All rotating machines vibrate. Simply put, vibration is a pulsating motion or back and forth movement of a machine or machine part from its original resting position. But knowing whether those vibration levels are normal or abnormal is vital to helping machinery reach its expected lifecycle.
Wireless Vibration Sensor Basics
A wireless vibration sensor measures vibration changes and detects rotating machine failures early to avoid breakdowns. Many maintenance leaders use vibration sensors as part of their overall condition monitoring program. That’s because some 90 percent of machine faults fall into one of four main categories:
- Bearing damage
The right kind of wireless vibration sensors can catch those common machine faults.
A wireless vibration sensor uses a network connection like WiFi, LTE, or ethernet, to continuously transmit measurements to software. For instance, a wireless sensor may send data to computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software where the data can be stored and analyzed.
Benefits of a Wireless Vibration Sensor:
- Wireless vibration sensors are more cost-effective and easy to install compared to wired sensors
- The remote condition monitoring data is accessible from almost anywhere
- Enables screening or data analysis depending on the sensor and software
- Collects and monitors data to catch faults early to avoid asset failure
How a Vibration Sensor Works
A wireless vibration monitoring sensor generates a vibration signal from the machine where it’s mounted, converts and processes it, and then sends the real-time data to a web application. That asset management software lets maintenance teams view and trend data, as well as perform data analysis.
With wireless vibration monitoring, the sensor tracks and records vibration level measurements used to determine the health of rotating machinery such as compressors and pumps (drive motors, driven devices) and belts, gears, shafts, bearings, and other components that make up a mechanical system.
If a wireless vibration sensor detects a change in vibration that exceeds predetermined threshold levels, an alert is triggered automatically and sent to a maintenance team member. Based on the asset criticality, meaning the impact on overall production and operations, a determination is made to immediately schedule a repair or replace the machinery.
The notification enables optimization of maintenance schedules and labor, ensures parts availability, and ultimately avoids asset failure.
Different Ways to Measure Vibration
Vibration can be measured in three different ways: displacement, velocity, and acceleration.
- Displacement is the distance an object moves from a reference point. It’s best for measuring low frequencies.
- Velocity is the changing rate of displacement over time and covers a wide range of frequencies. It is best at diagnosing fatigue forces that cause wear and failure.
- Acceleration is the changing rate of velocity over time. It’s best for measuring very high frequencies.
Accelerometers are one of the most common vibration sensors because they’re rugged, and it’s easy to convert the acceleration to velocity.
Why Vibration Sensors Are Important
Using wired and wireless sensors to measure vibration changes has become essential in industrial maintenance and reliability programs.
When a machine goes down unexpectedly, the costs can be high. For instance, a shaft imbalance can cause coupling damage and lead to an entire motor needing to be replaced.
Measuring Vibration to Catch Machine Faults Early:
- Lowers energy costs
- Reduces downtime and labor costs
- Decreases maintenance and replacement costs
- Increases safety
How to Set Up Vibration Sensors
Determining the proper vibration sensor setup, environmental conditions, and sensor location are critical to a properly functioning sensor. Depending on the type of mount, machine type, and software, some vibration sensors are easy to set up and can be used immediately once configured, commissioned, and installed. In contrast, others are more complex, so it’s often helpful to consult an expert.
How to Choose a Vibration Sensor
There are a number of different types of vibration sensors. Wireless vibration monitoring choices usually depend on an organization’s overall operational capacity. How critical a machine or component is to production and the application will help determine which wireless vibration sensor is needed.
For instance, a screening sensor, such as the Fluke 3562 Screening Vibration Sensor, is usually mounted on semi-critical and other essential machinery. It provides readings to indicate a problem exists and lets users know if the machine needs to be inspected or maintained.
An analysis vibration sensor is generally used on more critical assets. These sensors have accelerometers that help measure changes in amplitude and patterns seen in the data. A high-resolution sensor, such as the Fluke 3563 Analysis Vibration Sensor, is needed to provide the detail of the necessary data for analysis.
There are many designs, sizes, and ranges of sensors to choose from, making them highly flexible. Understanding the data characteristics you expect to measure, and any environmental constraints can help decide which one fits the intended use best.