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FFT Vibration Spectrum Analysis for Manufacturing Quality and

Maintenance
Speaker/Author: J. Lyle Bagley, Bauer Compressors, Inc.
1328 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk, VA 23502-1944.
(757) 857-8744, Fax (757) 855-3761, lyle.bagley@bauercomp.com
Abstract
During your annual physical exam, the doctor performs tests to reveal hidden anomalies that
could cause health problems later. When you already have symptoms, he performs diagnostic
tests to determine their cause. In both cases, he likely uses a stethoscope to monitor your heart
and respiration rather than pressing his ear to your chest. The same should be true for complex
industrial systems whether automobiles or high-pressure, multi-stage compressors. Fast Fourier
transform vibration spectrum analysis (FFT VSA) can be the stethoscope of the quality engineer
to ensure that a manufacturing system is in control and to locate the cause of problems in a
particular system. This paper describes evolving FFT VSA methodology for manufacturing
quality, predictive and diagnostic maintenance developed at Bauer Compressors, Inc. in Norfolk,
VA by the companys accredited Calibration Laboratory. Bauer is a global manufacturing
company headquartered in Munich, with facilities in Europe, Asia, the United States, and the
Middle East. The FFT VSA principles, while applied to large, complex compressor systems, are
applicable to anything that shakes. Like any other significant industrial process, measurement is
at the heart of it, demonstrating once again the impact of metrology on global trade.
Learning Objectives
After reading this paper and participating in the associated presentation, the session attendee will
have gained knowledge of the following subjects:
1.
some fundamentals of vibration measurement and analysis
2.
application of vibration analysis to predictive and diagnostic maintenance of complex
mechanical systems
3.
basic concepts of Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) technology
4.
some analytical and interpretive techniques used to identify problems and locate their
causes
5.
evaluation of the quality of manufactured items using Statistical Process Control (SPC),
FFT graphical techniques, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), and control charts
6.
some challenges and pitfalls in FFT for vibration measurement and analysis
1.

Introduction: Whats it all about? A global view

When we buy a product, we want it to work as expected, reliably, for a long time, and with the
exception of audio equipment, wed like for it to be as quiet as possible. In most cases, wed
also like for it to vibrate as little as possible since intense vibration may cause deterioration, and
we certainly need to measure the amount of vibration in order to improve it.
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The need for vibration measurement raises several questions about the product:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What do we mean by vibration, anyway?


How much vibration is normal in our product?
What kind of vibration is normal?
What parts of the product are vibrating?
What do the vibration measurements mean about the products condition and
reliability?
6. How can we make our product better?
Getting answers to these and many related questions are what this paper is all about. First, lets
address some basics.
2.

Vibration Defined

Merriam Webster Online defines vibration as oscillation and a periodic motion of the
particles of an elastic body or medium in alternately opposite directions from the position of
equilibrium [1]. We know, of course, that the oscillation may be very simple in the form of a
sine wave such as a guitar string, or a complex waveform consisting of many different
frequencies and different rates of damping like the sound of a chair being dragged across the
floor. Most industrial vibrations of interest are complex and consist of many variables, such as
the vibration found in a large, multi-stage compressor with a variety of vibration frequencies and
amplitudes. Compressors contain pistons, valves, prime movers [motors or engines], filters,
gages, servo systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), tubing, and a multitude of
framework and fasteners. These components all vibrate at resonant frequencies, high frequencies
associated with high-speed air movements, beat frequencies, sums, differences, and harmonics
[2]. There are several different parameters of vibration from which to choose, such as
displacement, velocity, and acceleration. We might even be interested in damping the vibration,
which tends to resist and dissipate the vibration [3]. But this study is more concerned with steady
state, forced vibration found in large, dynamic systems.
3.

Vibration Measurement

How is vibration measured? One method is the tympanic nerve and eardrumjust listen and
guess how much the subject of interest is shaking. A more dependable instrument, however, is
an accelerometer, which converts mechanical vibration into an electrical signal. The
accelerometer output can be displayed in at least two domainstime and frequency [4]. In the
time domain, an oscilloscope can be used to examine the waveform of the vibration, which might
be a simple sine wave or a complex waveform comprising many waves. Two sine waves of
different amplitudes, frequencies, and phase are shown in Figure 1. The first has a peak
amplitude of 1.0, the second a peak amplitude of 0.5. Units are omitted.

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Figure1. Sine waves 1 and 2


sin(wt)

0.5 sin(p+2wt)

1.5

Amplitude

1.0
0.5
0.0
-0.5
-1.0

1.92

1.82

1.72

1.62

1.52

1.42

1.32

1.22

1.12

1.02

0.92

0.82

0.72

0.62

0.52

0.42

0.32

0.22

0.12

0.02

-1.5
Time (seconds)

The two sine waves can be combined to form a resultant waveform as shown in Figure 2, below.
Figure 2. The sum of sine waves 1 and 2
Y = sin(wt) + 0.5 sin(p+2wt)
1.5

Amplitude

1.0
0.5
0.0
-0.5
-1.0

1.92

1.82

1.72

1.62

1.52

1.42

1.32

1.22

1.12

1.02

0.92

0.82

0.72

0.62

0.52

0.42

0.32

0.22

0.12

-2.0

0.02

-1.5

Time (seconds)
We can use a vibration spectrum analyzer to observe the accelerometer output in the frequency
domain in terms of the amplitude at each frequency. This method of depiction, shown in Figure
3, plots amplitude vs. frequency, and is sometimes called a Fast Fourier Transform of the
waveform [5].
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Figure 3. FFT plot of the sum of sine waves 1 and 2


Amplitude vs. Frequency

1
0.8
0.6
0.4

45.3

47.5

1.82

1.92

49.8

43

1.72

40.8

38.5

36.3

34

31.8

29.5

27.3

25

22.8

20.5

18.3

16

13.8

11.5

9.25

4.75

2.5

0.2
0.25

Waveform Amplitude

1.2

Frequency

Another two signals, call them sine waves 3 and 4, are shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Sine waves 3 and 4
sin(p3 + 3.7wt)

0.5 sin(p4 + 5.1wt)

1.5

Amplitude

1.0
0.5
0.0
-0.5
-1.0

1.62

1.52

1.42

1.32

1.22

1.12

1.02

0.92

0.82

0.72

0.62

0.52

0.42

0.32

0.22

0.12

0.02

-1.5
Time (seconds)

If we add sine waves 3 and 4 two the first two sine waves, the waveform becomes more complex
as shown in Figure 5.

