Vibration screening is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent equipment failure or downtime. It can screen most faults including imbalance, misalignment, looseness and late-stage bearing wear, providing precipitous warning of impending failure.

The severity of these four, most-common faults can be tracked over time based on the history from hundreds of thousands of machines that have been analyzed by vibration experts for decades. This knowledge and experience has been incorporated into rule-based algorithms and a baseline database that have been proven effective on standard rotating machines such as motors, pumps, fans, compressors, blowers and single-shaft spindles.

However, performing vibration analysis can be complex. Handheld vibration meters are often used for scheduled routes, and vibration tester typically require special training, third-party experts or may be too expensive to use on most assets.

A more flexible condition monitoring method is vibration screening (see Figure 1) with continuous remote, wireless sensors. Vibration screening with remote sensors is a cost-effective, scalable way to extend coverage, particularly for assets in difficult-to-reach or hazardous locations. Vibration screening is not an alternative to diagnosing; it is a way to identify that a problem exists that needs diagnosis.

vibration monitoring

Figure 1. The components of a tiered maintenance strategy

Reliability engineers, maintenance managers and maintenance technicians can now use vibration sensors to preserve asset health. Installing a vibration sensor on an asset allows you to spend less time taking manual measurements and more time addressing problems that could lead to downtime or equipment failure.

The identification of machine problems resulting from imbalance, looseness, misalignment and late-stage bearing wear through vibration monitoring benefits a predictive maintenance program by empowering teams to:

  • Collect and analyze cloud-based vibration data
  • Find and correct failures at an earlier stage
  • Avoid unexpected downtime
  • Collect historical data to justify maintenance spend
  • Democratize vibration expertise for nonexperts, providing easy-to-interpret data

Vibration sensor technology can provide reliability and maintenance teams with actionable data that can help determine when further analysis is required to decide when intervention — such as relubrication, repairs or replacements — should occur.

By John Bernet, product application specialist, Fluke