FLIR thermal imaging cameras help determine road conditions in Finland
The roads in Finland comprise 78,141 kilometers of highways, paved roads and gravel roads. Monitoring and maintaining these roads can be challenging in a country where in the winter temperatures can drop to -40 °C and days become so short that the sun does not clear the horizon at all in some areas. It is therefore not surprising that Finnish road inspectors are always looking into new non-destructive testing technologies that can make their job easier and more effective.
That is exactly what the Finnish company Roadscanners has done: they developed an efficient road diagnostics system. Recently Roadscanners has added a new high tech measurement device to the Roadscanner toolbox: thermal imaging cameras from FLIR Systems.
Roadscanners is a consulting company specialized in surveys and damage analyses on roads, streets, bridges, railways and airport runways. Apart from offering its consultancy services Roadscanners also sells its road diagnostic systems, such as the Road Doctor. Its main office is in the Finnish city Rovaniemi but through its partners Roadscanners is represented throughout Europe and North America. It is continuously developing new methods for road diagnostics, with thermal imaging technology as one of the latest additions.
The importance of integration
The combination of thermal imaging data with the data from the other sensors is of vital importance, according to Saarenketo. “It is only when you put these data all together when you get an accurate view of the road conditions.”
The thermal imaging camera is mounted on top of the Roadscanners’ diagnostic vehicle. Currently FLIR A315 thermal imaging cameras are being used, but a switch to the FLIR A615 is being considered.
To be able to cover the entire road, a wide angle lens with 90° Field of View (FoV) is used. The data collected by the visible light camera, the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and the thermal imaging camera are combined and stamped with the GPS location to enable accurate mapping of the problem areas that will need repair.
One of the reasons why Roadscanners has chosen a thermal imaging camera by FLIR Systems is the connectivity. “The fact that these cameras have GigE Vision connectivity is a great plus. GigE Vision is a new camera interface standard developed using the Gigabit Ethernet communication protocol. With GigE Vision, hardware and software from different vendors can interoperate seamlessly over GigE connections, allowing reliable high speed data collection and integration.”
Another reason is the optics. “FLIR was the only thermal imaging supplier that offered interchangeable lenses with a 90° FoV as one of the options. Since we want to be able to cover the entire width of the road this was also an important factor for us.”
FLIR: a good long term partner
The support from FLIR to make the integration process easier was also crucial, according to Saarenketo. “The support we received from FLIR in integrating the thermal imaging camera in our own system was very good. We were supplied with all the information we needed.”
According to Saarenketo this was one of the reasons why Roadscanners chose a FLIR thermal imaging camera. “Of course both the quality and price of the camera played a part in our choice as well, but for us the integration into our road diagnostics system was of vital importance, so we deliberately chose a partner that we thought would support us in the integration process. As it turned out, we were right: in our experience FLIR is a very good long term partner.”
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