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Figure 5. The sum of sine waves 1, 2, 3, & 4


Y14 = sin(wt) + 0.5 sin(p+2wt) + sin(p3+3.7wt) + 0.5 sin(p4+5.1wt)

3.0

Amplitude

2.0
1.0
0.0
-1.0

1.92

1.82

1.72

1.62

1.52

1.42

1.32

1.22

1.12

1.02

0.92

0.82

0.72

0.62

0.52

0.42

0.32

0.22

0.12

-3.0

0.02

-2.0

Time (seconds)
The FFT of this waveform, consisting of 4 discrete frequencies is shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6. FFT plot of the sum of sine waves 1, 2, 3, & 4
Amplitude vs. Frequency

1
0.8
0.6
0.4

49.8

47.5

45.3

43

40.8

38.5

36.3

34

31.8

29.5

27.3

25

22.8

20.5

18.3

16

13.8

11.5

9.25

4.75

2.5

0.2
0.25

Waveform Amplitude

1.2

Frequency

Notice there are four frequencies, 6.3 hz, 12.6 hz, 23.3 hz, and 32 hz, respectively. In this
example, the first and third sine waves have amplitudes of 1, and the second and fourth have
amplitudes of 0.5. The FFT separates the waveform into its component frequencies and depicts
their relative amplitudes, in terms of whatever units are desirable.

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In a more complex vibrating system, such as a five-stage compressor, the waveforms and the
FFTs become much more complex. We develop two sets of data for every compressor analyzed
comprising about 20 test points (TP) in two frequency ranges:
Low Frequency, 1 to 400 hz
High Frequency, 6.25 to 20,000 hz
Data are taken using a DataStick Systems, Inc. Vibration Spectrum Analyzer Model VSA 1215
with a DataStick Accelerometer Model DS 140-1A or other sensor. We selected this system for
its versatility, simplicity, and affordable cost. A FFT of low frequency data taken with the VSA
1215 for one of our five-stage Unicus systems is shown in Figure 7. The largest velocity peak
appears at 23 hz and has an amplitude of 6 m/s (0.24 milli-inches/sec on the chart).
Figure 7. TP3 Unicus low frequency (LF) velocity

Velocity, Milli-in/sec rms

0.3
0.25
0.2
0.15
0.1
0.05
0
1

22

44 65 86 107 129 150 171 192 214 235 256 277 299 320 341 362 384

Frequency, Hz

The piezoelectric accelerometer is energized with a 24 VDC bias at about 10 mA, set for 1 hz
lower frequency and 400 hz upper frequency, with 1600 lines of resolution between [in
increments of 0.25 hz] with a rectangular [uniform] window. The compressor operating
frequency was 22.3 hz and the motor that drove it operated at 59.2 hz. Some harmonics of the
compressor frequency appear in the plot, as well as other frequency data for valves, bearings,
tension pullies [sheaves], resonance, sums and differences of frequencies forming ghost
frequencies [6].
As expected, the higher frequency data FFT shown in Figure 8, looks entirely different. Note
that the greater levels of vibration occur at the lower frequencies. Leaks prevalently appear at
higher frequencies, often in the 5 to 7 khz and the 16 to 18 khz ranges. The largest peak in Figure
8 appears at about 1650 hz and has an amplitude slightly greater than 0.5 cm/s2 (0.5 milli-g in
the chart.)
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Figure 8. TP3 Unicus high frequency (HF) acceleration

Acceleration, Milli-g rms

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0
6

1600 3194 4788 6381 7975 9569 11163 12756 14350 15944 17538 19131

Frequency, Hz

Figures 7 and 8 are typical representations of the vibration at stage 3 of multi-stage, high
pressure compressors produced by Bauer. There will be more exploration of such charts later in
this paper.
4.

The Need for Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)

4.1
Project Goals
To remain competitive in todays economy, the quality and reliability of manufactured products
must improve continuously. Product reliability can be enhanced by identifying and correcting
anomalies before they leave the manufacturing plant. The specific CPI goals of this project
were:
QUALITY CHECK: to ensure that manufacturing processes are in control and stable
SERVICE: to provide a diagnostic tool for trouble-shooting and predictive maintenance
ADDED VALUE: to add value to current product lines with optimized reliability
EXPANSION OF PRODUCT LINES: to explore the addition of vibration sensors to
current products
4.2
Predictive Maintenance
During the evolution of modern manufacturing technology, there have been at least three
maintenance philosophies, and arguably more:
Run to Failure [very expensive and often catastrophically time consuming!]

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Preventive Maintenance [a major improvement, but occasionally wasteful]


Predictive Maintenance [evolving, ultimately saves time and money]
Uses FMEA, LEAN, SPC, and FFT analysis
Reduces maintenance costs
Optimizes reliability
Enhances customer satisfaction
Increases profit
Predictive maintenance embraces all four project goals and can assess when specific
maintenance is essential and when it can be delayed. It can also identify invisible, potential
failures before they leave the manufacturer, reducing expensive recalls, repair, warranty costs,
and customer dissatisfaction [7].
4.3
Application to Bauer Products
The size and complexity of the systems being monitored increase the need for fast and sensitive
quality assurance methods. These compressors are much larger and more complex than a paint
compressor. Some use a 150 horse-power motor to drive a five-stage compressor to over 6000
psig for use in filling self-contained breathing apparatus [SCBA]. In addition to the components
mentioned in paragraph 2 above, these compressor systems contain:
1. inter-stage coolers
2. pressure maintaining valves (PMV)
3. inter-stage separators to remove oil and water
4. automatic condensate drains (ACD)
5. filtration for drying, purification, and removal of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide
and carbon dioxide from final output.
Effective operation for the long term requires that these systems function optimally throughout
their life cycles. Each system is thoroughly examined in the Bauer Test Department before
shipment to the customer. Parameters tested have historically included:
(1)
Pressure
(2)
Flow
(3)
Capacity
(4)
Voltage
(5)
Temperature
(6)
Current
(7)
Time
(8)
Frequency of both the compressor and its prime mover [electric
motor, gasoline or diesel powered engine].
The addition of FFT vibration spectrum analysis to this list of parameters provides the
stethoscope with which to monitor internal system operation and to search for anomalies that are
invisible to the other test methods. But what are we trying to find?

