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VIBRATION ANALYSIS: In gear reducers, vibration analysis can determine misalignment, unbalance, mechanical looseness, eccentric shafts, gear wear, broken teeth, and bearing wear. In electric motors vibration analysis can determine misalignment, unbalance, mechanical looseness, eccentric rotors, bearing wear, loose rotor bars, and poor end turn connections. Vibration analysis can be applied to all rotating equipment, ( from less than 1 rpm to 10000 rpm and above) these include electric motors, fans, machine tools, paper machines, turbines, conveyor belt drives, pumps, air-compressors, motor-generator sets, reciprocating engines, rolling mills, and mining equipment from long wall shearers to continuous mining machines.

Introduction to Vibration INDEX acceleration amplitude Amplitude demodulation Amplitude modulation Angular Misalignment Average Bearing Mobility bearing tones Beats Belt drives blade rate bump test carrier

Cavitation Centrifugal Compressors Centrifugal Fans Commercial Standards Compressor surge continuous spectrum Couplings Crest factor critical D.C. Motors dB degrees of freedom Deterministic differentiation displacement Dynamic Imbalance Eccentric Sheaves excitation force fans fault FFT FFT analyzer First Order Forcing Frequencies frequency Frequency Analysis

frequency domain FTF Fundamental Train Frequency G Gear eccentricity Gear pumps ghost harmonic harmonic series harmonics ICP imbalance Induction Motors Integration ISO Standards jerk journal bearing Kurtosis linear Log logarithm Loose Windings looseness Magnetostriction mils Mil-Std 167-2

misalignment Modal Analysis Modulation NAVSEA Technical Specification non-synchronous components Oil Whirl Orbit plots oscillation overhung Parallel Misalignment Peak Amplitude Peak-to-Peak pendulum period phase Pumps quasi-periodic Random Noise Reciprocating Machines resonance RMS Rolling Element Bearings Root Mean Square rotor rotor bar rotor bow

screw type pump Sensor Mounting Pads Sheave Misalignment sidebands signals Simple Harmonic Motion sine wave sinusoid slip slot pass frequency spectrum Spectrum Comparison Spectrum Mask stationary stator Synchronous Averaging Synchronous Motors tachometer ten-point divider time domain tooth-mesh transducer trending trigger Truncation Turbines

vane pass VdB velocity vibration Vibration Severity Chart vibration spectrum VTAG wave form waveform whole body motion Introduction to Vibration

What is Vibration? Energy and Power Considerations Linear and Non-Linear Systems Frequency Analysis Octave Band and One-Third Octave Band Analysis Linear and Logarithmic Amplitude Scales

What is Vibration?
In its simplest form, vibration can be considered to be the oscillation or repetitive motion of an object around an equilibrium position. The equilibrium position is the position the object will attain when the force acting on it is zero. This type of vibration is called "whole body motion", meaning that all parts of the body are moving together in the same direction at any point in time. The vibratory motion of a whole body can be completely described as a combination of individual motions of six different types. These are translation in the three orthogonal directions x, y, and z, and rotation around the x, y, and z-axes. Any complex motion the body may have can be broken down into a combination of these six motions. Such a body is therefore said to possess six degrees of freedom. For instance, a ship can move in the fore and aft direction (surge), up and down


direction (heave), and port and starboard direction (sway), and it can rotate lengthwise (roll), rotate around the vertical axis (yaw), and rotate about the port-starboard axis (pitch). Suppose an object were restrained from motion in any direction except one. For instance, a clock pendulum is restricted from motion except in one plane. It is therefore called a single degree of freedom system. Another example of a single degree of freedom system is an elevator moving up and down in an elevator shaft. The vibration of an object is always caused by an excitation force. This force may be externally applied to the object, or it may originate inside the object. It will be seen later that the rate (frequency) and magnitude of the vibration of a given object is completely determined by the excitation force, direction, and frequency. This is the reason that vibration analysis can determine the excitation forces at work in a machine. These forces are dependent upon the machine condition, and knowledge of their characteristics and interactions allows one to diagnose a machine problem.

Simple Harmonic Motion
The simplest possible vibratory motion that can exist is the movement in one direction of a mass controlled by a single spring. Such a mechanical system is called a single degree of freedom springmass system. If the mass is displaced a certain distance from the equilibrium point and then released, the spring will return it to equilibrium, but by then the mass will have some kinetic energy and will overshoot the rest position and deflect the spring in the opposite direction. It will then decelerate to a stop at the other extreme of its displacement where the spring will again begin to return it toward equilibrium. The same process repeats over and over with the energy sloshing back and forth between the spring and the mass -- from kinetic energy in the mass to potential energy in the spring and back. The following illustration shows a graph of the displacement of the mass plotted versus time.

If there were no friction in the system, the oscillation would continue at the same rate and same amplitude forever. This idealized simple harmonic motion is almost never found in real mechanical systems. Any real system does have friction, and this causes the amplitude of vibration to gradually decrease as the energy is converted to heat. The following definitions apply to simple harmonic motion: T = The period of the wave.


The period is the time required for one cycle, or one "round trip" from one zero crossing to the next zero crossing in the same direction. The period is measured in seconds, or milliseconds, depending on how fast the wave is changing. The unit for frequency is F = The Frequency of the wave, = 1/T the Hz, named after Heinrich Hertz, the German The frequency is the number of cycles that occur in one second, and is simply the reciprocal of the period. scientist who first investigated radio.

Equations of Motion
If the position, or displacement, of an object undergoing simple harmonic motion is plotted versus time on a graph as shown above, the resulting curve is a sine wave,or sinusoid, and is described by the following equation: where d = instantaneous displacement, D = maximum, or peak, displacement = angular frequency, = 2f t = time This is the same curve that the sine function from trigonometry generates, and it can be considered the simplest and most basic of all possible repetitive wave forms. The mathematical sine function is derived from the relative lengths of the sides of a right triangle, and the sine wave is actually a plot of the value of the sine function versus angle. In the case of vibration, the sine wave is plotted as a function of time, but one cycle of the waveform is sometimes considered to equal 360 degrees of angle. More will be said about this when we consider the subject of phase. The velocity of the motion described above is equal to the rate of change of the displacement, or in other words how fast its position is changing. The rate of change of one quantity with respect to another can be described by the mathematical derivative, as follows:

where v = instantaneous velocity. Here we see that the form of the velocity function is also sinusoidal, but because it is described by the cosine, it is displaced by 90 degrees. We will see the significance of this in a moment. The acceleration of the motion described here is defined as the rate of change of the velocity, or how fast the velocity is changing at any instant:

where a = instantaneous acceleration. Note here also that the acceleration function is displaced by an additional 90 degrees, as indicated by the negative sign.


If we examine these equations, it is seen that the velocity is proportional to the displacement times the frequency, and that the acceleration is proportional to the frequency squared times the displacement. This means that at a large displacement and a high frequency, very high velocities result, and extremely high levels of acceleration would be required. For instance, suppose that a vibrating object is undergoing 0.1 inch of displacement at 100 Hz. The velocity equals displacement times frequency, or , Acceleration equals displacement times frequency squared, or a = 0.1 x 10000 = 1000 inches per second per second. One G of acceleration equals 386 inches per second per second, so this acceleration is

Now, see what happens if we raise the frequency to 1000 Hz: , and

Thus, we see that in practice, high frequencies can not be associated with high displacement levels.

Dynamics of Mechanical Systems
A small compact physical structure, such as a marble, can be thought of as simply a mass. It will move in response to an external force applied to it, and Newton’s laws of motion will govern its movement. Simply put, Newton's laws dictate that if the marble is at rest, it will remain at rest unless acted on by an external force, and if in motion it will continue in motion unless acted on by an external force. If it is subjected to an external force, its acceleration will be proportional to that force. Most mechanical systems are more complex than a simple mass, and they do not necessarily move as a whole when subjected to a force. Mechanical systems, such as rotating machines, are not infinitely rigid, and have varying degrees of flexibility at different frequencies. As we will see, their motion in response to an external force is dependent on the nature of that force and the dynamic characteristics of their mechanical structure, and is often difficult to predict. The disciplines of Finite Element Modeling (FEM) and Modal Analysis are dedicated to predicting how a structure will respond to a known force. We will not discuss these fields further, for they are very complex, but it is instructive to look into how forces and structures interact if we are to understand the usefulness of vibration analysis of machines.

Vibration Amplitude Measurement
The following definitions apply to the measurement of mechanical vibration amplitude.


Peak Amplitude (Pk) is the maximum excursion of the wave from the zero or equilibrium point. Peak-to-Peak Amplitude (Pk-Pk) is the distance from a negative peak to a positive peak. In the case of the sine wave, the peak-to-peak value is exactly twice the peak value because the waveform is symmetrical, but this is not necessarily the case with all vibration waveforms, as we will see shortly. Root Mean Square Amplitude (RMS) is the square root of the averageof the squared values of the waveform. In the case of the sine wave, the RMS value is 0.707 times the peak value, but this is only true in the case of the sine wave. The RMS value is proportional to the area under the curve -if the negative peaks are rectified, i.e., made positive, and the area under the resulting curve averaged to a constant level, that level would be proportional to the RMS value.

The RMS value of a vibration signal is an important measure of its amplitude. As mentioned before, it is numerically equal to the square root of the average of the squared value of amplitude. To calculate this value, the instantaneous amplitude values of the waveform must be squared and these squared values averaged over a certain length of time. This time interval must be at least one period of the wave in order to arrive at the correct value. The squared values are all positive, and thus so is their average. Then the square root of this average value is extracted to get the RMS value. Average Amplitude, which is simply the The RMS value must be used in all calculations regarding arithmetic average of the signal level power or energy in a waveform. An example of this is the over time, is not used in vibration 117 volt AC line. The 117 volts is the RMS value of the measurements, and we will not voltage, and it is used in calculations of the wattage (power) consider it further. drawn by devices connected to it. Remember that the RMS value of a sine wave is 0.707 times the peak value, and this is the only wave form where this is true. We will see shortly


that this is important.

