and alarm reporting. All of the alerts, details and information on the switch are easily accessible, providing the operator with greater information when it matters most. This upgrade also paves the way for optional remote monitoring through a SCADA or HMI system, further improving usability and ease of system monitoring.

Switchgear System upgrades

For switchgear systems, four main upgrades are possible in order to improve system operations and reliability without requiring a full system replacement: operator interface upgrades, PLC upgrades, breaker upgrades, and controls retrofits. Though each may be necessary at different times for different power control systems, all four upgrades are cost-effective, extend system lifespans, and minimize downtime.

Operator Interface Upgrades for Switchgear Systems

Similar to the ATS control upgrade, an operator interface (OI) or HMI upgrade for a switchgear power control system can greatly improve system usability, making monitoring easier and more effective for operators. This upgrade enables operators to see the system power flow, as well as to view alarms and system events in real time.

Also similar to ATS control upgrades, upgrading the OI also ensures that components will be in production and easily available for repairs. The greatest benefit, though, is providing operators real-time vision into system alerts without requiring them to walk through the system itself and search for indicator lights and alarms. Though upgrading this interface does not impact the actual system control, it provides numerous day-to-day benefits, enabling faster and easier troubleshooting and more timely maintenance.

Upgrades to PLC and Communication Hardware without Disrupting Operations

Many existing systems utilize legacy or approaching end-of-life PLC architecture. PLC upgrades allow for upgrading a switchgear control system to the newest technology with minimal program changes. Relying on expert OEM service providers for this process can also simplify the process of upgrading PLC and communications hardware, protecting customers’ investments in power control systems while extending noticeable system benefits.

A PLC upgrade by Russelectric includes all new PLC and communication hardware for the controls of the existing system, but maintains the existing logic and converts it for the latest technology. Upgrading the technology does not require new logic or operational sequences. As a result, the operations of the system remain unchanged and existing wiring is maintained. This greatly reduces the likelihood that the system will need to be fully recommissioned and minimizes downtime necessary for testing. Russelectric’s unique process of both converting existing logic and, as previously mentioned, testing components in their own production facility before sending out to the facility for installation, gives them a correspondingly unique ability to keep a system operational through the entire upgrade process.  In addition, Russelectric has developed some very unique processes for installation, using a sequence to systematically replace the PLC’s, replacing only one PLC at a time, and converting the communications from PLC to PLC as components are replaced.  This allows Russelectric to keep systems operational throughout the process. Russelectric’s experts minimize the risk of mission-critical power system downtime.

Breaker & Protective Relay Upgrades for Added Reliability and Protection

Breaker upgrades may often be necessary to ensure system protection and reliability, even through many years of normal use. Two different types of breaker modifications or upgrades are available for switchgear power control systems: breaker retrofill and breaker retrofit.  A retrofill breaker upgrade calls for an entirely new device in place of an existing breaker system. Retrofill upgrades maintain existing protections, lengthen service life, and provide added benefits of power metering and other add-on protections, like arc flash protections and maintenance of UL approvals.

Breaker retrofits can provide these same benefits, but they do so through a process of reengineering an existing breaker configuration. This upgrade requires a somewhat more labor-intensive installation, but provides generally the same end result. Whether a system requires a retrofit or retrofill upgrade is largely determined by the existing power breakers in a system.

For medium voltage systems, protective relay upgrades from single function solid state or mechanical protective devices to multifunction protective devices provide protection and reliability upgrades to a system.  Upgrading to multifunction protective relays provide enhanced protection, lengthen service life of a system, and provide added benefits of power metering, communications and other add-on protections, like arc flash protections.

Russelectric prewires and tests new doors with the new protective devices ready for installation.  This allows for minimal disruption to a system and allows for easy replacement.   

Controls Retrofits Revive Aging Systems

For older switchgear systems that predate PLC controls, one of the most effective upgrades for extending system life and serviceability is a controls retrofit. This process includes a fully new control interior, interior control panels, and doors. This enables customers to replace end-of-life components, update to the latest control equipment and sequence standards, and access benefits of visibility described above for OI upgrades. 