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5.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

5.1
General Application of FMEA
The most rigorous analytical methods in technology are useless if they do not provide pertinent
information. For this reason, it is important to identify the kinds of potential failures that can
occur in products, the consequences of these failures, and their potential causes. For example, if
your lawnmower exhaust muffler tends to darken in color with use, this can easily be detected,
but if the color change has no impact on system quality there is no reason to monitor it. It would
be more beneficial to check for lawnmower engine tuning, rust, blade condition, and their
effects. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) can be used to identify potential failures in
a system and their effects on system performance.
Fundamentally, FMEA is systematized technique which identifies and ranks the potential failure
modes of a design or manufacturing process in order to prioritize improvement actions [8]. Some
typical steps in a process FMEA include the following:
1. The process is mapped, showing every step.
2. Each critical feature of the product or service being produced by the process is
listed.
3. Under each critical feature, a team brainstorms possible failure modes.
4. For each failure mode, the team lists the effects of such a failure.
5. Severity, occurrence, and detection are rated for each failure mode.
6. An RPN is calculated from the ratings in step 5. RPN is the product of the
severity, occurrence, and detection ratings for each failure mode.
7. The highest RPN items are addressed with preventive action.
8. The RPN is recalculated considering the preventive action that is taken. [9]
5.2
The FMEA Process Used at Bauer for This Project
After generating interest in the use of vibration analysis for quality improvement, a key step of
the FMEA process was used to compile a list of potential failure modes by brainstorming among
key test and maintenance personnel. The following high-occurrence and severe failure modes in
compressor systems were identified:
1. Leaks
2. Imbalance of rotating parts in general
3. Misaligned and bent shafts
4. Belt damage or wear
5. Bearing damage, wear, or lack of lubrication
6. Sheave damage or wear
7. Inoperative relief valves
8. Worn or damaged piston rings
9. Improperly or inconsistently tightened fasteners
10. Blockage in filtration or purification media
11. Excessive moisture
Leaks were considered the most prevalent failure mode. Several of the above failure modes can
also be effects caused by something else. In either case, early detection is important to prevent

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further deterioration of the product. Early detection refers to the identification of a problem
before it is obvious by other, more conventional means, and also before the consequences of the
anomaly become significant. Each failure modes ease of detection became very relevant to this
studyspecifically whether the failure mode produced a measurable change in a compressor
systems vibration signature, the normal pattern of vibration in a known good system. Prior to
answering that question, the signature for each system had to be identified and its repeatability
and reproducibility assessed. Clearly, if the signature varied by more than the changes caused by
the failure modes, then their detection would be difficult or impossible.
6.

Identification of Measurement Parameters and Test Equipment

The next step was to determine what to measure and how to measure it. This included:
1. Selecting the parameters to measure for baseline data and the test points at which
to make the measurements
2. Identifying and acquiring the appropriate test equipment to use for the
measurement
6.1
Measurement Parameter Selection
The parameters of interest were:
1. Velocity for low frequency vibration up to 400 hz
2. Acceleration for higher frequency vibration up to 10,000 hz, initially
3. Frequency from 1 to 10,000 hz, initially, but later increased to 20,000 hz
4. High resolution depiction of these parameters in tabular format and graphical
representation as a FFT
6.2
Test Point Selection
The Test Points of interest included several candidates:
1. Cylinder head at each compressor stage
2. Prime mover housing [electric motor, gasoline or diesel engine]
3. System frame
4. Inter-stage and final separators
5. Automatic Condensate Drain (ACD)
6. Pressure Maintaining Valve (PMV)
7. Filtering Cartridge Inputs
8. Drying Cartridge Inputs
There are three, four, or five stages in each of the compressors used in Bauer high-pressure
products and there are as many as four separators including three inter-stage and one final
separator. The heads, the frame, and the prime mover were selected for both low frequency
monitoring, initially the only frequency of interest. Later, high frequencies were also monitored
for leaks or bearing problems in these and most of the other test points identified above.
6.3
Equipment Selection
System compatibility with Microsoft EXCEL was essential to the intense level of analysis
anticipated. We selected a portable, hand-held Vibration Spectrum Analyzer (VSA 1212)

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produced by DataStick Systems, Inc. with a DataStick DS140-1A accelerometer, made by


Connection Technology Center (CTC) with a frequency response up to 15 khz, that could easily
be mounted and removed from compressor components. Contact cements and threaded stud
mounts were deemed impractical for current applications, and a detachable dual-railed magnet
was selected for convenience and good coupling between the sensor and the vibrating surface, in
spite of the normal use of magnets at frequencies below 1 khz [10]. Subsequently, we have
upgraded to a Datastick VSA 1215, which handles frequencies up to 20,000 hz to include high
frequency oscillations caused by air leaks. Since the DS140-1A sensor frequency response is
limited to 15 khz, and the attachment of the magnet to the sensor tends to reduce it further, we
are experimenting with two additional accelerometers with a 25 khz frequency response, a CTC
AC240-1A and a PCB Piezotronics T352M131 to maximize coupling and frequency response.
7.

