Accelerometer vibration sensors come in a variety of types, like piezo vibration sensors.

Maintenance teams use many types of vibration sensors for condition monitoring. Some vibration sensors enable complex machine vibration analysis and fault diagnosis, while others simply screen equipment for a basic good/bad picture of machine health.

All machine components generate distinct vibration signals. A vibration sensor works by measuring those distinct signals at the location they’re attached to a machine. The vibration sensor detects, converts, and processes the vibration signals, transmitting the real-time vibration measurements to software. Then, maintenance professionals can use those vibration measurements for data analysis to determine the machine’s health.

Some maintenance teams use vibration sensors on problematic machines. Others use vibration sensors on machinery critical to production. And increasingly, vibration sensors are being installed semi-critical machines. The end goal is to catch faults early and save money on maintenance costs, labor, and downtime.

Why are Vibration Sensors Important?

Vibration can prematurely wear machine components, reduce equipment lifespan, and cause safety concerns. Catching faults early with vibration analysis lets maintenance teams avoid a potential machine failure. The four most common machine faults are: misalignment, imbalance, bearing damage, and looseness.

Vibration sensors are an essential part of a predictive maintenance program. Teams using a predictive maintenance strategy track and trend vibration sensor measurement data as leading indicators of an impending machine failure. If you can detect problems early, you can minimize expensive production interruptions and downtime.

It also reduces the time technicians usually spend on route-based inspections, letting them focus their time on higher priorities.

What do Vibration Sensors Measure?

Vibration sensors measure displacement, velocity, and acceleration. Determining which vibration sensor is best to use depends on many factors, including the sensor’s sensitivity range and frequency range.

Let’s dig into some basic vibration sensor definitions before we get further:

  • Displacement: the amplitude (distance) between peaks of vibration
  • Velocity: speed, in this place, the change in displacement across time
  • Acceleration: A change in velocity, and by what rate
  • Frequency: Number of times in one second that the vibration occurs in the repetitive motion; the higher revolutions per minute (RPM) of a machine, the higher the frequency
  • Sensitivity: Accuracy of the vibration sensor; converted vibration and voltage for referencing frequency
  • Severity: The level of impact the abnormal vibration (and its causing issue) has on assets

Most vibration measurements come in complex forms. That’s why having vibration sensors capable of highly accurate measurements is key — there’s a lot of vibration and motion to read and decipher.

When a vibration sensor detects a change, software automatically sends maintenance teams an alert. The alarm lets them know that a preset threshold level has been breached. Then, work requests can be triggered using a Computerized Maintenance Management System, or CMMS software.

Using stored data, including previous equipment repairs, maintenance professionals can make data-based decision about next steps. The severity of the fault and asset criticality determines whether your team should act immediately or plan a scheduled repair in the future.

Why are Vibration Sensors Used?

There are several different types of vibration sensors to choose from. For real-time monitoring that simply detects whether a machine’s condition is good or bad, a screening vibration sensor may be the best choice. These sensors, like the Fluke 3562 Screening Vibration Sensor, are typically mounted on semi-critical and standard machinery.

A vibration analysis sensor takes things one step further. In contrast to a screening vibration sensor, a vibration analysis sensors lets maintenance teams isolate a machine fault and analyze the data.

These vibration sensors are usually mounted on more critical assets. They have high-resolution accelerometers that measure vibration changes in amplitude and data patterns. To get meaningful insights from a vibration analysis program, you’ll need to have a high level of detail captured from your device. That’s why Fluke Reliability developed the Fluke 3563 Analysis Vibration Sensor, a piezo sensor that provides highly accurate data.

When combined together, screening vibration sensors and vibration analysis sensors can cover a wide-range of machines in different environments.

What is the Difference Between Accelerometers and Vibration Sensors?

There is no difference between an accelerometer and a vibration sensor. A vibration sensor is simply a type of accelerometer. The most common variety of vibration sensor is a piezoelectric accelerometer, also called a piezo sensor, which produces a robust and clear signal at most vibration frequencies.

These kinds of accelerometers are made up of a piezoelectric crystal that reacts to mechanical vibrations. The crystal actually converts a machine’s mechanical movement into an electrical signal. Then, the signal is amplified and transmitted from the piezo sensor to software via a cable or wirelessly.

Monitoring and Detecting Abnormal Vibration Measurements

To learn more about deploying vibration sensors in your maintenance operation, speak with one of our vibration specialists.

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