The Concept of Phase
Phase is a measure of relative time difference between two sine waves. Even though phase is truly a time difference, it is almost always measured in terms of angle, either degrees or radians. This represents normalization to the time taken by one cycle of the wave in question, without regard to its true time period. The phase difference between two waveforms is often called a phase shift. A phase shift of 360 degrees is a time delay of one cycle, or one period of the wave, which actually amounts to no phase shift at all. A phase shift of 90 degrees is a shift of 1/4 of the period of the wave, etc. Phase shift may be considered positive or negative, i.e., one waveform may be delayed relative to another one, or one waveform may be advanced relative to another one. These conditions are called phase lag and phase lead respectively.

In this example, the lower curve is shifted 90 degrees with respect to the upper curve. This is a time lag of one-fourth of the period of the wave. You could also say the upper waveform has a 90 degree phase lead. Phase can also be measured with reference to a particular time. An example of this is the phase of an imbalance component in a rotor with reference to a fixed point on the rotor, such as a key way. To measure this phase, a triggerpulse must be generated from a certain reference point on the shaft. This trigger can be generated by a tachometer or some type of optical or magnetic probe that senses a discontinuity on the rotor, and is sometimes called a "tach" pulse.

Phase of a Rotor


The phase angle can be measured from the reference position either in the direction of rotation or opposite to the direction of rotation, i.e., phase lag or lead, and different equipment manufacturers use different conventions. In the DLI Balance program software for the DC-7, either direction may be selected at the operator's preference.

Vibration Units
So far, we have been looking at the displacement of a vibrating object as a measure of its vibration amplitude. The displacement is simply the distance from a reference position, or equilibrium point. In addition to varying displacement, a vibrating object will experience a varying velocity and a varying acceleration. Velocity is defined as the rate of change of displacement, and in the English system is usually measured in units of inches per second. Acceleration is defined as the rate of change of velocity, and in the English system, is usually measured in units of G, or the average acceleration due to gravity at the earth's surface. The displacement of a body undergoing simple harmonic motion is a sine wave as we have seen. It also turns out (and is easily proved mathematically), that the velocity of the motion is sinusoidal. When the displacement is at a maximum, the velocity will be zero because that is the position at which its direction of motion reverses. When the displacement is zero (the equilibrium point), the velocity will be at a maximum. This means that the phase of velocity waveform will be displaced to the left by 90 degrees compared to the displacement waveform. In other words, the velocity is said to lead the displacement by a 90-degree phase angle. Remembering that acceleration is the rate of change of velocity, it can be shown that the acceleration waveform of an object undergoing simple harmonic motion is also sinusoidal, and also that when the velocity is at a maximum, the acceleration is zero. In other words, the velocity is not changing at this instant. Then, when the velocity is zero, the acceleration is at a maximum -- the velocity is changing the fastest at this instant. The sine curve of acceleration versus time is thus seen to be 90 degrees phase shifted to the left of the velocity curve, and therefore acceleration leads velocity by 90 degrees. These relationships are shown here:

' Note here that the acceleration is 180 degrees out of phase with the displacement. This means the acceleration of a vibrating object is always in the opposite direction to the displacement! It is possible to define another parameter that is the rate of change of acceleration, and it is called "jerk". Jerk is what you feel when your car comes to a stop if you maintain a constant brake pedal


pressure. It is really the sudden cessation of the deceleration. Elevator manufacturers are interested in measuring jerk, for it is the variation in acceleration that elevator passengers are especially sensitive to.

Summary of Amplitude Units:
In the English system of measurements, displacement is usually measured in mils (thousandths of an inch), and the peak-to-peak value is used by convention. Velocity is usually measured in inches per second, and the convention is to use the peak value or the RMS value. The peak value is the most commonly used, not because it is better, but because of long tradition. Acceleration is usually measured in Gs, where 1 G is the acceleration due to gravity at the earth's surface. The G is not actually an acceleration unit -- it is simply an amount of acceleration we experience as inhabitants of the earth. Acceleration is sometimes measured in inches per second per second (in/sec2), or m/sec2, that are true units. One G is equal to 386 inches/sec2 or 9.81 meters/sec2. The process of converting a signal from displacement to velocity or velocity to acceleration is equivalent to the mathematical operation of differentiation. Conversely, the conversion from acceleration to velocity or velocity to displacement is mathematical integration. It is possible to perform these operations in vibration measuring instruments and thus to convert from any system of units to any other one. From a practical standpoint however, differentiation is an inherently noisy process, and is seldom done. Integration, on the other hand, can be done very accurately with inexpensive electrical circuitry. This is one reason that the accelerometer is the de facto standard transducer for vibration measurement, for its output is easily integrated once or twice in order to display velocity or displacement. Integration is not suitable, however, for signals of very low frequencies (Below 1 Hz), for in this region the noise level increases and the accuracy of the integration process itself suffers. Most commercially available integrators operate correctly above one Hz, which is sufficiently low for almost all vibration applications.

Displacement, Velocity and Acceleration
A vibration signal plotted as displacement vs. frequency can be This means that a plot of vibration converted into a plot of velocity vs. frequency by a process of velocity will slope upwards as differentiation, as we have defined earlier. Differentiation involves frequency rises compared to the a multiplication by frequency, and this means the vibration same signal plotted as velocity at any frequency is proportional to the displacement displacement. times the frequency. For a given displacement, if the frequency is doubled, the velocity will also double, and if the frequency is increased tenfold, the velocity is also increased by a factor of ten. In order to obtain acceleration from velocity, another differentiation is required, and this results in another multiplication by frequency. The result is that for a given displacement, the acceleration is proportional to the frequency squared. This means that the acceleration curve slopes upward twice as steeply as the velocity curve. To illustrate these relationships, consider how easy it is to move your hand back and forth over a distance of one foot at one cycle per second, or 1 Hz.. It might be possible to attain the same hand displacement at 5 or 6 Hz. But consider how fast your hand would be moving if it had the same 1 foot displacement at 100 Hz, or 1000 Hz! Now consider the great force that would be required to move your hand a


Newton's second law of motion states that force equals mass times acceleration.

foot at these higher frequencies. Force equals mass times acceleration according to Newton, so the force required goes up as the square of the frequency. This is the reason we never see high acceleration levels combined with high displacement values. The very large forces that would be required are simply not found in practice.

From these considerations, it can be seen that the same vibration data plotted in displacement, velocity, and acceleration will have very different appearances. The displacement curve will greatly emphasize the lowest frequencies, and the acceleration curve will greatly emphasize the highest frequencies at the expense of the lowest ones. The relationship between levels of displacement, velocity, and acceleration versus frequency in standard English units of mils peak-to-peak, inches per second peak, and G RMS are expressed by the following equations:


The three curves shown above display the same information, but the emphasis is changed. Note that the displacement curve is difficult to read at higher frequencies, and acceleration has enhanced higher frequency levels. The velocity curve is the most uniform in level over frequency. This is typical of most rotating machinery, but in some cases the displacement or acceleration curves will be the most uniform. It is a good idea to select the units so the flattest curve is attained -- this provides the most visual information to the observer. Velocity is the most commonly used vibration parameter for machine diagnostic work.

Complex Vibration
In a linear mechanical system, all the vibration components will exist together, and none will interfere with any other. In the case of a nonlinear system, the vibration components will Vibration is the motion resulting from an oscillating force, and for a linear mechanical system, the vibration frequency will be the same as the forcing frequency. If there are several


interact and generate new components which are not in the forcing function. See also the section on linear systems in the Machine Monitoring chapter.

forcing frequencies occurring at the same time, then the resulting vibration will be a summation of the vibration at each frequency. Under these conditions the resulting waveform of the vibration will not be a sinusoid, and may be very complex.

Certain machines, especially very slow speed ones, produce vibration wave forms that are relatively easy to interpret directly. See also the section on Time Domain Analysis in the Machinery Monitoring chapter.

In the diagram, the high frequency and the low frequency vibration add together to make the complex waveform. In simple cases like this, it is relatively easy to find the frequencies and amplitudes of the two components by examination of the wave form, but most vibration signals are far more complex than this, and can be extremely difficult to interpret. In a typical rotating machine, it is often hard to get very much information about the inner workings of the machine by looking at the vibration wave form, although in certain cases wave form analysis is a powerful tool, as will be discussed in the chapter on machine vibration monitoring.

Energy and Power Considerations
Energy is required to produce vibration and in the case of machine vibration, this energy comes from the source of power to the machine. This energy source can be the AC power line, an internal combustion engine, or steam driving a turbine, etc. Energy is defined as force multiplied by the distance over which the force acts, and the SI unit of energy is the Joule. One Joule of energy is equivalent to a force of one Newton acting over a distance of one meter. The physical concept of work is similar to that of energy, and the units used to measure work are the same as those for measuring energy.


The actual amount of energy present in the machine vibration itself is usually not very great compared to the energy required to operate the machine for its intended task. Power is defined as the rate of doing work, or the rate of energy transfer, and according to the SI, it is measured in Joules per second, or Watts. One horsepower is equivalent to 746 watts. Power is proportional to the square of the vibration amplitude, just as electrical power is proportional to the voltage squared or the current squared. According to the law of conservation of energy, energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transformed into different forms. The vibratory energy in a mechanical system is ultimately dissipated in the form of heat.

Mechanical Structures
In analyzing the vibration of a machine, which is a more or less complex mechanical system, it is useful to consider the sources of vibration energy and the paths in the machine that this energy takes. Energy always moves, or flows, from the source of the vibration to the energy absorber where it is converted into heat. In some cases, this may be a very short path, but in other situations, the energy may travel relatively long distances before being absorbed. The most important absorber of energy in a machine is friction, which can be sliding friction or viscous friction. Sliding friction is represented by relative motion between parts of the machine, and an example of viscous friction is the oil film in a journal bearing. If a machine has very little friction, its vibration level tends to be fairly high, for the vibration energy builds up due to the lack of absorption. On the other hand, a machine with greater inherent friction will have lower vibration levels because the energy is absorbed quickly. For example, a machine with rolling element bearings (often called anti-friction bearings), generally vibrates more than a machine with sleeve bearings, where the oil film acts as a significant absorber of energy. The reason that airplane structures are riveted together rather than being welded into a solid unit is that the riveted joints move slightly, absorbing energy by sliding friction. This keeps vibrations from building up to destructive levels. Such a structure is said to be highly damped, and the damping is actually a measure of its energy absorption capability.