Data Collection to Establish and Analyze Vibration Signatures

7.1
Data Collection Methodology
The Vibration Spectrum Analyzer, VSA 1215, is adjusted for appropriate ranges, units, and
preferences and the combination of settings is saved as a configuration specification, as termed
by its manufacturer. Bauer uses two configurationsone for the Low Frequency data, the other
for High Frequency. Each Low Frequency run at each test point contains 1600 lines or data
points from 1 to 400 hz. Each High Frequency run at each test point contains 3200 lines or
data points from 6.25 to 20000 hz. A complete test series for a compressor system therefore
generates quite a lot of data. For example, testing a compressor system with 7 Low Frequency
test points and 15 High Frequency test points, the VSA will generate a total of 59200 data points
in a period of about 25 minutes. The Palm hand-held computer is then disconnected from the
VSA, connected to a personal computer loaded with DataStick software, and the data
downloaded during a Hot-Sync process.
7.2. Data Transfer and Analysis
After the data download, it is imported by manufacturers software into a pre-programmed
EXCEL file on a personal computer and transferred into a Bauer-programmed EXCEL analysis
program for automatic graphical analysis, statistical process control (SPC), comparison to
control limits, and diagnostic reporting. While many analytical tools are available with
manufacturers software, we devised programming tailored to Bauer needsboth for fast,
repetitive analysis, and assessment of the relevance of specific data. During the analysis process,
each set of data points is analyzed and a graph is generated for each data series at every test
point.
The graphs provide quick views of vibration throughout the compressor system. Unusual peaks
at specific frequencies can guide an experienced engineer or technician to a trouble spot.
Addition of UCLs makes anomalies particularly conspicuous. After identifying a problem, the
graphs help to diagnose the cause, sometimes pointing immediately to the component that is
likely to fail. Some examples are provided in the following sections.

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7.3
Overall Vibration for Each Test Point, Low Frequency (LF)
The root-sum-of-the-squares (RSS) of all measured velocities has been computed for each LF
scan. Some typical graphs are provided in figures 9 through 12.
7.3.1 Unicus System (7)
Figure 9. depicts the Overall Velocity at each test point in a Unicus compressor system.
Figure 9. Overall RSS velocity & SD Unicus (7).
Overall RSS Velocity 0-400 Hz

16

Velocity, in/sec

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
1

Test Point

This IK 18.1 Unicus system contains a five-stage compressor and is powered by 20 a HP electric
motor. Test points (TP) 1 through 5 are located on the respective cylinder heads and TP6 is
located on the motor housing. TP7 is the interior frame upon the compressor is mounted. No
data were taken at TP8. The graph demonstrates that:
Stages 1, 2, and 3 are vibrating at an RMS velocity of less than 5 cm/sec (2 in/sec on the
chart)
Stages 4 & 5 are vibrating more but not violently
The motor is very quiet
The compressor mounting frame, TP7, is vibrating at about 15 cm/sec (6 in/sec); while
more intense, studies have revealed that this level is not out of control for this test set-up.
Overall vibration is less than 15 cm/sec (6 inches/second)
The sample standard deviation of results for three runs is very small [low s] indicating
good system stability and repeatable results.

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7.3.2 Unicus System (6)


This IK 12.14 four-stage system has very different signature in that TP1 and TP2 are higher
than the rest, and TP7 is lower. All are well below 10 cm/sec (4 in/sec), a very quiet
compressor system, though the difference from System (7) could not be recognized by the
unaided human ear.
Figure 10. Overall RSS velocity Unicus (6).
Overall RSS Velocity 0-400 Hz

16
14

Velocity, in/sec

12
10
8
6
4
2
0
1

Test Point

The variation between four and five stage systems overall velocity graphs for the test set-up
used for these sets of data was negligible compared to the variation from system to system of the
same configuration.
7.3.3 Unicus System (5)
Figure 11 shows that IK12.14 Unicus (5) has greater vibration at TP2 and TP7, the second stage
and mounting frame, respectively. Neither point is out of control, but both are higher than
normal. No data were taken at TP5, as there is no fifth stage on this system.

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Figure 11. Overall RSS Velocity Unicus (5).


Overall RSS Velocity 0-400 Hz

16

Velocity, in/sec

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
1

Test Point

Note: Figure 12 has been deleted.


7.3.4 Unicus System (1)
Figure 13 depicts the overall vibration for another ID 18.1 Unicus system. In this case, the
average velocities at TP3, TP4 and TP7 are extremely high. The TP5 velocity is abnormally
high, but not excessively so. However, the vibration level in this system is unacceptable as
evidenced by later control charts. Close inspection of the unit revealed several causes:

A tiny pinhole in the compressor block (leak)


An Automatic Condensate Drain (ACD) misalignment, causing a continuous bleed (leak)
from the ACD
An improper pressure distribution among stages, particularly stages 3 and 4.
A faulty programmable logic controller (PLC).

The vibration created at stages 3 and 4 was transmitted to the compressor mounting surface
(frame) which was also vibrating excessively. After the problems were eliminated, the
measurements were repeated with the resulting signature shown in Figure 14, indicating normal
operation. The stark increase in the overall vibration plot for unit found to be defective, followed
by an equally stark decrease in vibration levels after the known problems were eliminated
confirmed the potential value of the FFT VSA system for diagnostics, predictive maintenance,
and ensuring that the manufacturing process remains in control.

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Figure 13. Overall RSS velocity Unicus (1) BAD


Overall RSS Velocity 1-400 Hz
16
14

Velocity, in/sec

12
10
8
6
4
2
0
1

Test Point

Figure 14. Overall RSS velocity Unicus (1) with new block, GOOD.
Overall RSS Velocity 0-400 Hz

16

Velocity, in/sec

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
1

Test Point

7.4
LF Scans at Specific Test Points in Specific Frequency Bands
The overall RSS vibration graphs sum the vibration overall frequencies in the scan. Greater
detail and valuable diagnostic data is provided by looking in the frequency domain at an FFT.
An example of a LF scan was provided in Figure 7. How does a scan of a normal stage 2 head
(TP2) compare to a scan of TP2 on a system which has been bumped by a forklift? Compare
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Figure 15, which shows the result of a LF scan of a normal Unicus (10), to Figure 16 for a
damaged Unicus (11), which has a much greater total velocity of 7.5 cm/sec (3 in/sec) at 7 hz.
Figure 15. TP2 RMS velocity Unicus (10) Normal.
Avg Velocity RMS

Velocity, in/sec

3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
1

7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 40 43 46 49 52 55 58 61
Frequency, Hz

Figure 16. TP2 RMS Velocity Unicus (11), Damaged.


