What is Vibration Testing?

Vibration Testing is the process of collecting data on the vibration levels and frequencies detected from equipment and then using that data to analyse how healthy a machine and its components are.  Vibration Testing can help in detecting issues such as imbalance, bearing failures, misalignment, electrical motor faults, gearbox failures, empty space or cavitation in pumps and critical speeds.

Vibration Testing is primarily used for maintenance planning and predictive maintenance scheduling. Maintenance professionals can measure vibration data against known failure vibrations, thus helping to proactively identify possible failure points and address performance issues before a machine breaks while on the job. 

Why is Vibration Testing Important?

Vibration Testing proves useful in maintenance planning as it provides maintenance professionals with the opportunity to:

Cost Advantages of Vibration Testing

Unscheduled downtime can be very costly. Vibration Testing helps organisations in conducting condition monitoring which ultimately leads to savings by:

Vibration Testing Steps & Analysis

  1. Determine the Vibration Spectrum – Use a Vibration Meter to collect information on vibrations detected from equipment. Use this data to produce a model that demonstrates expected vibration behaviour
  2. Establish a Baseline – Establish baseline data for use in your predictive maintenance program. There are normal vibration levels and acceptable variations that do not necessarily indicate that a failure is possible. Establishing baseline data will set parameters around what performance is adequate, thus making abnormalities clearer
  3. Generate Signal Models – Vibration data may be collected using frequency, amplitude, etc. This data must then be translated and digitally reconstructed into a model that you can use for analysis. The result is usually a waveform diagram which measures oscillation amplitude over time
  4. Analyse Your Data – Review the harmonics of your vibration data paying careful attention to synchronous peaks in your vibration data that should repeat. These peaks correlate the frequency peak with the physical characteristics of the system, typically signifying a motor rotation or pumping cycle. Spikes in frequencies are normal, but unusually high peaks or peaks at an unexpected time need to be monitored.

Vibration Testing Equipment

Vibration Testing tools pick up vibrations created by equipment and measures their frequency (time between vibration pulses). These tools can also measure how hard each vibration occurs. These measurements can then be compared with known problems and past equipment history. Increasing vibrations or how hard the vibrations are can help in identifying potential issues.

Vibration Testing tools have developed over time from large bulky devices to lightweight handheld devices and continuous monitoring instruments. In general, there are two types of devices that perform Vibration Testing:

  1. Portable devices – The strong magnet or wired connection is often used for portable collection devices. This allows the technician to measure many points with one machine and sensor. Portable devices usually cost less than fixed devices and allow the technician to make visual observations of an asset’s condition during collection.
  2. Fixed devices – Fixed devices can be installed in areas where it may be challenging or dangerous for an individual to routinely reach the measurement points. An advantage of using a fixed vibration device is that when continuous data is required to provide a quick response to a critical piece of equipment it is readily available.

Vibration Testing, properly done, allows maintenance professionals to evaluate the condition of their equipment, minimize unplanned downtime by carrying out required repairs during scheduled maintenance shutdowns and ultimately avoid failures. 

We provide mechanical troubleshooting teams and maintenance professionals with a range of reliable Vibration Testing equipment, including the Fluke 805 Vibration Meter,  to enable you to confidently make maintenance decisions. If you have a requirement for repeatable, rigorous readings of overall vibration and bearing conditions see our full range of vibration meters at https://datacentresafety.com/product-category/electrical-test-monitoring-equipment/test-measurement-instruments/. Alternatively, call us on 057 866 2162. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have.