Vibration monitoring is the practice of monitoring the vibration level of machines and serves as one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent equipment failure or downtime. Monitoring and analyzing vibration data is ideal for discovering most faults, including imbalance, misalignment, looseness, and late-stage bearing wear, providing test personnel with a warning of impending failures.

What is Vibration Monitoring?

Put simply, vibration monitoring is a maintenance technique using handheld vibration analyzers or vibration sensors and software to identify frequency peaks and valleys in machine components. Vibration measurements often reveal the four most common machine faults.

You can track the severity of these four common faults over time with a vibration monitoring system. Severity codes are based on data taken and analyzed from hundreds of thousands of machines by vibration experts for decades. To that end, professional knowledge and experience are incorporated into rule-based algorithms and a baseline database.

This proven process is effective on standard rotating machines, such as motors, pumps, fans, compressors, blowers, and single-shaft spindles.

Vibration sensor mounted on a machine.
Credit: Getty Images

How Does Vibration Monitoring Work?

Performing vibration analysis is complex. Handheld vibration monitoring equipment like meters or testers are often used for scheduled routes. More complex assets often require handheld vibration analyzers with onboard software.

Vibration monitoring can also be performed with wireless condition monitoring sensors as a cost-effective, scalable way to extend coverage. For instance, assets in difficult-to-reach or hazardous locations are ideal for remote condition monitoring. Lastly, vibration monitoring is not an alternative to diagnosing. It’s merely a way to identify that a problem exists and needs diagnosis.

Graph displaying the components of a tiered maintenance strategy.
The components of a tiered maintenance strategy

What is the Goal of Vibration and Condition Monitoring?

Above all, the goal of vibration monitoring is to identify machine problems. However, the benefits of a predictive maintenance program go well beyond the asset lifecycle. For instance, predictive maintenance allows your teams to:

A wireless vibration sensor collecting data from a motor.
A wireless vibration sensor collects data from a motor.
  • Collect and analyze cloud-based vibration data
  • Find and correct failures, earlier
  • Avoid unexpected downtime
  • Collect historical data to justify maintenance spend
  • Democratize vibration expertise for nonexperts, providing easy-to-interpret data

Vibration monitoring can increase reliability and improve visibility between teams. The right tool for the job will depend on the specific asset and facility. Complex machines may need a vibration analyzer like the VibXpert II, whereas improving an overall predictive maintenance program may be best achieved using the Fluke 3563 Vibration Analysis Sensor.

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