Avg Velocity RMS

Velocity, in/sec

3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 40 43 46 49 52 55 58 61
Frequency, Hz

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7.5

High Frequency (HF) Scans

7.5.1 HF Narrow Band Analysis


An example of a HF scan was provided in Figure 8. The following graphs provide an expanded
view of the 5000 to 7000 hz band of HF scans. Figure 17 shows normal acceleration amplitude
in the band, while Figure 18 exhibits excessive amplitude of 250 cm/sec2 (0.25 g) at 5250 hz.
Following this analysis, troubleshooting results demonstrated a faulty ACD suppressor gasket,
and leaks in the ACD valve and the purification chamber fitting which were repaired.
Figure 17. TP3 Acceleration, 5000 to 5700 hz, Unicus (16).
Avg Acceleration, g
0.3

Accel, g rms

0.25
0.2
0.15
0.1
0.05
0
Frequency, hz

Figure 18. TP3 Acceleration, 5000 to 5700 hz, Unicus (17).


Avg Acceleration, g

0.3

Accel, g rms

0.25
0.2
0.15
0.1

Frequency, hz

7.5.2. HF Broadband Analysis


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5700

5675

5650

5625

5600

5575

5550

5525

5500

5475

5450

5425

5400

5375

5350

5325

5300

5275

5250

5225

5200

5175

5150

5125

5100

5075

5050

5025

5000

0.05

Where the previous paragraph viewed only the narrow band from 5000 to 5700 hz, Figures 19
and 20 show the full scan from 25 to 10000 hz, to reveal a similar problem, another leak, from a
different location, but evidenced in the same frequency region, around 5300 hz.
Figure 19. TP4 Acceleration, Unicus (19nb).
Accel, g

0.3
0.2

9925

9475

9025

8575

8125

7675

7225

6775

6325

5875

5425

4975

4525

4075

3625

3175

2725

2275

1825

1375

925

475

0.1

25

Acceleration, g

0.4

Frequency [Hz]

Figure 20. TP3 acceleration, Unicus (20a) with bad stage 4 valve.

0.4
Accel, g

Std Dev

Acceleration, g

0.3

0.2

9800

9375

8950

8525

8100

7675

7250

6825

6400

5975

5550

5125

4700

4275

3850

3425

3000

2575

2150

1725

1300

875

450

25

0.1

Frequency [Hz

The test technician had identified a valve problem with the 4th stage, disassembled the valve,
found and removed a small metal fragment the size of an ink dot, cleaned and reinstalled the
valve, and prepared the system for shipment. As a precaution, a vibration scan was conducted;
the result at stage 4 is shown in Figure 20. Subsequently, the valve was replaced before
2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

shipment, eliminating a potential failure in the field. A subsequent vibration scan demonstrated
normal vibration levels. In addition to predicting and preventing a premature failure, test
personnel learned from this that merely removing the tiny metal fragment had eliminated the
cause of the problem but not its effect. The fragment had irreparably damaged the valve to the
extent that it had to be replaced. However, routine testing had produced no evidence of the
lingering damage, which had only been revealed by vibration analysis.
7.6 Control Charts
FFT VSA provides demonstrable benefits to quality analysis, predictive maintenance, and
diagnostic testing. However, the comparison of individual graphs can be quite time consuming,
as shown above. Establishment of control charts with upper control limits (UCL) can
ultimately save a great deal of time. Anomalies can appear for either average or peak
(maximum) vibration values within a frequency band, but sometimes not both. Excessive
vibration in either category constitutes a failure; it is therefore helpful to establish a control
chart for each. Some examples are provided below.
7.6.1 Control Chart for TP1 in the Very Narrow Frequency Band from 0 to 9 hz
Figure 21 shows that two Unicus compressors exhibit vibration levels above the velocity upper
control limit in the 0-9 hz band. The problems with Unicus (1) have been detailed above.
Unicus (12) is a special in-house unit in a unique configuration that forces excessive vibration
at stage 1. The others are all within control.
Figure 21. Unicus TP1 control chart for 0-9 Hz, maximum (peak).
TP1 Band 0-9 Hz Max
UCL for TP1, 0-9 Hz, Max

Max Velocities in Band

3.5
3.0
2.5
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5

Compressor Number

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

24

22

20

19

17

15

13

11

0.0

7.6.2 Control Chart for TP3 in the Very Narrow Frequency Band from 0 to 9 hz
Figure 22 shows only Unicus (1) to be above the velocity upper control limit in the 0-9 hz band
at TP3. The fact that Unicus (12) is not above the UCL demonstrates the importance of
monitoring all the selected test pointsexcessive vibration rarely appears at all of the test
points. Neither does it appear in all frequency bands, evidencing the need to examine more
than one band.

Figure 22. Unicus TP3 control chart, 0-9 Hz, maximum (peak).
12

TP3, 0.9 Hz, Max Vel


UCL f or TP2, 0-9 Hz Max Vel

Max Velocities in Band

10
8
6
4
2

24

22

20

19

17

15

13

11

0
Com pressor Num ber

7.7 Analysis by Division of Scans into a Manageable Number of Frequency Bands


Control charts substantially reduce the amount of time required to identify anomalies, but
additional streamlining is both desirable and feasible. Anomalous peaks or groups of peaks
occurring in a 1600 line scan can easily be lost when looking at the total or average vibration
throughout the frequency range. On the other hand, comparison of each of the 1600 lines for
every test point to a derived table of corresponding UCLs would be cumbersome to say the
least. The same is true for very narrow frequency bands such as 0 to 9 hz.
A compromise approach is to divide the each entire frequency range (LF or HF) into ten bands,
and to identify the average and peak vibration in each band for each test point. Average and
peak UCLs are developed for each band/test point combination and automatically imbedded as
matrices in the spreadsheet for each compressor. Average values or peak values in each matrix
can easily be compared to their corresponding UCLs to identify anomalies. Examples of a data
average matrix and a UCL matrix are provided in sections 7.7.1 and 7.7.2, respectively.

