One of the airports BAA is managing is Heathrow. It is
situated in the south-east of England, 15 miles from the heart of
London. Heathrow opened in 1946, has 2 main runways and one cross wind
runway. Each year more than 65 million passengers go through one of the
four terminals. Over 80 airline companies, serving more than 180
destinations worldwide come to Heathrow. This makes this airport the
busiest international airport in the world and the second biggest cargo
port, handling approximately 1.3 million tons of cargo.
Heathrows’s Terminal 1 is just one of four terminals. More than 65,000,000 passengers pass through Heathrow each year.
Infrared Image of an inverter in Heathrows baggage handling system
Saving energy to meet the Kyoto Protocol
As a result of the Kyoto protocol, the British
Government has engaged itself to reduce, by 2010, CO2 emissions, which
are largely caused by the generation of electricity and gas, with 20%
compared to 1990. This means that all companies in the UK need to
rationalize and reduce the use of energy. Also Heathrow Airport.
Needless to say that an organization as Heathrow
consumes a lot of energy to stay operational at all times. Buildings,
shops and terminals need to be heated or air-conditioned and lit. Air
traffic control and so much more needs to be powered. Over 40% of
Heathrow’s power is used by third parties such as airline companies.
Using infrared to save energy
To obtain the required results, BAA has appointed an
“Energy Manager” at Heathrow airport. “My job is to see to it that by
2010 the energy consumption of BAA is drastically reduced.”, says Andy
Watson, Energy manager at Heathrow. “Instruments that will help us to
diminish our energy consumption are the FLIR Systems infrared cameras.
We have purchased 4 cameras.
One ThermaCAM™ P-series camera and three ThermaCAM E-series cameras. The cameras are easy-to-use and they have the
advantage that they clearly identify where there is a problem with a
“With the FLIR Systems infrared cameras we will
inspect all buildings at Heathrow. First of all to find badly insulated
areas, since preventing heat losses to the outside will help us to save
energy. But also to see where we have cold air coming into the
buildings. We are very much aware that we can not always put extra
insulation where necessary due to the structure of some buildings but we
will definitely give advise for the construction of new buildings to
avoid insulation problems. “
Dave Nelson, Sales Engineer FLIR Systems and Andy Watson, Energy Manager of Heathrow airport with a ThermaCAM E-series camera
Predictive maintenance helps to save energy
“The cameras will also extensively be used by our
maintenance engineers. They are of course very concerned that all
facilities are running at all times. Take just one example, the baggage
handling systems. If one of the conveyor belts is out of order, we need
to pay damages to the airline company that was supposed to be using this
“Each conveyor belt contains a motor, inverter
drive, gearbox and bearing. All these components will be thoroughly
inspected with the infrared camera. If a component is badly lubricated
this will clearly be seen with the infrared camera. Also electrical
overheating, which is caused by loose or corroded connections,
overcharging, will show up immediately.”
“Our maintenance engineers are looking for hot-spots so
that they can repair the system before it breaks down and really becomes
a problem. I, as an Energy Manager, look at it from another point of
“In an electrical system for example, a hot
connection is dissipating energy in heat. This is also true for conveyor
belts and other systems. Even worse, if installations are not working
properly, they will dissipate three times more heat as is needed to keep
the installation working. This means that by eliminating hot-spots, we
will not only be sure that our installations are working continuously
but we will also save a tremendous amount of energy.”
Visual and infrared image of the motor and the gearbox at Heathrows baggage handling system.
“We will start the infrared program shortly.
Therefore we will now send 10 people to the FLIR Systems Infrared
Training Center (ITC). There they will not only get some basic knowledge
about infrared and learn how to work with the camera, but even more
important, they will learn how to give the correct interpretation to the
infrared images so that they can avoid costly mistakes.”
Saving over 400,000 € with the help of infrared
“But the best thing is that the cameras already have
paid themselves back before we even started the infrared program.”,
continues Andy Watson. “ We have quite some underground pipelines, which
are transporting steam to heat up buildings. It was clear that there
was a leak in one of the pipes.
This pipe was located very close to Terminal 1,
under a very busy road. We saw steam coming out of 2 inspection pits in
the road so we knew that the leak was situated between these 2 pits.
Unfortunately they were lying more than 60 meters away from each other,
in a very busy road, and we could not see the exact location. I took out
the infrared camera and determinated the exact location of the leak
The leak in the pipeline can be clearly located thanks to infrared.
“Thanks to the FLIR Systems infrared camera, we now
only need to break the road open where the pipe is leaking and not over
the total 60 meters. We estimated that breaking open and repairing the
whole surface to locate and find the leak would have costed us more than
Without taking into account all traffic related
problems that would have been there if we had to break the entire road
open. Now the costs will be about 45,000€, 10 times less. The cameras
have paid themselves back before we really start putting them at work.”,
concludes Andy Watson.