The major consideration and requirement is to maintain the switchgear control wiring interconnect location to eliminate the requirement for new control wiring between other switchgear, ATS’s, and generators.  In retrofitting controls rather than replacing, retrofitting the controls allows the existing wiring to be maintained and provides a major cost savings to the system upgrade. 

Just as with ATS controls retrofits, Russelectric builds the control panels and doors within their own facilities and simulate non-controls components from the customer’s system that are not being replaced. In doing so, technicians can fully test the retrofit before replacing the existing controls. What’s more, Russelectric can provide customers with temporary generators and temporary control panels so that the existing system can be strategically upgraded, one cubicle at a time, while maintaining a fully operational system.

Benefits of an Expert Service Provider

As described throughout this article, relying on expert OEM service providers like Russelectric amplifies the benefits of power control system upgrades. With the right service provided at the right time by industry experts, mission-critical power control systems, like those in healthcare facilities and datacenters, can be upgraded with a minimum of downtime and costs. OEMs are often the greatest experts on their own products, with access to all of the drawings and documentation for each product, and are therefore most able to perform maintenance and upgrades in the most effective and efficient manner.

Some of the most important cost-saving measures for power control system upgrades can only be achieved by OEM service providers. For example, maintaining existing interconnect control wiring between power equipment and external equipment provides key cost savings, as it eliminates the need for electrical contractors in installing a new system. Given that steel and copper substructure hardware can greatly outlast control components, retrofitting these existing components can also provide major cost savings. Finally, having access to temporary controls or power sources, pre-tested components, and the manufacturer’s component knowledge all helps to practically eliminate downtime, saving costs and removing barriers to upgrades. By upgrading a power control system with an OEM service provider, power system customers with mission-critical power systems gain the latest technology without the worry of downtime and huge costs associated with full system replacement.

Using Analytics to Gain a Competitive Edge


Predictive analytics is quickly changing the way businesses effectively allocate their budgets and gain their edge over competitors. However, even companies with highly sophisticated predictive analytics programs still often run into challenges. Here are some ways to leverage your predictive analytics model by Kris Hutton, Director of Product Management at global enterprise governance SaaS provider ACL.

A growing number of companies are taking their predictive or advanced analytics strategy to a new level. They have settled on proof of concept and started to execute on a model designed to predict future targets that can help them either create value or identify loss. These areas run the gamut, from marketing campaigns to sales to supply chain and/or vendors.

In a hypercompetitive business environment, predictive analytics is fast becoming a way for organizations to gain an edge over competitors and allocate budgets more effectively.

However, even for companies with highly sophisticated predictive analytics programs, challenges abound. Here are three ways to sustain the effort and ensure it’s generating positive returns.



Thursday, 18 October 2018 14:54

3 Ways To Leverage Predictive Analytics

This document gives guidelines for monitoring hazards within a facility as a part of an overall emergency management and continuity programme by establishing the process for hazard monitoring at facilities with identified hazards.

It includes recommendations on how to develop and operate systems for the purpose of monitoring facilities with identified hazards. It covers the entire process of monitoring facilities.

This document is generic and applicable to any organization. The application depends on the operating environment, the complexity of the organization and the type of identified hazards.



Bill Villella awoke Tuesday at about 5 a.m. and stepped into foot-high water that had accumulated in his mobile home.

It had been raining all night -- as much as 13 inches fell in a span of 48 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

Villella's wife Laura woke to her husband's yelling and, still in her pajamas, grabbed her phone, purse and medications. The carpets were coming off and the ceiling was drooping. The couple waded through the home as the water continued to rise, reaching the kitchen, where Laura grabbed a meat grinder and broke a window to try to get out.

But the water outside was roughly 2 inches from the window sill. So they waited.



(TNS) - Now that the most damaging aspects of the storm has passed, local emergency management officials are in recovery mode.