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

7.7.1 Representative LF Data Averages Matrix for a Unicus 1214


Table 1 is an example of the summary data for a Unicus 1214, four stage system (no data appears
in the fifth column as there is no fifth stage.) The data and UCLs are listed in m/second.
Table 1. Average LF Data in Frequency Bands for Unicus (33) with PCB DR Magnet 352M131
Prime
Compr
Freqncy Band
Stg 1
Stg 2
Stg 3
Stg 4
Stg 5
Mover
Mount
Band
Lo End
Hi End
Average Velocity in Each Frequency Band at Each TP, m/sec rms
No.
Hz
Hz
TP1
TP2
TP3
TP4
TP5
TP6
TP7
no stage 5
1
1.00
40
520
582
933
1120
1407
1163
2
40.25
80
269
251
311
147
487
267
3
80.25
120
121
105
199
95
310
129
4
120.25
160
88
79
133
113
328
95
5
160.25
200
33
35
35
28
103
81
6
200.25
240
25
26
36
22
93
104
7
240.25
280
23
31
40
17
98
152
8
280.25
320
39
62
103
27
237
260
9
320.25
360
44
45
82
44
206
187
10
360.25
400
34
40
113
60
102
140
1 - 10
1.00
400
119
125
197
166
335
256

7.7.2 Representative UCLs Matrix for Unicus 1214 LF Data


Table 2 lists the UCLs for Unicus 1214 systems taken in the same configuration specification as
the Table 1 data. Note that several of the Table 1 data values for TP6 and TP7 exceed the
corresponding Table 2 UCL values, implying a faulty prime mover. In this situation, it is be
desirable for the EXCEL program to identify the offending data points as failures or points to be
checked.
Table 2. UCL's for Unicus 1214 LF Data in Frequency Bands

Band
No.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
1 - 10

Freqncy Band
Lo End
Hi End
Hz
Hz
1
40.25
80.25
120.25
160.25
200.25
240.25
280.25
320.25
360.25
1

40
80
120
160
200
240
280
320
360
400
400

Prime
Inner
Stg 1
Stg 2
Stg 3
Stg 4
Stg 5
Mover
Frame
UCL Average Velocity in Each Frequency Band at Each TP, m/sec rms
TP1
TP2
TP3
TP4
TP5
TP6
TP7
898
609
199
119
66
38
38
81
91
96
183

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864
482
168
118
63
45
43
100
70
73
171

1350
661
285
169
64
53
56
121
121
162
239

1373
561
147
130
48
50
62
107
72
74
201

430
708
256
83
22
23
20
35
8
8
138

1366
427
236
177
107
46
52
109
60
61
184

7.7.3 Status Summary Matrices: ok or FAIL for Unicus 1214 LF Data


The natural successor to the matrices of Tables 1 and 2 is a third matrix containing the results of
comparing the first two. This is easily accomplished in EXCEL, by programming an automatic
comparison of corresponding elements in the data matrix and the UCL matrix. The spreadsheet
is also programmed to report the status of each data element as ok or FAIL based on the
comparison. Within seconds of viewing the tabulation of results, a technician can identify:
Whether the compressor system passes or fails
Whether each test point passes or fails, and
The location of any effects and of many of their causes
Table 3 provides the results of comparing corresponding cells in Tables 1 and 2. In each case
where the data value exceeds the corresponding UCL, the FAIL is displayed. Conversely, the
table displays ok where the data value is less than the UCL. Ironically, the only frequency
band in which the prime mover passes, is band 2, which contains the fundamental frequency at
which the motor is rotating, 59 hz. The UCL for band 2 is higher than the others because the
normal vibration at the motors frequency is typically greater than the rest. Hence, the motor
would not be suspected of shaft imbalance or other problem associated with its fundamental
frequency. Rather, the motor bearings or fasteners would be suspect. Actually, in order to
demonstrate a FAILURE, the sensor was deliberately attached to slightly different locations on
the motor assembly (TP6) and on the frame (TP7) which the data clearly reflected. In addition to
demonstrating how the Status Matrix responds to an anomaly, this accentuates the need for
consistency in the data collection process.
Table 3. Status of LF Data in Frequency Bands for Unicus (33) with PCB DR Magnet 352M131
Prime
Inner
Freqncy Band
Stg 1
Stg 2
Stg 3
Stg 4
Stg 5
Mover
Frame
Band
Low End
Hi End
STATUS of Average Velocity in Each Frequency Band at Each TP
No.
Hz
Hz
TP1
TP2
TP3
TP4
TP5
TP6
TP7
0
1
1
40
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
ok
2
40.25
80
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
3
80.25
120
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
ok
4
120.25
160
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
ok
5
160.25
200
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
ok
6
200.25
240
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
FAIL
7
240.25
280
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
FAIL
8
280.25
320
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
FAIL
9
320.25
360
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
FAIL
10
360.25
400
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
FAIL
1 - 10
1
400
ok
ok
ok
ok
ok
FAIL
FAIL

8.

