Among the tools in a predictive maintenance (PdM) toolkit, vibration analysis sees tons of use because of its extremely wide variety of applications. Vibration data can be used to schedule maintenance prior to failures and diagnose overall asset health.
Diagnose rotating equipment
Any piece of equipment that rotates, be it a rotor or your car's tires, rotate at a specific vibration frequency. As the equipment begins to unbalance, this vibration frequency changes, albeit in small ways, until it's completely unbalanced. At this point, the vibrations become obvious - we can feel them in our steering wheel when our tires are out of balance.
With vibration analysis and PdM, technicians can begin to understand balance issues prior to end stage problems by looking at the small changes in vibration frequency over time. The appearance of changes can help us predict when we should perform maintenance.
Check operation of bearings and gears
Vibration analysis is useful for rotating equipment as well as small pieces of larger equipment like roller bearings and gears. Changes in the vibration frequencies of these parts can indicate a failure when otherwise those failures wouldn't be understood until the entire asset failed.
Even in a non-rotating piece of equipment, vibration analysis can detect the changes in overall vibration frequency that comes from these failing bearings or gears. This makes vibration analysis' range of applications potentially limitless.
Testing electric motors
Even motors can be tested with vibration analysis because they use bearings and rotors. What makes vibration analysis useful here is that it can detect a failure that would occur for reasons that aren't necessarily standard to electric motors.
For example, if a motor fails over and over but the electrical components look fine, a maintenance team might be stumped to find the root cause. Using vibration analysis, though, it's possible to understand exactly why the motor is failing despite being electrically sound.
What are common use cases for using a vibration sensor in predictive maintenance?
Vibration sensors trigger alerts in a CMMS system when a wide variety of conditions occur including improper calibration of a motor, excessive vibration of a piece of equipment, or too much movement of system fans. Vibration often signals a potential problem within manufacturing and production facilities that can result in future breakdowns or shorter equipment lifespans.
Vibration Sensors Use Cases
These easy-to-use sensors can play a significant role in your preventive maintenance program. Consider these real-life examples of how vibration sensors can be your constant set of eyes in your facility.
Water pump monitoring
Vibration sensors can be placed on condensers or water pumps to monitor for excessive motion on fans, bearings, and motors. Within the water and wastewater industry in particular, pump problems can prevent customers from accessing clean water. Add that to the financial implications of pump downtime, and you have a serious case for using vibration sensors to help.
Motors, gearboxes, chillers, and belts
If you’re running equipment that functions with motors, gearboxes, and conveyor belts, you may benefit from using vibration sensors within the system. For example, when the food and beverage industry experiences problems within these systems, there can be a significant ripple effect throughout the supply chain. Data from vibration sensors can be analyzed over time to support excellent preventive maintenance systems.
Fan and compressor monitoring
Fans play a big role in industrial equipment as well as manufacturing clean rooms. HVAC systems also require working fans and compressors to stay up and running efficiently. Vibration sensors can monitor a myriad of assets, sending notifications when out-of-range occurrences are detected.
Rotor speed of wind turbines typically fall between 5 rpm and 30 rpm. Vibration sensors work well in this industry because they can easily measure frequencies of both gear mesh and bearing defects. Once this data is returned to a main collection point, technicians can make scheduling and repair decisions.
These contact bearings are part of nearly every piece of rotating equipment. This machinery depends upon specific bearings as well as precision functioning of spacers, housing, shafts, and nuts. Although bearing fatigue used to be the measure of failure, recent studies have found that less than 3 percent of failures can be attributed to fatigue. More commonly, bearings are contaminated, lubricated poorly, or misaligned, all of which cause vibration. Sensors, then, can provide the necessarily red flag for preventive maintenance managers.