"Before things happened, we already had a process in place," said acting Emergency Management Director and Incident Commander Adrienne Owen. "We just transitioned into recovery mode and headed to normalcy."

Hurricane Michael ripped through the Panhandle Wednesday, leaving an aftermath of a trail of downed trees, power lines and broken communication systems. Most of the damages have been reported at private property, officials said.



Thursday, 18 October 2018 14:46

EOC: We're in Recovery Mode

Many organizations are at risk to some extent by single points of failure, resources that have no redundancy and whose loss could have a significant impact.

In fact, this is a surprisingly widespread problem which could leave many if not most organizations hanging by a thread, whether they know it or not.

In today’s blog, I’ll sketch out some of the main issues surrounding SPOFs and share some tips for protecting yourself against their impact.



Resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, or toughness.” With the rise in both natural disasters and cyberthreats, today’s businesses must ensure not only their physical resilience, but the resilience of their IT systems so they can continually provide a great customer experience.

But how do you know if you’re prepared for the worst? Test, test, test. In fact, one method of testing is known as “chaos engineering,” which is defined as “the discipline of experimenting on a distributed system in order to build confidence in the system’s capability to withstand turbulent conditions in production.” (From http://principlesofchaos.org/)

Chaos Engineering Blog

The goal of chaos testing is to expose weaknesses in your systems before they manifest themselves as some end-user service being down. By doing this on purpose, you and your systems become better at handling unforeseen failures.

The goal of chaos testing is to expose weaknesses in your systems before they manifest themselves as some end-user service being down. By doing this on purpose, you and your systems become better at handling unforeseen failures.

Typically, though, we don’t look for a service’s complete failure, or for high latency in a service’s response. Couple this with the fact that almost all modern IT systems are very distributed in nature, and we have other issues like cascading failures that are very hard to foresee from a test team’s perspective.



You may remember my last blog article about blockchain, I talked about how business continuity and disaster recovery will benefit from the use of blockchain technology. Now we ask, “How should businesses identify if blockchain is a good tool for the job?” The term “decentralization” is a blockchain’s main characteristic which involves game theory and cryptography as a core of its protocol design. It includes features such as immutability, liveness and safety guarantees of transaction, and censorship or attack from malicious actors.

Public and Private Blockchain

Did you know there are public and private blockchains? Public blockchains are type networks that anyone can access and add transactions to. This ensures no single entity has control, but rather everyone must trust the network’s protocol.  To give an example, Bitcoin and Ethereum are available on the public blockchain.

Other organizations, such as Hyperledger, that are private enterprises cater to companies who engage in global transactions, such as supply chain and financial services. Access to Hyperledger is permissioned and controlled to determine who can both join and access the network.



Wednesday, 17 October 2018 15:14

Deciding on Blockchain

Growth. It’s what CEOs are after. Sometimes it’s straightforward. Other times growth requires a company to move into new or unfamiliar areas. How can a company do this? Many have internal units or programs dedicated to driving breakthrough innovation. But, according to Cutter Consortium Senior Consultant Rick Eagar, there’s another, new model — the Breakthrough Incubator — that’s helping companies develop and launch radically new products, services or businesses that deliver significant value.

Eager, and colleagues Max Senechal, Michael Kolk, Tim Barder, Mitch Beaumont, and Kurt Baes describe the Breakthrough Incubator approach, and its benefits, in their recently published Executive Update, “The Breakthrough Incubator: A Radical Model for Innovative New Businesses.” The model, they write, delivers major benefits in terms of speed, cost, and likelihood of success.

The Breakthrough Incubator model is a breakthrough innovation itself. Typically, it starts with a company’s top team’s desire to create new business based on innovative products or services in an area that is non-core to the existing business. Rather than conducting the program in-house, the company engages an outside partner to take on the entire innovation process. The model goes beyond classic open innovation because it externalizes an entire innovation, product development, and new business creation effort. Says Eagar:



Wednesday, 17 October 2018 15:12

The Holy Grail of Innovation Management

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