Natural Frequencies
Any physical structure can be modeled as a number of springs, masses, and dampers. Dampers absorb energy, but springs and masses do not. As we saw in the previous section, a spring and a mass interact with one another to form a system that resonates at their characteristic natural frequency. If energy is applied to a spring-mass system, it will vibrate at its natural frequency, and the level of the vibration depends on the strength of the energy source as well as the absorption or damping inherent in the system. The natural frequency of an undamped spring-mass system is given by the following equation:

where Fn = The natural frequency k = the spring constant, or stiffness m = the mass


From this, it is seen that if the stiffness increases, the natural frequency also increases, and if the mass increases, the natural frequency decreases. If the system has damping, which all physical systems do, its natural frequency is a little lower, and depends on the amount of damping. The multitude of spring-mass-damper systems that make up a mechanical system are called "degrees of freedom", and the vibration energy put into a machine will distribute itself among the degrees of freedom in amounts depending on their natural frequencies and damping, and on the frequency of the energy source. For this reason, the vibration will not be uniformly distributed in the machine. For instance, in a machine driven by an electric motor, a major source of vibration energy is residual imbalance in the motor rotor. This will result in a measurable vibration at the motor bearings. But if the machine has a degree of freedom with a natural frequency close to the RPM of the rotor, its vibration level can be very high, even though it may be a long distance from the motor. It is important to be aware of this fact when evaluating the vibration of a machine -- the location of the maximum vibration level may not be close to the source of the vibration energy. Vibration energy frequently travels great distances along pipes, and can wreak havoc when it encounters a remote structure with a natural frequency near that of its source.

Resonance is an operating condition where an excitation frequency Examples of highly resonant is near a natural frequency of the machine structure. A natural mechanical systems are frequency is a frequency at which a structure will vibrate if bells and tuning forks. deflected and then let go. A typical structure will have many

natural frequencies. When resonance occurs, the resulting vibration levels can be very high and can cause rapid damage. In a machine that produces a broad spectrum of vibration energy, a resonance shows up in the vibration spectrum as a peak whose frequency is constant even as the machine speed is varied. The peak may be quite sharp, or may be broad; depending on the amount of effective damping the structure has at the frequency in question. In order to determine if a machine has prominent resonances, one of several tests can be performed to find them:

Under no circumstances should a machine be operated at a speed corresponding to a resonance!

The "Bump Test" -- The machine is impacted with a heavy mass such as a wooden four by four or the booted heel of the foot of a football player while recording vibration data. If a resonance is there, the machine vibration will be at the natural frequency as it dies away. The "Run Up" or "Coast Down" -- The machine is turned on, or turned off, while taking vibration data and tachometer data. The time wave form will show maxima when the RPM matches natural frequencies. "Variable Speed Test" -- With a machine whose speed can be varied over a wide range, the speed can be varied while taking vibration and tachometer data. The data are interpreted as in the run up test. The figure below shows an idealized response curve of a mechanical resonance. The behavior of a resonant system when subjected to an external force is interesting and somewhat counter intuitive. It depends strongly on the frequency of the excitation force. If the forcing frequency is lower than the natural frequency -- in other words to the left of the peak -- then the system behaves like a spring, and the displacement is proportional to the force. The spring of the spring-mass combination making up the resonant system is dominant in determining the response of the system. In this spring-controlled region, the system behaves in agreement with our intuition, responding with greater motion as greater force is applied to it, and the motion is in phase with the force.


In the region above the natural frequency, the situation is different. Here, the mass is the controlling element, and the system looks like a mass to an input force. This means its acceleration is proportional to the applied force, and the displacement is relatively constant with changing frequency. The displacement is out of phase with the force in this region -- when you push against the system, it moves toward you and vice versa! At the resonance itself, the system looks completely different to an applied force. Here, the mass and spring elements effectively cancel each other out, and the force sees only the damping, or friction, in the system. If the system is lightly damped, it is like pushing on air. When you push on it, it recedes from you on its own. Consequently, you cannot apply much force to the system at resonance, and if you continue to try, the vibration amplitude builds up to very high values. It is the damping that controls the motion of a resonant system at its natural frequency.

Examples of resonances in machines are the so-called critical frequencies of rotating shafts. The phase angle between the excitation source vibration and the response of the structure is always 90 degrees at the natural frequency In the case of long rotors such as turbines, the natural frequencies are called "critical frequencies" or "critical speeds," and care must be taken that these machines are not operated at speeds where 1X or 2X correspond to these critical frequencies.

Linear and Non-Linear Systems
To assist in understanding the transmission of vibration through a machine, it is instructive to investigate the concept of linearity and what is meant by linear and non-linear systems. Thus far, we have discussed linear and logarithmic amplitude and frequency scales, but the term "linear" also refers to the characteristics of a system which can have input and output signals. A "system" is any device or structure that can accept an input or stimulus in some form and produce a corresponding output or response. Examples of systems are tape recorders and amplifiers, which operate on electrical signals, and mechanical structures, whose inputs are vibration forces, and whose outputs are vibration displacements, velocities, or accelerations.



Definition of Linearity Non-Linearities in Systems Non-Linearities in Rotating Machines

Definition of Linearity
A system is said to be linear if it meets the following two criteria: 1. If input x to the system results in output X, then an input of 2x will produce output of 2X. In other words, the magnitude of the system output is proportional to the magnitude of the system input. 2. If input x produces output X, and input y produces output Y, then an input of x + y will produce an output of X + Y. In other words, the system handles two simultaneous inputs independently, and they do not interact within the system. Implicit in these criteria is the fact that a linear system will not produce any frequencies in the output that are not present in the input. Note that there is nothing in these criteria that says the system output is the same as the system input, or even that it resembles the system input. For instance, the input could be an electric current, and the output could be a temperature. In the case of mechanical structures such as machines, we will consider the input to be a vibratory force and the output to be the measured vibration itself.

Non-Linearities in Systems
Absolutely perfect linearity does not exist in any real system. There are many different types of nonlinearity, and they exist in varying degrees in all mechanical systems, although many actual systems approach linear behavior, especially with small input levels. If a system is not perfectly linear, it will produce frequencies in its output that do not exist in its input. An example of this is a stereo amplifier or tape recorder that produces harmonics of its input signal. This is called "harmonic distortion", and it degrades the quality of the music being reproduced. Harmonic distortion almost always gets much worse at high signal levels. An example of this is a small radio that sounds relatively "clean" at low volume levels, but sounds harsh and distorted at high volume levels. Many systems are very nearly linear in response to small inputs, but become non-linear at higher levels of excitation. Sometimes a definite threshold exists in which input levels only a little above the threshold result in gross non-linearity. An example of this is the "clipping" of an amplifier when its input signal level exceeds the voltage or current swing capacity of its power supply. This is analogous to a mechanical system where a part is free to move until it hits a stop, such as a loose bearing housing that can move a little before being stopped by the mounting bolts.

Non-Linearities in Rotating Machines
As has been discussed, the vibration of a machine is actually its response to forces caused by moving parts in the machine. We measure the vibration at various locations on the machine, and deduce from these vibrations the magnitude of the forces. In measuring the frequency of the vibration, we assume the forces occur at the same frequency as the response, and that the measured levels are proportional to the magnitudes of the forces. This rationale assumes that the machine is linear in its response to forcing functions, and this is a reasonable assumption for most machines. However, as a machine wears and clearances increase, or if it develops cracks or loose parts, its response will no longer be linear, and the result is that the measured vibration can be quite different


in character from the forcing functions. For instance, an unbalanced rotor imparts a sinusoidal force at a frequency of 1X to the bearing, and this force does not contain any other frequency. If the mechanical structure of the machine is non-linear, this sinusoidal force will be distorted, and the resulting vibration will occur at harmonics of 1X as well as 1X. The extent and magnitude of the harmonic content of the vibration is a measure of the degree of non-linearity of the machine. For instance, the vibration of a journal bearing contains greater and greater numbers and magnitudes of harmonics as the bearing clearance increases. Flexible couplings are non-linear when misaligned, and this is the reason their vibration signature contains a strong second harmonic of 1X. Worn couplings that are misaligned often produce a strong third harmonic of 1X. When forces acting at different frequencies interact in a non-linear way in a machine, the result is the generation of sum and difference frequencies -- new frequencies that are not present in the forcing functions themselves. These sum and difference frequencies are the sidebands found in spectra of defective gearboxes, rolling element bearings, etc. In the case of a gearbox, one forcing frequency is the gear mesh and another is the rpm of the gear. If the gear is eccentric or otherwise misshapen, the rpm will modulate the gear mesh resulting in sidebands. Modulation is always a non-linear process, creating new frequencies that do not exist in the forcing functions.

Frequency Analysis
To get around the limitations in the analysis of the wave form itself, the common practice is to perform frequency analysis, also called spectrum analysis, on the vibration signal. The time domain graph is called the waveform, and the frequency domain graph is called the spectrum. Spectrum analysis is equivalent to transforming the information in the signal from the time domain into the frequency domain. The following relationships hold between time and frequency:

A train schedule shows the equivalence of information in the time and frequency domains:


The frequency representation in this case is much shorter than the time representation. This is a "data reduction". Note that the information is the same in both domains, but that it is much more compact in the frequency domain. A very long schedule in time has been compressed to two lines in the frequency domain. It is a general rule of the transformation characteristic that events that take place over a long time interval are compressed to specific locations in the frequency domain.

Why perform Frequency Analysis? How to perform Frequency Analysis Examples of some wave forms and their spectra Modulation Effects Beats

Why perform Frequency Analysis?
In the figure below, note that the individual frequency components are separate and distinct in the spectrum, and that their levels are easily identified. It would be difficult to extract this information from the time domain waveform.

It has been argued that the primary reason for the widespread use of frequency analysis is the wide availability of the inexpensive FFT analyzer!

In the next figure, we see that events that are overlapped and confused in the time domain are separated into individual components in the frequency domain. The vibration waveform contains a great deal of information that is not apparent to the eye. Some of the information is in very low-level components whose magnitude may be less than the width of the line of the waveform plot. Nevertheless, such very low-level components may be important if they indicate a developing problem such as a bearing fault. The essence of predictive maintenance is the early detection of incipient faults, so we must be sensitive to very small values of vibration signals, as we will see shortly.


