Introduction Into Vibration Services.

What is vibration? Vibration is the response of a system to an internal or external stimulus causing it to oscillate. While it is commonly thought that vibration itself damages machines, it does not. Instead it is the damage done by dynamic stress that causes fatigue of the materials: the dynamic stresses are caused by vibration. That is to say that different machines have a different toleration to vibration.

What causes vibration? There are literally hundreds of specific problems that can cause a machine to exhibit excessive vibration. To locate the root cause of vibration an analysis of the vibration is required. The forces that cause vibration are usually generated through the rotating motion of the machine’s parts or electrical supply frequency. When a fault condition occurs the problem will exhibit characteristics that are directly related to these frequencies. The following is a list of common “forcing frequencies”. Rotational Shaft Speeds Electric Motor Rotor Bar Frequencies Electrical Supply Frequencies Gear Meshing Frequencies Impeller Blade Pass Frequencies Bearing Frequencies, • • • • Fundamental Train Frequency Ball Spin Frequency Ball Pass-Inner Race Frequency Ball Pass-Outer Race Frequency

Belt Frequencies Stator Pole Pass Frequencies Oil Whirl Frequency in Plain Bearing Machines External (Loading) Frequencies Random Vibration Natural Frequencies

Measuring vibration. As vibration is oscillating movement we could simply just measure the amount of movement in the system, this is called displacement. The displacement is usually expressed as the distance from one extreme of travel to the other, or ‘peak to peak displacement’. The units of displacement are micrometers, µm, (0.001mm=1 micrometer). However displacement is related to the frequency. For example 30µm at 1000Rpm is just as destructive as 300µm at 100Rpm. This makes the setting of alarms cumbersome to evaluate machinery condition. It must be remembered that each source of vibration contributes t the ultimate fatigue of the machine. The overall o condition of the machine can only be determined by an overall measurement of vibration that takes into consideration all frequencies of vibration with relatively equal weighting. This is accomplished by using the first differential of displacement, velocity. Vibration Velocity is a measurement of the speed at which a machine or machine component is moving as it undergoes oscillating movement. Vibration velocity is measured in mm/s (millimetres per second). As a fatigue indicator overall vibration levels are constant from 500-120 000Cpm. This encompasses most machine shaft speeds and internal mesh components. When vibration frequencies are expected well below 500Cpm we take displacement readings and when vibration frequencies are expected above 120 000Cpm we differentiate Vibration Velocity, this is called Vibration Acceleration.

Vibration Acceleration has the unit ‘g’. Where g is a multiple of acceleration due to earth’s gravity (9.81m/s²). As a fatigue indicator acceleration is a constant above 120 000 cpm.

Relationship of vibration units when used as fatigue indicators 1000


10 Amplitude


Displacement Velocity Acceleration



0.001 60 600 3k 10k 60k 120k 300k 600k Frequency Cpm

In conclusion we can say: -

1) We will take velocity readings on all machines. 2) We will take acceleration readings on machines where we expect frequencies above 120 000 cpm.
Vibration alarm levels. We said earlier that, different machines have a different toleration to vibration. To expand this statement we can say that if two machines are subjected to the same dynamic force, the amplitude response from the machine that has greater dynamic resistance will be less than that of the other machine. For example, if a machine is placed on spring isolators, the vibration will likely increase due to less dynamic resistance for the same imposed dynamic forces. Alarms provide a warning that a defined value of vibration has been reached or a significant change has occurred. In general a warning alarm condition can continue whilst investigations are carried out to identify the reason for the change in vibration and define ant remedial action. When a machine is in critical alarm immediate action should be taken to reduce the vibration of the machine should be shutdown. The critical alarms are set from ISO 10816-1:1995(E) a simplification is given below. CLASS I II Description Machines driven by electric motors <15 kW on solid foundations Machines driven by electric motors >15kW but <75kW on solid foundations or machines driven by electric motors <15 kW on flexible foundations (anti-vibration pads). Very rigidly mounted machines up to 300kW on special (light) foundations. Machines driven by electric motors >75kW on rigid heavy foundations. Machines driven by electric motors >15kW but <75kW on flexible foundations (anti-vibration pads). Machines driven by electric motors >300kW on foundations, which are relatively soft in the direction of vibration measurement (for example turbines with outputs greater than 10MW). Peak mm/s 10 16 RMS mm/s 7.1 11.2







