Integrating vibration analysis devices with pumps, motors, compressors

An effective vibration measuring program can reduce downtime for manufacturers, but some tools are better situated for certain scenarios, and users should assess application needs and the situation.

By John Bernet November 24, 2021
Courtesy: Fluke Reliability

Every toolbox needs more than one tool, and an effective vibration measuring program needs more than one type of tool, as well. With a blend of remote monitoring and in-person evaluation, maintenance teams can move toward condition-based monitoring – where decisions and actions are based on asset health, rather than a calendar.

Abnormal vibration can shorten the life of equipment and components, lead to damage and downtime, and create safety issues. Vibration monitoring mainly focuses on rotating equipment found in industrial facilities. Monitoring equipment vibration from pumps, motors, and compressors gives teams the opportunity to identify vibration abnormalities early on.

Vibration analysis involves using an asset’s vibration data to discover issues before they lead to failure. The most common types of faults that can be identified using vibration data include imbalance, misalignment, looseness, and bearing damage. Vibration also can indicate pump cavitation.

With vibration monitoring, users can measure machine health and find potential faults without taking machines offline. This way, repairs can be prioritized and scheduled as needed. This has several benefits:

  • Ability to schedule repairs to fall during plant shutdowns
  • Ability to order necessary tools and parts ahead of time
  • Ability to plan worker schedules.

There are numerous types of vibration monitoring devices that work well with pumps, motors and compressors. Some vibration is normal and each piece of equipment has a unique vibration signal or signature. Vibration patterns and peaks, and the amplitude of vibration peaks, can help maintenance teams detect faults and determine fault severity.

An asset criticality assessment can help determine how specific machines should be monitored. For example, the most critical machines should be continuously monitored with a wired or wireless sensor. Others can be monitored using a handheld tool.

Four types of machine monitoring technologies

Manufacturers should know about different vibration monitoring technologies, how they are used, and related benefits. The goal is not to simply acquire the most, or the most detailed, data. The goal is to find the tool that provides the right data for each asset.

1. Handheld vibration tools

Handheld vibration tools, such as vibration meters and testers, are typically compact and easy to use. Many are designed to be used by people with a wide range of vibration experience, rather than being limited to vibration experts – they are designed to collect data and screen for potential problems. Handheld vibration tools can help teams make go or no-go decisions.

2. Wired vibration sensors

Wired sensors are high-performing tools, providing high-resolution data. Wired sensors can measure vibration data many times per second. Wired vibration sensors can perform continuous monitoring and analyze more than just routine faults. Don’t forget to consider mounting locations and cabling requirements.

3. Wireless vibration sensors

Wireless vibration sensors have become more accessible and affordable in large part because of advances in technology and connectivity. Battery technology has advanced as well, and there are even battery-less sensors – they draw on heat and light from their surroundings.

Energy management is a factor with or without batteries. Transmitting data requires energy, so it is important to manage the process to strike the right balance. How much data do you need to transmit and how frequently? Some wireless sensors can take full spectral data several times a day, but a certain amount of power is needed to get a fast Fourier transform (FFT) spectrum.

4. Vibration monitoring software

Vibration monitoring has been an established practice for decades, providing extensive vibration data to draw on and analyze. Vibration technology builds on established rules and patterns. For example, decades of vibration data have informed the algorithms programmed into analyzers to diagnose vibration problems.

Many vibration monitoring software solutions feature alerts and alarms teams receive when assets begin to experience vibration that falls outside of defined ranges. Dashboards and reports can help users track, trend and share data. Having real-time knowledge of asset health enables teams to focus their attention and resources.

When it comes to vibration analysis, the goal is to find the tool that provides the right data for each asset. Courtesy: Fluke Reliability

When it comes to vibration analysis, the goal is to find the tool that provides the right data for each asset. Courtesy: Fluke Reliability

Moving to condition monitoring

Condition monitoring helps teams move from a reactive maintenance strategy to a predictive maintenance strategy. Around-the-clock measurements give teams a clear picture of overall asset health and performance – without needing to be at each machine. Condition monitoring programs decrease maintenance costs, improve downtime response times, and reduce money spent on prematurely changed and replaced equipment and components.

Vibration monitoring devices, such as wireless vibration sensors, can be paired with analytical software to minimize unscheduled downtime and maintenance while maximizing asset availability.

John Bernet is a mechanical application and product specialist at Fluke Reliability. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology,


Keywords: condition monitoring, vibration analysis, vibration monitoring

Abnormal vibration can shorten the life of equipment and components and create safety issues.

There are many types of vibrating tools and some are better-suited for particular applications.

Vibration monitoring devices, such as wireless vibration sensors, can be paired with analytical software.


What is the biggest consideration you have when performing vibration analysis?

Original content can be found at Control Engineering.

Author Bio: As a mechanical application and product specialist at Fluke Corp., John Bernet works with customers from all industries successfully implement their reliability programs. He has more than 30 years of combined experience in the maintenance and operation of commercial machinery and as a nuclear power plant electrician in the U.S. Navy. He holds a Category II Vibration Analyst certification and is a Certified Maintenance Reliability Professional (CMRP). John served in the U.S. Navy as an electrician and has more than 20 years diagnosing machine faults.