Test and Analysis Results

The Status Matrix of Table 3 summarizes the entire FFT VSA process, and displays the
condition of the compressor system as indicated by the vibration scan. Immediately after the data
has been collected, downloaded, and analyzed, the technician can assess the vibration condition
of the system at a glance and either take remedial action or prepare the unit for shipment to the
2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

customer. Additional diagnostic information is immediately available in the form of FFT graphs
of all test points throughout the frequency range as well as selected frequency bands. The graphs
are prepared automatically within the spreadsheet programming.
The spreadsheet analysis described above provides a turnkey system for diagnostic testing,
predictive maintenance, and maintaining process control in the manufacturing process.
However, it has another application which expands its applicability as described in Section 8.1.
8.1
The Generic FFT VSA Spreadsheet for General Use and Refinement
The spreadsheet was developed for analysis a specific class of products manufactured by Bauer.
However, there are dozens of different Bauer product classes requiring FFT VSA analysis. The
spreadsheet has therefore been generically formatted suitably for most Bauer systems. For
example, it can be applied to three, four, or five stage compressors, with up to four separators, up
to four automatic condensate drains, with or without a Securus or dryer, and with any of three
types of prime movers. It is universally applicable in all of these cases, requiring only that data
be collected, downloaded, and transferred to the matrix. Control charts are initially developed
from the matrices of Tables 1 and 2, and can be periodically updated as needed.
The control charts allow subsequent evaluation of the need to continue collecting data at a
particular test point, or eliminating it from future scans if of no benefit. When specific anomalies
direct the technician to specific causes, the knowledge base is further increased. By tracking the
correlation of causes to effects (anomalies), the Status Summary Matrices can be used to create a
Diagnostic Troubleshooting Matrix as described in section 8.2.
8.2
The Diagnostic Troubleshooting Matrix
The amount of vibration at particular test point and at a specific frequency can logically suggest
likely causes. For example, when that the FFT at TP2 contains an exceptionally high peak at 23
hz, the compressor frequency, there is a high likelihood of a problem in the second stage of the
compressor, or something directly connected to it. If the vibration is normal at TP3 and at the
separator between TP2 and TP3, the problem is likely inside the second stage. In other cases, the
correlation between cause and effect is less obvious and must be determined empirically, as
evidenced in sections 7.5.1 and 7.5 2. The correlation between excessive acceleration around
5300 hz and both a leaking ACD and a bad valve demonstrates that more than one cause can
produce the same effect. This must be taken into account when developing a Diagnostic
Troubleshooting Matrix. A FAIL indication at TP3 in frequency band 3, 4 khz to 6 khz, could be
caused by either a leaking ACD or a bad valve in stage 3. The spreadsheet would therefore be
programmed to recommend checking both potential causes.
Since a failure in a particular matrix element often points to a particular cause, the Diagnostic
Troubleshooting Matrix, has been established to automatically identify likely causes of a failure
in each matrix element. This matrix is evolving as data is accumulated, linking data patterns to
identified problems, using the generic spreadsheet that has been developed for this purpose.
Eventually, a thorough diagnostic trouble-shooting matrix can be developed for each type and
configuration of system for which data are collected.

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

Recall from section 7.7.2 that the failures at TP6 were deliberately induced by sensor placement
at an different location than normal. However, the Table 3 can be used to illustrate the evolution
of the corresponding diagnostic troubleshooting matrix in Table 4. The first line under the
headings in Table 4 announces a failure at the prime mover, TP6, without regard to a particular
frequency band. The second line shows that a failure occurred in frequency band 1 from 1 to 40
hz, which contains the compressor frequency, 23 hz, but not the prime mover frequency, 59 hz.
The third line demonstrates that the vibration at the prime mover frequency is normal. Therefore
neither a bent shaft nor a prime mover sheave imbalance is likely. As more data are collected for
a particular compressor system, more information can be added to the Diagnostic and Predictive
Test Results column of the table linking a FAIL to its likely causes.
Table 4. Diagnostic Matrix (partial) for Unicus (33) using PCB Sensor 352M131 w/DR Magnet
Freqncy
Band
From: To:

Ck#

TP#

400

6A

40

6B

40.25

80

6C

80.25

120

9.

Diagnostic and Predictive Test Results


There is excessive LF vibration at prime mover. Check
steps 6A - 6K, also.
The Prime Mover is generating excessive vibration in
the frequency band identified to the left of this cell.
Check the Prime Mover & connected components.
Vibration is normal at the Prime Mover in the frequency
band identified to the left of this cell.
The Prime Mover is generating excessive vibration in
the frequency band identified to the left of this cell.
Check the Prime Mover, bearings, & connected
components.

Status
FAIL
FAIL
ok

FAIL

Some Challenges and Pitfalls

9.1
Frequency response
The frequency response of the vibration measurement system comprises the response of the
sensor, its associated indication system, the software driving the system, and the sensor mounting
mechanism, as reflected by data from numerous sensor manufacturers. While indicators and
software have not posed any known problems during this project, sensors and mounting
configurations have. Manufacturers specifications typically show severe reductions in frequency
response with the use of magnetic mounts, e.g., from 15 khz to 2 khz with a dual rail magnet,
largely due to reduced resonant frequency [11]. However, data accumulated during this study
imply that the degree of coupling between the sensor and the vibrating mass that it is monitoring
strongly affects the frequency response. This implication relates directly to the strength of the
magnet holding the sensor in place. The greater the bond between the magnet and the
vibrating mass, the less impact on the frequency response. Continued investigation is expected to
contribute to optimization of both the frequency response and its consistency attainable during
this project.

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

9.2
Configuration Specification
The configuration specification defines the settings of parameters during the vibration scans. It
includes the following:
Maximum scan frequency (selected between 50 hz and 20 kzh)
Resolution (which can be 400, 800, 1600, or 3200 lines per scan). Greater resolution
requires more time but also provides more detail in the FFT
Filter Window (Hanning, Uniform, Hamming, Flattop, Blackman, or Bartlett)
Frequency Mode Preferences
Other selections with less effect on the scan performance
9.3
Repeatability
Repeatability refers to the degree of consistency of results of successive measurements, using the
same test equipment, configuration, environmental conditions, operator, etc. As alluded to in
paragraph 9.1, the random variation in coupling between the sensor and the vibrating surface
causes variation in frequency response and therefore impairs repeatability. Consistency of
methodology, technique, and test equipment are all essential to optimize repeatability. Early in
this project, each scan was performed three times and a standard deviation computed for each
trio of scans. Repeatability was found to be substantially affected by resolution; far more
repeatable results were obtained with greater resolution particularly in peak heights. We
currently use 1600 lines on LF scans and 3200 lines on HF scans.
9.4
Reproducibility
Reproducibility refers to the degree of consistency of results with different test equipment,
environmental conditions, operator, location, etc. A change in any one of these parameters is
likely to produce a change even if small. However, if data are to be analyzed statistically to
produce control charts, reproducibility is essential to their validity and effectiveness. Different
magnets, sensors, environmental conditions, operators, and even different filtering windows will
likely produce different results, particularly if system calibration is not performed on all
measurement systems used.
9.5
Interpretation of data
The best, most repeatable and reproducible data are of little value if they are misinterpreted. A
major goal is accurate correlation of data to assignable causes whether used for ensuring that a
process is in control, for diagnostic testing, or for predictive maintenance. A combination of
extensive experience, familiarity with the test equipment used, and understanding of vibration
theory is essential to accurate interpretation. Attaining this combination is labor intensive and
requires a great deal of time. At Bauer, the combination is still evolving. Some examples of
challenges with data interpretation follow:
Ghost frequencies resulting from sums, differences, and combinations with actual
vibrations. These are modulations, frequency components that appear in a vibration
signature but cannot be attributed to any specific physical cause [13].
Mistaking a harmonic for a fundamental frequency
The problems root cause can sometimes produce an effect at a different location in a
compressor system. For example, a leak at stage 4 may produce a pressure imbalance at
stage 3.