High Frequency Enveloping (Spike Energy). From the preceding discussion it should be apparent that displacement, velocity and acceleration are not well suited in detecting rolling element bearing deterioration and other problems that cause low amplitude, short duration pulses or spikes of energy. If any item is struck it will tend to vibrate or ‘ring’ at its natural frequency. If a flaw exists on a bearing this will act like a tiny hammer and cause the bearing to ring at its natural frequency and whatever the bearing is connected to mechanically will ring at its’ natural frequency. The same is true for a defective gear. To calculate all these natural frequencies would be a tremendous task. So a filter is set usually 5kHz to filter out all frequencies below that frequency, then the overall amplitude of the remainder is taken. This gives a reading that is directly proportional to the amount of metal-to-metal contact in a system. As it is a high frequency reading spike energy does not travel very far, thus wherever the highest spike energy reading is, is where the highest amount of metal-to-metal contact exists. The unit of spike energy is gSE. All bearings have a spike energy reading taken on them. How do we take a vibration reading? In order to analyse a vibration it needs to be converted into an electrical signal. transducer is used. To do t is a vibration h

The first vibration transducers were a shaft stick with a magnet on the opposite end surrounded by a coil to produce an electrical signal. This is known as a displaceometer as its native units are displacement. The next generation of vibration transducers used spring-loaded magnets inside a coil to produce an electrical signal, these are known as velocometers. The most common sensors in use nowadays are based on piezoelectric technology, a weight inside the transducer is pressed against a series of piezoelectric discs and an electric signal is produced proportional to the vibration. These transducers are called accelerometers. All these transducers are still in use today, but the majority of data collectors use accelerometers. Once a signal is obtained using a transducer it is just a matter of using signal processing techniques to store, filter and break down the signal into its component frequencies. There is a need to get as close to the bearing housing as possible to take the vibration reading. The accelerometers are usually portable mounted magnetically or they can be installed permanently if guarding does not permit access. Vibration Frequency The following is a raw vibration velocity signal: -

From this, one can see that this is made of various frequencies, with the addition of one off non-repetitive vibration. The vibration software breaks this down into component frequencies.

The y-axis shows the amplitude of the vibration and the x-axis the frequency of that vibration. From these graphs it is simple to see the dominant frequency or frequencies of vibration and therefore the frequency at which the fault is occurring.

Direction of Vibration.

As mentioned previously all vibration problems exhibit certain characteristics. One characteristic is the frequency another is the direction. If possible we take vertical, horizontal and axial velocity readings on each bearing in the system. Unfortunately access problems such as coupling and belt guards mean that it is not always possible to obtain all the readings.

Access Problems. It is becoming more and more common to totally enclose a machine either for reasons of safety or for environmental reasons. This results in machines having very poor access with respect to taking vibration data. This problem can be solved with the fitting of fixed sensors and taking the signal outside the enclosure to a socket that can then be connected to the vibration data collector.

Vibration Analysis as a predictive maintenance tool. To use vibration analysis in a trending predictive maintenance environment requires the following steps. 1) An initial visit of the machines are required to take the following details: • The name of the machine • The speed of machine. • The machine type, i.e. fan, motor, gearbox, pump, etc. • As readings are normally taken on, or as close to, the bearing housing as possible, the number of bearings on the machine, numbered from the non-drive end, are essential. • The directions that readings can be taken, vertical, horizontal or axial with respect to the feet mounts, as vibration can be directional. • The units of vibration required to be used. 2) A database is then written on the PC using information gathered in (1) and containing alarm levels set by methods previously discussed 3) A vibration data route is written from the database on the PC 4) This route is loaded from the PC into a vibration data collector. 5) Vibration data is then collected on the machine using the vibration data collector. 6) The vibration data collector is downloaded into the PC. 7) The computer generates a report that lists the readings that are in excess of the criteria set out in the alarm levels. 8) An analysis is performed on the data taken. 9) Conclusions and recommendations are submitted on the basis of the data taken. Once you obtain historical data you build up a trend of not only overall vibration levels but also frequency levels. The frequency must be of at least 3 months. The longer that is left between data acquisition the more likely a failure could occur on the machine.

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