Construction Technology That’s Red-Hot

PCL is in the business of delivering quality construction projects. One of the tools that the organization uses to do this is a thermographic camera. Similarly to a regular camera, which creates an image from visible light, a thermographic camera creates an image from infrared radiation.
An office building as seen through a
thermographic camera.
A thermographic camera.


The camera uses an infrared lens to identify the different temperatures of objects. By reviewing the images, a well-trained thermographer can identify abnormalities in the image that can point to the root cause of a potential issue.
For example, wet insulation in a wall will produce a different thermal image than dry insulation. The camera can pinpoint the location of the issue so it can be repaired.


“We purchased an infrared camera that can be used to detect construction anomalies, so they can be corrected efficiently,” said Terry Brickman, PCL’s national director of quality management in the United States. “It is a nondestructive way to determine if a problem exists.”
Problems can be detected and corrected early, saving time and money for PCL’s clients. The camera can be used in a variety of situations, such when as scanning a building envelope to look for water or air leakage, a floor to locate the glycol heating tubes embedded in the concrete, a roof to look for leaks or wet insulation, or electrical work to see if all the lugs and attachments are tight. Loose fittings will vibrate, causing friction that shows up on the camera as a "hot spot."


Airports use the same infrared technology to detect elevated body temperatures among travelers, which has helped to limit the spread of viral and bacterial infections like H1N1 and SARS. It can also be used to locate injuries in animals, which, unlike humans, don’t have the ability to tell a veterinarian where they are experiencing pain.

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