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Seeing ‘InfraRed Hi-tech Solutions to Maintenance Problems

Building maintenance is not a sexy topic but the federal government has a lot of buildings and maintaining them is very expensive. The National Tech Training Center competition, held by the Postal Service, may yield substantial savings as the agency looks for ways to find building problems. The winner of the the receng competition is a building equipment mechanic and is now known as the National Predictive Maintenance Challenge Infrared Thermography Champion.

Michael Van Hoover doesn’t have x-ray vision but his infrared skills would make the Man of Steel proud.

Van Hoover placed first during a Postal Service National Technical Training Center competition in Norman, OK. In addition to his job title — Building Equipment Mechanic — the Louisville employee is now known as the National Predictive Maintenance Challenge Infrared Thermography Champion.

Van Hoover was one of 10 contestants selected to compete. Their selection was based on test scores from a nationally available on-line test in December.

During the competition, participants were given 15 minutes to complete each of ten tasks using infrared cameras. Some of the tasks included finding an electrical short and a vehicle parasitic current drain. They also conducted mock building scans in search of deficiencies in insulation and air infiltration.

“It was a good learning experience,” said Van Hoover. “I also met with vendors of two cameras the Postal Service uses. They went over software and showed us some new features with the equipment.

“This is something that’s just really clicked with me,” he said. “A couple of the stations were a little bit easier. However, for the most part we were all pressed for time to finish.”

Van Hoover won an infrared camera for his worksite and every participant received a laptop for their respective worksites.

Other contestants: Duluth, MN, Electronic Technician Patrick Gjerdahl; Denver Electronic Technician Andrew Daubenspeck; Gaithersburg, MD, Maintenance Mechanic MPE Michael Morgan; South Hackensack, NJ, Maintenance Mechanics David Neff and John Horner; New York Electronic Technician Timothy Vogel; San Francisco Electronic Technician Steven Gerlick; Kansas City Building Equipment Mechanic Al Tomlinson; and Jackson, MI, Electronic Technician Paul Yarbrough.

About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

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