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What are some industry use cases for vibration analysis?

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Amongst the tools in the predictive maintenance (PdM) toolkit, vibration analysis sees tons of use because of its extremely wide variety of applications. Vibration data can be used to schedule maintenance prior to failures and diagnose overall asset health.

Diagnose rotating equipment

Any piece of equipment that rotates, be it a rotor or your car’s tires, rotate at a specific vibration frequency. As the equipment begins to unbalance, this vibration frequency changes, albeit in small ways, until it’s completely unbalanced. At this point, the vibrations become obvious – we can feel them in our steering wheel when our tires are out of balance.

With vibration analysis and PdM, technicians can begin to understand balance issues prior to end stage problems by looking at the small changes in vibration frequency over time. The appearance of changes can help us predict when we should perform maintenance.

Check operation of bearings and gears

Vibration analysis is useful for rotating equipment as well as small pieces of larger equipment like roller bearings and gears. Changes in the vibration frequencies of these parts can indicate a failure when otherwise those failures wouldn’t be understood until the entire asset failed.

Even in a non-rotating piece of equipment, vibration analysis can detect the changes in overall vibration frequency that comes from these failing bearings or gears. This makes vibration analysis’ range of applications potentially limitless.

Testing electric motors

Even motors can be tested with vibration analysis because they use bearings and rotors. What makes vibration analysis useful here is that it can detect a failure that would occur for reasons that aren’t necessarily standard to electric motors.

For example, if a motor fails over and over but the electrical components look fine, a maintenance team might be stumped to find the root cause. Using vibration analysis, though, it’s possible to understand exactly why the motor is failing despite being electrically sound.