In the next figure, a very low-level component represents a small developing fault in a bearing, and it would have been unnoticed in the time domain or in the overall vibration level. Remember that the overall level is simply the RMS level of the vibration waveform over a broad frequency range, and that a small disturbance such as the bearing tone shown here could double or quadruple in level before the overall RMS would be affected.

On the other hand, there are circumstances where the waveform provides more information to the analyst than does the spectrum.

How to perform Frequency Analysis


Before we investigate the procedure of performing spectrum analysis, we will look at the various types of signals we will be working with. From a theoretical and practical standpoint, it is possible to divide all time domain signals into several groups. These different signal types produce different types of spectra, and to avoid errors in performing frequency analysis, it is instructive to know their characteristics.

Stationary Signals Deterministic Signals Non-Stationary Signals

Stationary Signals
The first natural division of all signals is into either stationary or non-stationary categories. Stationary signals are constant in their statistical parameters over time. If you look at a stationary signal for a few moments and then wait an hour and look at it again, it would look essentially the same, i.e. its overall level would be about the same and its amplitude distribution and standard deviation would be about the same. Rotating machinery generally produces stationary vibration signals. Stationary signals are further divided into deterministic and random signals. Random signals are unpredictable in their frequency content and their amplitude level, but they still have relatively uniform statistical characteristics over time. Examples of random signals are rain falling on a roof, jet engine noise, turbulence in pump flow patterns and cavitation.

Deterministic Signals
Deterministic signals are a special class of stationary signals, and they have a relatively constant frequency and level content over a long time period. Deterministic signals are generated by rotating machines, musical instruments, and electronic function generators. They are further divisible into periodic and quasi-periodic signals. Periodic signals have waveforms whose pattern repeats at equal increments of time, whereas quasi-periodic signals have waveforms whose repetition rate varies over time, but still appears to the eye to be periodic. Sometimes, rotating machines will produce quasiperiodic signals, especially belt-driven equipment. Deterministic signals are probably the most important in vibration analysis and their spectra resemble the following:


Periodic signals always produce spectra with discrete frequency Most quasi-periodic signals are components that are a harmonic series. The term "harmonic" comes actually a combination of from music, where harmonics are multiples of the fundamental several harmonic series. frequency.

Non-Stationary Signals
Non-stationary signals are divided into continuous and transient types. Examples of non-stationary continuous signals are the vibration produced by a jackhammer and the sound of a fireworks display. Transient signals are defined as signals which start and end at zero level and last a finite amount of time. They may be very short, or quite long. Examples of transient signals are a hammer blow, an airplane flyover noise, or a vibration signature of a machine run up or run down.

Examples of some wave forms and their spectra
Following are some waveforms and spectra that illustrate some important characteristics of frequency analysis. While these are idealized in the sense that they were made from an electronic function generator and analyzed with an FFT analyzer, they do show certain attributes that are commonly seen in machine vibration spectra.


A sine wave consists of a single frequency only, and its spectrum is a single point. Theoretically, a sine wave exists over infinite time and never changes. The mathematical transform that converts the time domain waveform into the frequency domain is called the Fourier transform, and it compresses all the information in the sine wave over infinite time into one point. The fact that the peak in the spectrum shown above has a finite width is an artifact of the FFT analysis, which will be discussed later. A machine with imbalance has an excitation force that is a sine wave at 1X, or once per revolution. If the machine were perfectly linear in response, the resulting vibration would be a pure sine wave like the one shown above. In many poorly balanced machines, the waveform does resemble a sine wave, and there is a large vibration peak in the spectrum at 1X, or one order.


Here we see that a harmonic spectrum results from a periodic waveform, in this case a "clipped" sine wave. The spectrum contains equally spaced components, and their spacing is equal to 1 divided by the period of the waveform. The lowest of the components above zero frequency is called the fundamental, and the others are called harmonics. This waveform came from a signal generator, and it can be seen that it is not symmetrical about the zero line. This means it has a "DC." component, and this is seen as the first line at the left in the spectrum. This is to illustrate that a spectrum analysis can go all the way to zero frequency, or in common terminology, to DC. In vibration analysis of machinery, it is not usually desirable to include such low frequencies in the spectrum analysis for several reasons. Most vibration transducers do not have response to DC, although there are accelerometers that are used in inertial navigation systems that do have DC response. For machine vibration, the lowest frequency that is generally considered of interest is about 0.3 orders. In some machines this will be below 1Hz. Special techniques are required to measure and interpret signals below this frequency. Note that because this spectrum consists of discrete points, the signal is by definition deterministic! It is not uncommon in machine vibration signatures to see a waveform which is clipped something like the one shown above. What this usually means is there is looseness in the machine, and something is restricting its motion in one direction.

The signal shown above is similar to the previous one, but it is clipped on both positive and negative sides, resulting in a symmetrical waveform. This type of signal can occur in machine vibration if there is looseness in the machine and motion is restricted in both directions. The spectrum seems to have harmonics, but they are actually only the odd-numbered harmonics. All the even-numbered harmonics are missing. Any periodic waveform that is symmetrical will have a spectrum with only odd harmonics! The spectrum of a square wave would also look like this. Sometimes the vibration spectrum of a machine will resemble this if there is extreme looseness and the motion of the vibrating part is restricted at each extreme of displacement. An unbalanced machine with a loose hold-down bolt is an example of this.


Shown above is a short impulse produced by a signal generator. Note that its spectrum is continuous rather than discrete. In other words, the energy in the spectrum is spread out continuously over a range of frequencies rather than being concentrated only at specific frequencies. This is characteristic of non-deterministic signals such as random noise and transients. Note that the level of the spectrum goes to zero at a particular frequency. This frequency is the reciprocal of the length of the impulse, therefore the shorter the impulse, the greater its high frequency content. If the impulse were infinitely short (the so-called delta function, in mathematics), then its spectrum would extend from 0 to infinity in frequency. By examining a continuous spectrum, it is usually impossible to tell whether it is the result of a random signal or a transient. This is an inherent limitation of Fourier-type frequency analysis, and for this reason it is a good idea to look at the wave form when a continuous spectrum is encountered. As far as machine vibration is concerned, it is of interest to the analyst whether impacting is occurring (causing impulses in the wave form) or random noise (for example, from cavitation) exists in the signal. A rotating machine seldom produces a single impulse like this, but in the "bump test", this type of excitation is applied to the machine. Its vibration response will not be a classic smooth curve like this one, but it will be continuous with peaks corresponding to the natural frequencies of the machine structure. This spectrum shows that the impulse is a good input force to use in this type of test, for it contains energy over a continuous frequency range.


If the same impulse that produced the previous spectrum is repeated at a constant rate, the resulting spectrum will have an overall envelope with the same shape as the spectrum of the single impulse, but it will consist of harmonics of the pulse repetition frequency rather than a continuous spectrum. A bearing produces this type of signal with a definite defect in one of the races. The impulses can be very narrow, and they will always produce an extensive series of harmonics.

Modulation Effects
Modulation is a non-linear effect in which several signals interact with one another to produce new signals with frequencies not present in the original signals. Modulation effects are the bane of the audio engineer, for they produce "intermodulation distortion", which is annoying to the music listener. There are many forms of modulation, including frequency and amplitude modulation, and the subject is quite complex. We will now look at the two primary types of modulation individually.


It is rare to see frequency modulation by itself; most machines will produce amplitude modulation at the same time as frequency modulation!

Frequency modulation (FM) is the varying in frequency of one signal by the influence of another signal, usually of lower frequency. The frequency being modulated is called the "carrier". In the spectrum shown above, the largest component is the carrier, and the other components which look like harmonics, are called "sidebands". These sidebands are symmetrically located on either side of the carrier, and their spacing is equal to the modulating frequency.

Frequency modulation occurs in machine vibration spectra, especially in gearboxes where the gear mesh frequency is modulated by the rpm of the gear. It also occurs in some sound system loudspeakers, where it is called FM distortion, although it is generally at a very low level.


This example shows amplitude modulation at about 50% of full modulation Notice that the frequency of the waveform seems to be constant and that it is fluctuating up and down in level at a constant rate. This test signal was produced by rapidly varying the gain control on a function generator while recording the signal. This type of signal is often produced by defective bearings and gears, and can be easily identified by the sidebands in the spectrum. The spectrum has a peak at the frequency of the carrier, and two more components on each side. These extra components are the sidebands. Note that there are only two sidebands here compared to the great number produced by frequency modulation. The sidebands are spaced away from the carrier at the frequency of the modulating signal, in this case at the frequency at which the control knob was wiggled. In this example, the modulating frequency is much lower than the modulated or carrier frequency, but the two frequencies are often close together in practical situations. Also these frequencies are sine waves, but in practice, both the modulated and modulating signals are often complex. For instance, the transmitted signal from an AM radio station contains a highfrequency carrier, and many sidebands resulting from the carrier modulation by the voice or music signal being broadcast. A vibration and acoustic signature similar to this is frequently produced by electric motors with rotor bar problems.


This waveform looks like amplitude modulation, but is It is almost impossible to tell beating from actually just two sine wave signals added together to amplitude modulation by looking at the form beats. Because the signals are slightly different in


waveform, but they are fundamentally different processes, caused by different phenomena in machines. The spectrum tells the story.

frequency, their relative phase varies from zero to 360 degrees, and this means the combined amplitude varies due to reinforcement and partial cancellation. The spectrum shows the frequency and amplitude of each component, and there are no sidebands present. In this example, the amplitudes of the two beating signals are different, causing incomplete cancellation at the null points between the maxima. Beating is a linear process -- no additional frequency components are created.

Electric motors often produce sound and vibration signatures that resemble beating, where the beat rate is at twice the slip frequency. This is not actually beating, but is in fact amplitude modulation of the vibration signature at twice the slip frequency. Probably it has been called beating because it sounds somewhat like the beats present in the sound of an out of tune musical instrument. The following example of beats shows the combined waveform when the two beating signals are the same amplitude. At first glance, this looks like 100% amplitude modulation, but close inspection of the minimum amplitude area shows that the phase is reversed at that point.

