Vibration analysis is a key part of any condition monitoring or predictive maintenance program. The right vibration analyzer can help your team identify diagnose machine faults early, when they are still easy to resolve. The result is increased productivity, greater uptime, and reduced maintenance costs.

Just about any operation stands to benefit from a strong vibration analysis strategy. We’ll talk about what exactly vibration analyzers can do, and what to look for in a vibration analyzer. We’ll also look at how you can implement a successful vibration analysis strategy, even if you are working with a small team or a limited budget.

A portable vibration tester is a vibration measurement tool that can analyze and diagnose machine faults

What are Vibration Analyzers?

Technicians use vibration analyzers to measure, store, and analyze the vibrations produced by industrial equipment or installations.

Rotating machines – like compressors, pumps, and fans – all vibrate while in operation. Every machine produces its own, baseline level of vibration, or vibration “signature.”

Changes in vibration levels or vibration frequency can mean that your asset is developing a new defect. Over time, excessive vibration can damage machinery and create dangerous conditions on your floor. But changes in vibration patterns can also indicate underlying issues like misalignment, imbalance, and bearing faults.

Vibration analyzers measure changes in vibration frequency, displacement, and acceleration. They store vibration data so that you can easily spot patterns and changes over time.

Some vibration analyzers can also use vibration data to diagnose problems in the field. In many cases, good analyzers can also guide technicians through the process of the machine fault.

How Do Vibration Analyzers Work?

Vibration analyzers are complex tools. They’re both measuring and analysis tools, allowing them to both gather data and analyze it.

Data Collection

Vibration analyzers use a built-in piezoelectric accelerometer to measure vibration levels on industrial equipment, in buildings, on bridges, or on other installations.

The accelerometer captures vibration data and converts into an electrical signal. Depending on the tool, it may record that data as a time waveform or an FFT. You’ll see the data displayed on the vibration analyzer’s screen.

Depending on the tool, it may also make the data available remotely, so that your teams can access it on their smartphones or tablets when they’re off-site.

Data Analysis

Modern vibration analyzers don’t just collect and organize data, though. They take the data and analyze it on-screen, so that technicians can see exactly where the problem is and how to fix it.

In some cases, the tools color-code the key data and create a step-by-step guide to correcting machine faults.

For example, if a particular asset is unbalanced, a high-quality vibration analyzer can provide detailed instructions on fixing the imbalance. Once the repair is done, the tool can also check the new measurements to verify that the technician has, in fact, repaired the problem correctly.

vibration sensors monitor a variety of assets

Why Are Vibration Analyzers Important?

Many operations today are working with a limited maintenance force. At the same time, the typical plant is trying to follow a tight production schedule, with no room for downtime or drops in productivity.

Vibration analyzers can make sure that your assets stay up and running for as long as possible. By catching machine faults early, they ensure that you avoid unnecessary downtime. You also avoid excess energy consumption and slowdowns that come from unbalanced or misaligned equipment.

The earlier you identify defects, the easier it is to schedule repairs at convenient times. And of course, the sooner you address machine problems, the lower your repair costs will be.

Many plants today don’t have a deep bench of maintenance experts. It’s a good idea to look for tools that can provide guidance and even help train newer employees.

What to Look for in a Vibration Analyzer

The best vibration analyzers are accurate, precise, and easy to use.

Tools like the VibXpert II are intuitive and user-friendly. Even employees with very little technical knowledge can use it right out of the box.

The tool is thorough and leaves nothing up to guesswork. It measures vibration levels in 3 axes – horizontal, vertical, and axial, taking the operator through the steps needed to measure correctly.

If the asset is vibrating excessively, the VibXpert II displays an alert, explaining exactly where the problem lies.

Then, the tool’s display walks the user through a step-by-step process to fix the problem. Once the technicians has corrected the imbalance, or the misalignment, VibXpert II can check again to make sure that the issue is totally resolved.

The result? Potential problems get nipped in the bud, all without bringing your operation to a grinding halt.

Working with the Vibration Experts

Implementing a vibration analysis strategy can be overwhelming. If you’re already overstretched, or if you have a limited workforce, it can be hard to know where to start.

The Fluke 3563 Analysis Vibration Sensor system offers ongoing support to teams as they shift to a vibration analysis and condition monitoring approach.

Fluke Reliability’s team of experts is also available to help any operation set up and maintain a vibration monitoring program. Whether you’d like one-time support or long-term monitoring assistance, the experts can provide exactly the level of support that’s right for you.

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