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

A flat FFT (very low amplitude) at high frequencies may not reflect actual vibration at
those frequencies if the frequency response is substantially reduced by poor mechanical
coupling or other anomalies
Poor reproducibility among test systems can generate high UCLs and false acceptability
when a low level of velocity or acceleration is indicated.
As shown in Tables 3 and 4, a series of failures indicated at a single test point can lead to
a faulty conclusion about the acceptability at that test point.
Changes in baseline data to establish vibration signatures can lead to faulty conclusions
from data. Such changes can result from a change in equipment calibration (drift),
equipment configuration, operator, environment, battery voltage, mounting techniques,
calibration, and many other sources of variation.
Human error such as mistaken identification of scans; for example, it is not difficult to
correlate scan data with the wrong test point in a series of many scans.
Alignment of two peaks at the same frequency with two distinctly separate causes, which
tends to mask one of the causes.
Cyclical occurrence of a short-term disruption, if unnoticed, can lead to the impression of
a problem which does not exist. For example, Bauer compressor systems often use a
periodic, automatic condensate drain (ACD) system to remove moisture that accumulates
between stages and after the final stage. Due to the noise level produced by the
compressor, an ACD cycle may be ignored or even unnoticed. The vibration scan may
be grossly distorted in this case producing a false failure.

9.6
Microprocessor Memory
It is impractical to collect full, high-resolution spectral data on all systems on a routine basis due
to the large amount of storage it requires. Full-range signatures should be limited to one-time
inspection of produced items, items in which a problem has been confirmed, or other unique
scenarios requiring comprehensive analysis [13].
9.7
FFT VSA Technological Evolution
Frequent changes to test system or software configuration in the rapidly changing state-of-the-art
of FFT VSA technology. Such changes sometimes change baseline data, which require
extensive testing to re-establish at current levels.
9.8
Education and Training
Training of technical staff in the measurement process and basic vibration theory is essential.
Good laboratory practice must be followed, including consistency in technique and method.
Often this requires an understanding of the technology and mathematics behind the process. Test
technicians, like all metrologists, must be among the most highly-skilled and knowledgeable
personnel in the work-force and current training is essential to that end.
9.9
Documentation of Test Methods
Standardized procedures are essential to consistency in results and process efficiency. They are
also necessary for adequate training of technicians

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

9.10 Extensive Time Requirements to Establish FFT VSA


Given the huge quantity of data, data storage, and data analysis, the time and effort required to
establish a successful quality program involving FFT and VSA. This translates to money, and
the cost of the venture must be taken into account before committing to the task. The
commitment of top management should be obtained at the beginning of the process to avoid
termination at the arrival of the first impediment.
10.

Conclusions and Recommendations

10.1 Fast Fourier Transform Vibration Spectrum Analysis (FFT VSA) can significantly benefit a
manufacturing process by:
revealing mechanical system malfunctions that might otherwise remain unknown
until the appearance of serious problems
confirming that a manufacturing system is in control and flagging problems before
they are evident by other indicators
identifying the location of problems and shorten troubleshooting time by isolating
problem causes as well as effects
enhancing future system reliability during and immediately following the
manufacturing process before product sale or shipment
increasing the perceived value of a product and therefore its competitiveness and
worth on the market
10.2 The type of spreadsheet developed for this project can greatly reduce the time and cost of
FFT VSA data collection and analysis. Optimization of the test points, test equipment selection,
and good laboratory practices are requisites for success in such a project.
10.3 Particular attention should be given to the challenges and pitfalls identified in section 9 of
this paper when planning and implementing a FFT VSA system in a manufacturing environment.

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium

References:
.
1.
Merriam Webster Online, http://www.merriam-webster.com/ .
2.
R. Keith Mobley, Vibration Monitoring and Analysis, Chapter 7 in An Introduction to
Predictive Maintenance, Elsevier Science, Woburn MA, 2002, pp. 114-171.
3.
F. P. Beer and E. R. Johnston, Jr., Mechanical Vibrations, Chapter 3 in Vector
Mechanics for Engineers, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1988, pp. 942-944.
4.
Mobley, R. op. cit. p. 118-120.
5.
Ibid. p. 167.
6.
Ibid. p. 294.
7.
Ibid. pp. 1-6
8.
Lisa Somanchi, Quality Glossary: The Quality Portal, http://thequalityportal.com/
glossary/f.htm, 2007
9.
Lee Binz, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, A Powerful Six Sigma Tool, copyright
Wisc-Online, 2007, p. 3, http://www.wisc-online.com/objects/index_tj.asp?objID=
QLT2304
10. Mobley, R. op. cit. p. 158.
11. CTC Vibration Analysis Hardware, Sensor Mounting Techniques, http://www.primac.
net/Downloads/CTC/Technical%20Info/Sensor%20Mounting%20Techniques.pdf
12. Mobley, R. op. cit. p. 294-296.
13. Ibid. p. 165.

2009 NCSL International Workshop and Symposium