' This looks like 100% amplitude modulation! This example of beats is like the previous one, but the levels of the two signals are the same, and they cancel completely at the nulls. This complete cancellation is quite rare in actual signals encountered in rotating equipment.


Earlier we learned that beats and amplitude modulation produce similar waveforms. This is true, but there is a subtle difference. These waveforms are enlarged for clarity. Note that in the case of beats, there is a phase change at the point where cancellation is complete.

Octave Band and One-Third Octave Band Analysis
Logarithmic Frequency Scaling

Logarithmic Frequency Scaling
So far, the only type of frequency analysis discussed has been on a linear frequency scale, i.e., the frequency axis is set out in a linear fashion. This is suitable for frequency analysis with a frequency resolution that is constant throughout the frequency range, commonly called "narrow band" analysis. The FFT analyzer performs this type of analysis. There are several situations where frequency analysis is desired, but narrow band analysis does not present the data in its most useful form. An example of this is acoustic noise analysis where the annoyance value of the noise to a human observer is being studied. The human hearing mechanism is responsive to frequency ratios rather than actual frequencies. The frequency of a sound determines its pitch as perceived by a listener, and a frequency ratio of two is a perceived pitch change of one octave, no matter what the actual frequencies are. For instance if a sound of 100 Hz frequency is raised to 200 Hz, its pitch will rise one octave, and a sound of 1000 Hz, when raised to 2000 Hz, will also rise one octave in pitch. This fact is so precisely true over a wide frequency range that it is convenient to define the octave as a frequency ratio of two, even though the octave itself is really a subjective measure of a sound pitch change. This phenomenon can be summarized by saying that the pitch perception of the ear is proportional to the logarithm of frequency rather than to frequency itself. Therefore, it makes sense to express the frequency axis of acoustic spectra on a log frequency axis, and this is almost universally done. For instance, the frequency response curves that sound equipment manufacturers publish are always


plotted in log frequency. Likewise, when frequency analysis of sound is performed, it is very common to use log frequency plots. The octave is such an important frequency interval to the ear that so-called The vertical axis of an octave band analysis has been defined as a standard for acoustic analysis. octave band spectrum The figure below shows a typical octave band spectrum where the ISO is usually scaled in standard center frequencies of the octave bands are used. Each octave band dB. has a bandwidth equal to about 70% of it center frequency. This type of spectrum is called constant percentage band because each frequency band has a width that is a constant percentage of its center frequency. In other words, the analysis bands become wider in proportion to their center frequencies.

It can be argued that the frequency resolution in octave band analysis is too poor to be of much use, especially in analyzing machine vibration signatures, but it is possible to define constant percentage band analysis with frequency bands of narrower width. A common example of this is the one-thirdoctave spectrum, whose filter bandwidths are about 27 % of their center frequencies. Three onethird octave bands span one octave, so the resolution of such a spectrum is three times better than the octave band spectrum. One-third octave spectra are frequently used in acoustical measurements. A major advantage of constant percentage band analysis is that a very wide frequency range can be displayed on a single graph and the frequency resolution at the lower frequencies can still be fairly narrow. Of course, the frequency resolution at the highest frequencies suffers, but this is not a problem for some applications such as fault detection in machines. In the chapter on machine fault diagnosis, it will be seen the narrow band spectra are very useful in resolving higher-frequency harmonics and sidebands, but for the detection of a machine fault, no such high resolution is required. The vibration velocity spectra of most machines will be found to slope downwards at the highest frequencies, and a constant percentage band (CPB) spectrum of the same data will usually be more uniform in level over a broad frequency range. This means that a CPB spectrum takes better advantage of the dynamic range of the instrumentation. One-third octave spectra are sufficiently narrow at low frequencies to show the first few harmonics of run speed, and can be used effectively for the detection of faults if trended over time. The use of constant CPB spectra for machine monitoring is not very well recognized in industry with a few notable exceptions such as the US Navy submarine fleet.

Linear and Logarithmic Amplitude Scales
It may seem to be best to look at vibration spectra with a linear amplitude scale because that is a true representation of the actual measured vibration amplitude. Linear amplitude scaling makes the


largest components in a spectrum very easy to see and to evaluate, but very small components may be overlooked completely, or are at best difficult to assign a magnitude to. The eye is able to see small components about 1/50th as large as the largest ones in the same spectrum, but anything smaller than this is essentially lost. In other words, the dynamic range of the eye is about 50 to 1 Linear scaling may be adequate in cases where the components are all about the same size, but in the case of machine vibration, beginning faults in such parts as bearings produce very small signal amplitudes. If we are to do a good job of trending the levels of these spectral components, it is best to plot the logarithm of the amplitude rather than the amplitude itself. In this way, we can easily display and visually interpret a dynamic range of at least 5000 to 1, or more than 100 times better than the linear scaling allows. To illustrate different types of amplitude presentations, the same vibration signature will be shown in linear and two different types of logarithmic amplitude scales. It might be said that the dynamic range of the eye, when looking at linear spectra, is about 34 dB.

Linear Amplitude Scaling Logarithmic Amplitude Scaling The Decibel dB Values vs. Amplitude Level Ratios Unit Conversions VdB Levels vs. Vibration Levels in ips

Linear Amplitude Scaling

Note that this linear spectrum shows the larger peaks very well, but lower level information is missing. In the case of machine vibration analysis, we are often interested in the smaller components of the spectrum, i.e., in the case of rolling element bearing diagnosis. This subject will be covered in detail in the chapter on Machine Vibration Monitoring.

Logarithmic Amplitude Scaling


the logarithm of the vibration level rather than the level itself.

The spectrum above plots

Since this spectrum is on a log amplitude scale, multiplication by any constant value simply translates the spectrum up on the screen without changing its shape or the relationship between the components. Multiplication of the signal level translates into addition on a log scale. This means that if the amount of amplification of a vibration signal is changed, the shape of the spectrum is not affected. This fact greatly simplifies visual interpretation of log spectra taken at different amplification factors -- the curves are simply translated up or down on the graph. With a linear scaling, the shape of the spectrum changes drastically with different degrees of amplification. The next spectrum is presented in decibels, a special type of log scaling that is very important in vibration analysis

The Decibel


The decibel (dB) is defined by the following expression:

where: LdB = The signal level in dB L1 = Vibration level in Acceleration, Velocity, or Displacement Lref = Reference level, equivalent to 0 dB The Bell Telephone Labs introduced the concept of the decibel before 1930. It was first used to measure relative power loss and signal to noise ratio in telephone lines. It was soon pressed into service as a measure of acoustic sound pressure level. The vibration velocity level in dB is abbreviated VdB, and is defined as:



The Systeme Internationale, or SI, is the modern replacement for the metric system.

The reference, or "0 dB" level of 10-9 meter per sec is sufficiently small that all our measurements on machines will result in positive dB numbers. this standardized reference level uses the SI, or "metric," system units, but it is not recognized as a standard in the US and other English-speaking countries. (The US. Navy and many American industries use a zero dB reference of 10-8 m/sec, making their readings higher than SI readings by 20 dB.)

The VdB is a logarithmic scaling of vibration magnitude, and it allows relative measurements to be easily made. Any increase in level of 6 dB represents a doubling of amplitude, regardless of the initial level. In like manner, any change of 20 dB represents a change in level by a factor of ten. Thus any constant ratio of levels is seen as a certain distance on the scale, regardless of the absolute levels of the measurements. This makes it very easy to evaluate trended vibration spectral data; 6 dB increases always indicate doubling of the magnitudes.

dB Values vs. Amplitude Level Ratios
The following table relates dB values to amplitude ratios: dB Change
0 3 6 10 12 18 20 24

Linear Level Ratio
1 1.4 2 3.1 4 8 10 16

dB Change
30 36 40 50 60 70 80 100

Linear Level Ratio
31 60 100 310 1000 3100 10,000 100,000

It is strongly recommended that VdB be used as the vibration amplitude scaling because so much more information is available to the viewer compared to linear amplitude units. Also, compared to a conventional log scale, the dB scale is much easier to read.

Unit Conversions
Acceleration and Displacement can also be expressed on dB scales. The AdB scale is the most used one, and its zero reference is set 1 micro G, commonly abbreviated G.


It turns out that AdB = VdB at 159.2 Hz. VdB levels, AdB levels, and DdB levels are related by the following formulas: Any vibration parameter -displacement, velocity, or acceleration can be displayed on a dB scale. The reference quantities for 0 dB on these scales were chosen such that the dB levels of all three quantities are the same at a frequency of 159.2 Hz, which is equal to 1000 radians per second.

Acceleration and Velocity in linear units are calculated from dB levels as follows:

It is convenient to remember the following rule of thumb: At 100 Hz, 1G = 120 AdB = 124 VdB = 2.8 mils p-p.

Note that the time domain wave form is always represented in linear amplitude units - it is not possible to use a log scale in the wave form plot because some of the values are negative, and the logarithm of a negative number is not defined.

VdB Levels vs. Vibration Levels in ips
Peak level is the de facto Following is a convenient conversion table for relating VdB levels standard unit for vibration to inches per second peak: velocity measurements, even though RMS level would make more sense in most cases.

60 62 64

ips peak
.0006 .0007 .0009

90 92 94

ips peak
.018 .022 .028

120 122 124

ips peak
.56 .70 .88


66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88

.0011 .0014 .0018 .0022 .0028 .0035 .0044 .0056 .0070 .0088 .011 .014

96 98 100 102 104 106 108 110 112 114 116 118

.035 .044 .056 .070 .088 .11 .14 .18 .22 .28 .35 .44

126 128 130 132 134 136 138 140 142 144 146 148

1.1 1.4 1.8 2.2 2.8 3.5 4.4 5.6 7.0 8.8 11.1 14.0

Vibration Transducers

The vibration transducer is a device that produces an electric signal An early vibration that is a replica, or analog, of the vibratory motion it is subjected transducer is the human to. A good transducer should not add any spurious components to finger! An earlier, and much the signal, and should produce signals uniformly over the more sensitive one is the frequency range of interest. lateral line organ of the fishes.

Different types of transducers respond to different parameters of the vibration source, as shown in the following table: Name: Sensitive To:


Proximity Probe Velocity Probe Accelerometer

Displacement Velocity Acceleration

On the following pages, we will examine the characteristics of these transducers.

