Nieke Roos
1 May 2019

The Fluke II900 Sonic Industrial Imager offers maintenance teams a new way to locate leaks in compressed air, gas and vacuum systems. The newly introduced handheld device uses the sound analysis technology from Eindhoven-based Sorama to quickly and accurately pinpoint issues.

Fluke has introduced a new device that can pinpoint air, gas, steam and vacuum leaks in industrial installations using acoustic waves, even in noisy environments. Equipped with an array of microphones, the II900 Sonic Industrial Imager overlays a sound map on a visual image for quick and accurate leak location identification. The handheld device was jointly developed with Sorama, the Eindhoven University of Technology spin-off specializing in noise control and sound analysis solutions.

The average compressed air system loses 30 percent of its air through leaks. These leaks hit both production uptime and the operations bottom line. Locating them has always been a time-consuming and tedious process. The collaboration between Fluke and Sorama is an exclusive partnership to develop a new way to simplify and speed up the detection, based on the acoustics of the leaks: the sound that they produce is visualized in 3D using the TUE spin-off’s patented method.

In a matter of hours, maintenance technicians can inspect an entire plant – even during peak operations.

Augmented reality

The Fluke II900 Sonic Industrial Imager contains 64 digital MEMS microphones. These pick up acoustic signals in the frequency range from 2 to 52 kHz, from a distance of 0.5 meters to more than 50 meters. The source’s location is determined by discerning the direction from which the sound originates by the time delays that occur as it passes over the microphone array.

Leaks are visualized as sound maps, which display the sources as shapes in different colors that reflect the sound pressure level. The handheld device’s 7” capacitive LCD touchscreen overlays the maps on the footage of the onboard optical camera. This creates a 12.5 frame-per-second live video feed showing the leaks in augmented reality.

With the full array of microphones, it’s easy to scan a large area and even capture issues from a distance. The imager is able to pinpoint leaks as small as 2.5 cm3 per second at 7 bar from up to 10 meters.

Minimal training

Until now, the technique to make sounds visible has been expensive to implement or complicated to use. It has also been mainly targeted at high-end R&D and consulting services. Fluke worked with Sorama to bring acoustic imaging to the maintenance technician with a tool that has the durability and usability required for industrial maintenance applications.

Leaks are visualized as sound maps, which display the sources as shapes in different colors that reflect the sound pressure level.

The tool’s straightforward interface allows technicians to isolate the sound frequency of the leak to filter out loud background noise. With minimal training, the team can inspect the entire plant in a matter of hours – even during peak operations. They can quickly and easily identify the air leak repairs needed to ensure efficient operations and reduce utility bills. Images can be saved and exported for reporting purposes.

“The extensive partnership enables new applications in maintenance for our acoustic imaging solutions, in addition to the ever-growing impact for customers in the fields of low-noise product design and smart environments,” says Sorama CEO and founder Rick Scholte. Fluke, in turn, is continuously looking for collaborations with innovative companies to address the pain points of its customers, adds its Eindhoven engineering manager, Henk Koppelmans. “The partnership with Sorama is a good example of deploying a disruptive technology to scalable innovation.”