The Proximity Probe The Velocity Probe The Accelerometer

The Proximity Probe
One very common type of proximity probe is known commercially as a "Proximiter", which is a trademark of the Bentley Nevada Company. The Proximity Probe, also called an "Eddy Current Probe" or "Displacement Transducer", is a permanently mounted unit, and requires a signal-conditioning amplifier to generate an output voltage proportional to the distance between the transducer end and the shaft. It operates on a magnetic principle, and is thus sensitive to magnetic anomalies in the shaft -- care should be taken that the shaft is not magnetized to assure the output signal is not contaminated. It is important to realize that the transducer measures relative displacement between the bearing and the journal, and does not measure total vibration level of the shaft or the housing. The displacement transducer is very commonly installed in large machines with journal bearings where it is used to detect bearing failure and to shut the machine down before catastrophic failure occurs.

These transducers are frequently used in pairs oriented 90 apart, and can be connected to the vertical and horizontal plates of an oscilloscope to display the "orbit", or path of the journal as it migrates around in the bearing. The frequency response of the displacement transducer extends from DC (0 Hz) to about 1000 Hz.


The Velocity Probe

Velocity Transducer Some velocity transducers are made with a moving coil outside a stationary magnet. The principle of operation is the same. Another type of velocity transducer consists of an accelerometer with a builtin electronic integrator. This unit is called a "Velometer", and is by all accounts superior to the classic seismic velocity probe The velocity probe was one of the first vibration transducers to be built. It consists of a coil of wire and a magnet so arranged that if the housing is moved, the magnet tends to remain stationary due to its inertia. The relative motion between the magnetic field and the coil induces a current that is proportional to the velocity of motion. The unit thus produces a signal directly proportional to vibration velocity. It is self-generating and needs no conditioning electronics in order to operate, and it has a relatively low electrical output impedance making it fairly insensitive to noise induction. In spite of these advantages, the velocity transducer has many disadvantages that make it nearly obsolete for new installations, although there are many thousands of them still in use today. It is relatively heavy and complex and thus expensive, and it has poor frequency response, extending from about 10 Hz to 1000 Hz. The spring and the magnet make up a low-frequency resonant system with a natural frequency of about 10 Hz. This resonance needs to be highly damped to avoid a large peak in the response at this frequency. The problem is that the damping in any practical design is temperature sensitive, and this causes the frequency response and phase response to be temperature dependent.

The Accelerometer


Piezo-Electric Accelerometer The compression-type accelerometer, diagrammed here, was the first type to be developed. The shear type, which is arranged so the active element is subjected to shear forces, is generally preferred. There are also other designs for accelerometers The piezo-electric accelerometer can be considered the standard vibration transducer for machine vibration measurement. It is made in several different configurations, but the illustration of the compression type serves to describe the principle of operation. The seismic mass is clamped to the base by an axial bolt bearing down on a circular spring. The piezo-electric element is squeezed between the mass and the base. When a piezo-electric material experiences a force, it generates an electric charge between its surfaces. There are many such materials, with quartz being one of the most commonly used. There are also synthetic ceramic piezo materials that work well, and in some cases, work at higher temperatures than quartz is able to do. If the temperature of a piezo material is increased, finally the so called "curie point", or "curie temperature" is reached, and the piezo-electric property is lost. Once this happens, the transducer is defective and not repairable. When the accelerometer is moved in the up and down direction, the force required to move the seismic mass is born by the active element. According to Newton's second law, this force is proportional to the acceleration of the mass. The force on the crystal produces the output signal, which is therefore proportional to the acceleration of the transducer. Accelerometers are inherently extremely linear in an amplitude sense, meaning they have a very large dynamic range. The smallest acceleration levels they can sense are determined only by the electrical noise of the electronics, and the highest levels are limited only by the destruction of the piezo element itself. This range of acceleration levels can span an amplitude range of about 108, which is 160 dB! No other transducer can match this performance. The piezo-electric accelerometer is very stable over long periods of time, and will maintain its calibration if it is not abused. The two ways that accelerometers can be damaged are subjecting them to excessive heat and dropping onto a hard surface. If dropped more than a few feet onto a concrete floor or steel deck, the accelerometer should be re-calibrated to be sure the crystal is not cracked. A small crack will cause the sensitivity to be reduced and also will greatly affect the resonance, and thus the frequency response. It is a good idea to calibrate accelerometers about once a year if they are in service with portable data collectors. The frequency range of the accelerometer is very wide, extending from very low frequencies in some units to several tens of kilohertz. The high-frequency response is limited by the resonance of the seismic mass coupled to the springiness of the piezo element. This resonance produces a very high peak in the response at the natural frequency of the transducer, and this is usually somewhere near


30 kHz for commonly used accelerometers. A rule of thumb is that an accelerometer is usable up to about 1/3 of its natural frequency. Data above this frequency will be accentuated by the resonant response, but may be used if the effect is taken into consideration. When using an ICP accelerometer, care must be taken not to subject it to acceleration levels where the output voltage will exceed several volts. Otherwise, the internal preamplifier will be overloaded and data distortion will result! Most accelerometers used in industry today are of the "ICP" type, meaning they have in internal integrated circuit preamplifier. This preamp is powered by a DC polarization of the signal lead itself, so no extra wiring is needed. The device the accelerometer is connected to needs to have this DC power available to this type of transducer. The ICP accelerometer will have a low-frequency roll-off due to the amplifier itself, and this is usually at 1 Hz for most generally available ICP units. There are some that are specially designed to go to 0.1 Hz if very low frequency data is required.

When an ICP accelerometer is connected to the power source, it takes a few seconds for the amplifier to stabilize, and during this time, any data the unit is collecting will be contaminated by a slowly varying voltage ramp. For this reason, there must be a time delay built into data collectors to assure the unit is stable. If the delay is too short, the time waveform will have an exponentially shaped voltage ramp superimposed on the data, and the spectrum will show a rising very lowfrequency characteristic sometimes called a "ski slope". This should be avoided because the dynamic range of the measurement is compromised. The resonant frequency of an accelerometer is strongly dependent on its mounting. The best type of mounting is always the stud mount -- anything else will reduce the effective frequency range of the unit.

When mounting an accelerometer, it is important that the vibration path from the source to the accelerometer is as short as possible, especially if rolling element bearing vibration is being measured.

The FFT Analyzer
Background Spectrum Analysis


This section will cover the operation and theory of the FFT analyzer, which is the most commonly used piece of signal analysis equipment in the vibration field. Many workers think of the FFT analyzer as a "magic box," into which you put a signal and out of which comes a spectrum. The assumption usually is that the spectrum tells the truth -- the box cannot lie. We will see that this assumption is valid in many cases, but we will also see that we can be misled, for there are several pitfalls in the process of digital signal analysis. One of the purposes of this section is to help you avoid falling into any of the pitfalls, and if you do, how to crawl out smelling like a rose. FFT analysis is but one type of digital spectrum analysis, but we will not concentrate on the other types because they do not apply directly to the VMS program.

Spectrum Analysis
Spectrum analysis, which is defined as the transformation of a signal from a time-domain representation into a frequency-domain representation, has its roots in the early 19th century, when several mathematicians were working on it from a theoretical basis. But it took a practical man, an engineer with a good mathematical background, to develop the rationale upon which almost all our modern spectrum analysis techniques are based. That engineer was Jean Baptiste Fourier, and he was working for Napoleon during his invasion of Egypt on a problem of overheating cannons when he derived the famous Fourier Series for the solution of heat conduction. It may seem a far cry from overheating cannons to frequency analysis, but it turns out that the same equations apply to both cases. Fourier later generalized the Fourier series into the Fourier Integral Transform. The advent of digital signal analysis naturally led to the so-called Discrete Fourier Transform and the Fast Fourier Transform or FFT

Forms of the Fourier Transform The Fourier Series The Fourier Integral Transform The Discrete Fourier Transform The Fast Fourier Transform Analog to Digital Conversion Aliasing Leakage Windows The Hanning Window Overlap Processing The Picket Fence Effect Averaging Time Synchronous Averaging Pitfalls in the FFT

Forms of the Fourier Transform
There are four forms of the Fourier Transform, as follows: Fourier Series -- Transforms an infinite periodic time signal into an infinite discrete frequency spectrum.


Fourier Integral Transform -- Transforms an infinite continuous time signal into an infinite continuous frequency spectrum Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) -- Transforms a discrete periodic time signal into a discrete periodic frequency spectrum Fast Fourier Transform -- A computer algorithm for calculating the DFT They will be discussed in more detail in the next section.

The Fourier Series
The Fourier Series operates on a time signal that is periodic, i.e., a time signal whose waveform repeats over and over again out to infinite time. Fourier showed that such a signal is equivalent to a collection of sine and cosine functions whose frequencies are multiples of the reciprocal of the period of the time signal. The rather unexpected result is that any wave shape whatsoever, as long as it is not infinite in length, can be represented, as the sum of a collection of harmonic components, and the fundamental frequency of the harmonic series is 1 divided by the length of the wave shape. The amplitudes of the various harmonics are called the Fourier coefficients, and their values can be calculated easily if the equation for the wave shape is known. They can also be calculated graphically from the wave shape itself. A certain physics class is known to have done this with the silhouette of Marilyn Monroe. They posted the MM coefficients on the bulletin board as an "in" joke.

Fourier Coefficients

Fourier Coefficients
The calculation of the Fourier coefficients is defined as a mathematical transformation from the time domain to the frequency domain. One important fact emerges from the Fourier Series, and that is that the original waveform can be reconstructed from the frequency coefficients; in other words it is possible to transform from the frequency domain back to the time domain without loss of information. The Fourier series is perfectly adequate for performing frequency analysis on periodic waveforms; that is to say on deterministic signals.

The Fourier Integral Transform
The natural extension of the Fourier series to encompass time signals of infinite length, i.e., nonrepetitive continuous signals, is the Fourier Integral Transform, or more simply the Fourier Transform. This integral will transform any continuous time signal of arbitrary shape into a continuous spectrum extending to infinite frequency. An interesting characteristic of the Fourier Transform is that an event encompassing a short time interval will be spread out over a wide frequency range and vice versa. This was seen in the Introduction to Vibration chapter where a spectrum of a short impulse is shown.

The Discrete Fourier Transform
Neither the Fourier Series nor the Fourier Transform lends itself easily to calculation by digital computers. To overcome this hurdle, the so-called Discrete Fourier Transform, or DFT was developed. Probably the first person to conceive the DFT was Wilhelm Friederich Gauss, the famous


19th century German mathematician, although he certainly did not have a digital computer on which to implement it. The DFT operates on a sampled, or discrete, signal in the time domain, and generates from this a sampled, or discrete, spectrum in the frequency domain. The resulting spectrum is an approximation of the Fourier Series, an approximation in the sense that information between the samples of the waveform is lost. The key to the DFT is the existence of the sampled waveform, i.e., the possibility of representing the waveform by a series of numbers. To generate this series of numbers from an analog signal, a process of sampling and analog to digital conversion is required. The sampled signal is a mathematical representation of the instantaneous signal level at precisely defined time intervals. It contains no information about the signal between the actual sample times. If the sampling rate is high enough to ensure a reasonable representation of the shape of the signal, the DFT does produce a spectrum very close to a theoretically true spectrum. This spectrum is also discrete, and there is no information between the samples, or "lines" of the spectrum. In theory, there is no limit to the number of samples that can be used, or the speed of the sampling, but there are practical limitations we must live with. Most of these limitations are the result of using a digital computer as the calculating agent.

The Fast Fourier Transform
In order to adapt the DFT for use with digital computers, the so-called Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) was developed. The FFT is simply an algorithm for calculating the DFT in a fast and efficient manner. Cooley and Tukey are credited with the discovery of the FFT in 1967, but it existed much earlier, although without the digital computers needed to exploit it. The FFT algorithm places certain limitations on the signal and the resulting spectrum. For instance, the sampled signal to be transformed must consist of a number of samples equal to a power of two. Most FFT analyzers allow 512, 1024, 2048, or 4096 samples to be transformed. The frequency range covered by FFT analysis depends on the number of samples collected and on the sampling rate, as will be explained shortly.

Analog to Digital Conversion
The first step in performing an FFT analysis is the actual sampling process, which is illustrated here:

Analog to Digital Conversion


The sampling is an analog, not digital, process and is accomplished with a "sample and hold" circuit. The output of this circuit is a sequence of voltage levels that are fed into an analog to digital converter (ADC). Here the voltage levels are converted into digital words representing each sampled level. The accuracy of the sampled levels depends in part on the number of bits in the digital words. The greater the number of bits, the lower the noise level and the greater the dynamic range will be. Most FFT analyzers use 12-bit words and this produces a dynamic range of about 70 dB (3,100:1). Fourteen bit words can achieve 80 dB (10,000:1) dynamic range. It can be seen here that the sampling rate determines the highest frequency in the signal that can be encoded. The sampled waveform cannot know anything about what happens in the signal between the sampled times. Claude Shannon, the developer of the branch of mathematics called information theory, determined that to encode all the information in a signal being sampled, the sampling frequency must be at least double the highest frequency present in the signal. This fact is sometimes called the Nyquist criterion.

It is important that there is no information in the sampled waveform near the sampling frequency to avoid a problem called aliasing.

Aliasing Here the actual signal is represented in black and the sampled representation of it is in gray. The vertical lines represent the sampling frequency. Note that if the sampling frequency is the same as the sampled frequency, each sample is the same size, and the output of the sampling circuit will be a constant direct voltage -- obviously having no relation to frequency of the input signal. Now note what happens if the actual signal is higher in frequency than the sampling frequency. The sampler output looks like a very low frequency, and again it is not a correct representation of the actual signal. This phenomenon is called aliasing, and it can lead to gross errors unless it is avoided. The best way to avoid aliasing is to pass the input signal through an analog low-pass filter whose cut-off frequency is less than one-half the sampling frequency. In most modern FFT analyzers, the sampling frequency is set to 2.56 times the filter cut-off frequency. The filter must have a very sharp cut off characteristic, or roll off, and this means it will also have Phase Shift that can affect the data if one needs phase information near the upper end of the frequency span of the analyzer. To avoid


this, select a frequency span so the frequency in question is in the lower half of the frequency range. This is important in performing balancing with an FFT analyzer, where phase of the 1X vibration signal is needed. Aliasing also occurs in other media, such as motion pictures. For instance, sometimes in western movies the wagon wheel spokes may appear stopped, or rotating backward. This is optical aliasing, for a movie is a sampled representation of the original motion. Another example of optical aliasing is the stroboscope, which is set to flash at a rate equal to or near the rotation rate of the object being observed, making it appear stationary or slowly turning. Sampling Rules for Digital Signal Analysis The data path must contain an analog Anti-Aliasing low-pass filter You must sample at least twice as fast as the highest frequency to be analyzed The Frequency Response of the analysis depends on the sampling frequency These rules apply to all FFT analysis, and the analyzer automatically takes care of them. The antialiasing filter is internally set to the appropriate value for each frequency range of the analyzer. The total sampling time is called the time record length and the nature of the FFT dictates that the spacing between the frequency components in the spectrum (also called the frequency resolution) is 1 divided by the record length. For instance, if the frequency resolution is one Hz, then the record length is one second, and if the resolution is 0.1 Hz, then the record length is 10 seconds, etc. From this it can be seen that in order to perform high resolution spectrum analysis relatively long times are required to collect the data. This has nothing to do with the speed of the calculations in the analyzer; it is simply a natural law of frequency analysis.

The FFT analyzer is a batch processing device; that is it samples the input signal for a specific time interval collecting the samples in a buffer, after which it performs the FFT calculation on that "batch" and displays the resulting spectrum If a sinusoidal signal waveform is passing through zero level at the beginning and end of the time record, i.e., if the time record encompasses exactly an integral number of cycles of the waveform, the resulting FFT spectrum will consist of a single line with the correct amplitude and at the correct frequency. If, on the other hand, the signal level is not at zero at one or both ends of the time record, truncation of the waveform will occur, resulting in a discontinuity in the sampled signal. This discontinuity is not handled well by the FFT process, and the result is a smearing of the spectrum from a single line into adjacent lines. This is called "leakage"; it is as if the energy in the signal "leaks" from its proper location into the adjacent lines. The shape of the "leaky" spectrum depends on the amount of signal truncation, and is generally unpredictable for real signals.


In order to reduce the effect of leakage, it is necessary to see to it that the signal level is zero at the beginning and end of the time record. Multiplying the data samples by a so-called “windowing” or “weighting” function, which can have several different shapes, does this. The most common forms of windows and their uses are considered next.

If there is no windowing function used, this is called "Rectangular", "Flat", or "Uniform" windowing. In the figure above, the effect of the data truncation can be seen as discontinuities in the windowed waveform. The FFT analyzer only knows what is in the time window, or time record. It assumes the actual signal contains the discontinuities, and they are the cause of the leakage seen in the previous figure. Leakage could be avoided if the input waveform zero crossings were synchronized with the sampling times, but this is impossible to achieve in practice.

Windowing for Transient Signals


Windowing for Transient Signals

In the case where the input signal is a transient, it will by definition begin and end at zero level, and as long as it is entirely within the time record, no truncation will occur, and the analysis will be correct because the FFT sees the entire signal. It is very important that the entire transient fit into the record, and the record length is dependent upon the frequency range of the analysis. Most FFT analyzers allow the user to see the time record on the screen, so it can be assured that this condition is met.

The Hanning Window

The Hanning window, after its inventor whose name was Von Hann, has the shape of one cycle of a cosine wave with 1 added to it so it is always positive. The sampled signal values are multiplied by the Hanning function, and the result is shown in the figure. Note that the ends of the time record are forced to zero regardless of what the input signal is doing. While the Hanning window does a good job of forcing the ends to zero, it also adds distortion to the wave form being analyzed in the form of amplitude modulation; i.e., the variation in amplitude of the signal over the time record. Amplitude Modulation in a wave form results in sidebands in its spectrum, and in the case of the Hanning window, these sidebands, or side lobes as they are called, effectively reduce the frequency resolution of the analyzer by 50%. It is as if the analyzer frequency "lines" are made wider. In the illustration here, the curve is the actual filter shape that the FFT analyzer with Hanning weighting produces. Each line of the FFT analyzer has the shape of this curve -- only one is shown in the figure.


If a signal component is at the exact frequency of an FFT line, it will be read at its correct amplitude, but if it is at a frequency that is one half of delta F (One half the distance between lines), it will be read at an amplitude that is too low by 1.4 dB. The illustration shows this effect, and also shows the side lobes created by the Hanning window. The highest-level side lobes are about 32 dB down from the main lobe.

The measured amplitude of the Hanning weighted signal is also incorrect because the weighting process removes essentially half of the signal level. This can be easily corrected, however, simply by multiplying the spectral levels by two, and the FFT analyzer does this job. This process assumes the amplitude of the signal is constant over the sampling interval. If it is not, as is the case with transient signal, the amplitude calculation will be in error, as shown in the figure below.

The Hanning window should always be used with continuous signals, but must never be used with transients. The reason is that the window shape will distort the shape of the transient, and the frequency and phase content of a transient is intimately connected with its shape. The measured level will also be greatly distorted. Even if the transient were in the center of the Hanning window, the measured level would be twice as great as the actual level because of the amplitude correction the analyzer applies when using the Hanning weighting.


A Hanning weighted signal actually is only half there, the other half of it having been removed by the windowing. This is not a problem with a perfectly smooth and continuous signal like a sinusoid, but most signals we want to analyze, such as machine vibration signatures are not perfectly smooth. If a small change occurs in the signal near the beginning or end of the time record, it will either be analyzed at a much lower level than its true level, or it may be missed altogether. For this reason, it is a good idea to employ overlap processing. To do this, two time buffers are required in the analyzer. For 50% overlap, the sequence of events is as follows: When the first buffer is half full, i.e., it contains half the samples of a time record, the second buffer is connected to the data stream and also begins to collect samples. As soon as the first buffer is full, the FFT is calculated, and the buffer begins to take data again. When the second buffer is filled, the FFT is again calculated on its contents, and the result sent to the spectrum-averaging buffer. This process continues on until the desired number of averages is collected.

Overlap Processing
Overlap processing can only be achieved if the time required to calculate the FFT is shorter than the time record length. If this is not the case, the spectral calculations will lag behind the data acquisition leaving gaps of unanalyzed signal. See also the paragraph on real time speed later in this section.

If the overlap is 2/3, i.e., 66.7%, then the overall time weighting of the data will be flat, and there is no advantage to using a greater overlap. Most data collection for machinery analysis uses 50% data overlap, which provides adequate amplitude accuracy for most vibration work. Here is a summary of the relationship between sampling rate, number of samples, time record length, and frequency resolution that affect FFT analysis. The sampling rate in samples per second, times the time record length T in seconds, equals the number of samples N. In the FFT analyzer, the number of samples N is constrained to a power of two.


FFT Fundamentals The FFT algorithm, operating on N samples of time data produces N/2 frequency lines. Thus a time record of 512 samples will generate a spectrum of 256 lines. FFT analyzers generally do not display the upper spectral lines because of the possibility of their being contaminated by aliased components. This is because the anti-aliasing filter is not perfect, and has a finite slope in its cut-off range. Therefore, a 256 line spectrum will be displayed as a 200 line spectrum, and a 512-line spectrum will be displayed as a 400 line spectrum, etc. The frequency resolution, DF, is equal to the frequency span divided by the number of lines, and this is equal to 1/T. Conversely, the time record length T equals 1/DF. From this it can be seen that as the frequency resolution increases (smaller DF), the time record length also increases in proportion. For this reason, to create a high-resolution spectrum requires a relatively long time to acquire the data.

The Picket Fence Effect
As has been mentioned before, the FFT spectrum is a discrete spectrum, consisting of estimates of what the spectral level is at specific frequencies. These frequencies are determined by the analysis parameters that are set up in the analyzer, and have nothing to do with the signal being analyzed. This means there may be, and probably are, peaks in the true spectrum of the signal that are between the lines of the FFT analysis. This also means that in general, the peaks in an FFT spectrum will be measured too low in level, and the valleys will be measured too high. Moreover, the true frequencies where the peaks and valleys lie will not be those indicated in the FFT spectrum.


This phenomenon is called resolution bias error, or more commonly, the picket fence effect. In other words, looking at an FFT spectrum is a little like looking at mountain range through a picket fence.

One of the important functions of the FFT analyzer is that it is easily able to do averaging of spectra over time. In general, the vibration signal from a rotating machine is not completely deterministic, but has some random noise superimposed on it. Because the noise is unpredictable, it alters the spectrum shape, and in many cases can seriously distort the spectrum. If a series of spectra are averaged together, the noise will gradually assume a smooth shape, and the spectral peaks due to the deterministic part of the signal will stand out and their levels will be more accurately represented. It is not true that simply averaging FFT spectra will reduce the amount of the noise -the noise will be smoothed but its level will not be reduced. There are two types of averaging in general use in FFT analyzers, called linear averaging and exponential averaging. Linear averaging is the adding together of a number of spectra and then dividing the total by the number that was added. This is done for each line of the spectra and the result is a true arithmetic average on a line-by-line basis. Exponential averaging generates a continuous running average where the most recently collected spectra have more influence on the average than older ones. This provides a convenient form to examine changing data but still have the benefit of some averaging to smooth the spectra and reduce the apparent noisiness of them.

Time Synchronous Averaging
Time synchronous averaging, also called time domain averaging, is a completely different type of averaging, where the waveform itself is averaged in a buffer before the FFT is calculated. In order to do time domain averaging, a reference trigger pulse must be input to the analyzer to tell it when to start sampling the signal. This trigger is typically synchronized with an element of the machine that is of interest. The average gradually accumulates those portions of the signal that are synchronized with the trigger, and other parts of the signal, such as noise, are effectively averaged out. This is the only type of averaging which actually does reduce noise. More information on applications of time synchronous can be found in the next chapter on Machine Vibration Monitoring.

Pitfalls in the FFT

This is a summary of the pitfalls that plague the FFT analysis technique. This is not to say that FFT analysis is no good -- on the contrary, it has revolutionized the analysis of vibration data. The important fact is that the problems with FFT analysis can be overcome by proper technique, and the residual effects that remain can be reduced to insignificant levels. Sampling causes aliasing Time limitation causes leakage Discrete frequencies in the calculated spectrum causes the picket fence effect.

Machine Vibration Monitoring
Introduction Practical Aspects of Vibration Measurement The Concept of Spectrum Comparison

It has been shown many times over that the vibration signature of an operating machine provides far more information about the inner workings of the machine than any other type of nondestructive test. A bearing that has a small developing defect will cause a telltale change in the machine vibration, as will an imbalance condition, a misalignment, or any of a myriad of other faults. Vibration analysis, properly applied, allows the technician to detect small developing mechanical defects long before they become a threat to the integrity of the machine, and thus provides the necessary lead-time to schedule maintenance to suit the needs of the plant management. In this way, plant management has control over the machines, rather than the other way around. Vibration measurement and analysis is the cornerstone of Predictive Maintenance, which stands in sharp contrast to the historical "run-to-failure" type of maintenance practice. Numerous studies, such as those conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), have shown that on average, the cost to industry for maintenance will be reduced by more than 50% if a predictive maintenance program is used instead of run-to-failure.

History of Vibration Analysis used for Machinery Maintenance

History of Vibration Analysis used for Machinery Maintenance


The first vibration meters were introduced in the 1950s, and they measured the overall, or "broad band" level of machine vibration, either in peak-to-peak mils (thousandths of an inch) of vibratory displacement, or in inches per second (IPS) of vibration velocity. A little later, tunable analog filters were added to the meters in order to discriminate between different frequency components, and thus to produce a sort of vibration spectrum. The 1970s brought forth the personal computer and the advent of digital signal processing that led to the FFT analyzer, and it made quick work of calculating a frequency spectrum from a recorded vibration signal. The first such analyzers were quite bulky, weighing as much as 75 pounds, and this made them more suited as laboratory instruments than portable units for field use. The 1980s saw the exploitation of the microprocessor on a single silicon chip, and the batterypowered truly portable digital signal analyzer quickly followed this. It is this device, coupled with a computer program that stores the data and takes care of the logistics of vibration data collection that has revolutionized the application of vibration analysis to machinery diagnostics.

Practical Aspects of Vibration Measurement
Test Point Location Vibration Sensor Orientation Triaxial Measurements Orientation Examples Sensor Mounting Pads -- "Blocking" Vibration Surveys

Test Point Location
In general, it is desirable to locate the test transducer as close as possible to the bearing with solid metal between the bearing and the sensor. Avoid bearing caps, which are of thin metal and are thus poor conductors of vibration energy. If possible, pick test point locations so that there is no metal-tometal joint between the bearing and the sensor. The joint between the end bell and stator housing of a motor is an example of this. Fan housings on the ends of motors are also to be avoided.


In general, it has been found that for motors of less than about 50 HP, one test point is adequate, but for motors over 50 HP, each bearing should have its own test point. In any machines that are especially sensitive to bearing damage, and bearing problems should be detected as early as possible, each bearing should have its own test point. Another consideration in the integrity of the path between the bearing itself and the transducer: If the motor and bell is a solid casting, it will effectively transmit vibration with little loss of high frequencies, but if it contains one or more metal to metal connections, the high frequencies will be significantly distorted.

Vibration Sensor Orientation
In any machinery-monitoring program, it is extremely important that the data is collected in exactly the same manner each time a measurement is taken. This is to assure that the data is repeatable and can be trended over time. For this reason, it is not recommended that hand-held transducers be used. By far the most reliable data is collected when the transducer is stud mounted to the machine surface.

Triaxial Measurements
To assist in the determination of machine problems, it is very helpful to have vibration data from each measurement point in three directions. These directions are called Axial, Radial, and Tangential. Axial is the direction parallel to the shaft in question, radial is the direction from the transducer to the center of the shaft, and tangential is 90 degrees from radial, tangent to the shaft.


Alignment of Vibration Axes

Orientation Examples
The following diagram shows the six possible orientations of the sensor for a horizontal machine.

For vertical machines, 'R' is Radial, 'T' is Tangential, and 'A' is vertical:


Sensor Mounting Pads -- "Blocking"
When using a triaxial accelerometer, it is extremely important that it be installed in exactly the same location each time the data is collected, and also that it be oriented in the same direction. One way of assuring this is to use permanently affixed mounting blocks on the machine. The cylindrical mounting block, or "pad", is a bronze disc with a central tapped hole and a key way at the edge that receives an indexing pin on the transducer itself. The transducer that is sensitive along the axis of the mounting screw is channel No. 1, the axis in the direction of the key way is channel No. 2, and the axis perpendicular to this is channel No. 3. The pad is normally attached to the machine with a hard, strong adhesive such as Versilok ä type 204 structural adhesive. As was mentioned above, it is very important that the orientation of the block is known by the software, and if a block is replaced, the new one must be oriented in the same direction. The VTAG states the proper orientation of each block. The installation of the mounting blocks is sometimes referred to as "blocking" a machine.


Sensor Mounting Pad

Vibration Surveys
When performing a vibration survey of a group of machines, the following points should be considered in order to assure consistency of the data from one measurement time to the next.

Test Conditions Operating Conditions Warm-up Visual Inspection

Test Conditions
The vibration signature of a machine is strongly dependent on the operating parameters as well as its physical condition. These operating parameters include such things as running speed, load, pump discharge pressure, and compressor delivery pressure. The machine must be in its normal operating condition when vibration data is collected. If this is not the case, the vibration signature will not match the vibration signatures previously recorded, and trending vibration levels over time becomes impossible. Running speeds of induction motors depend on the load, and should not vary from one collection time to the next by more than a few percent. This means that load conditions must be as nearly as possible the same. The vibration level contributed by extraneous sources, such as nearby machines, must also be the same for each data collection time. Do not collect data with adjacent machines turned off if the previous spectra were recorded with them running. This is especially true with strong background vibration levels, as in the engine room of a ship. Propulsion diesels must be operating at the same speed for each data collection session!

Operating Conditions


It is imperative that when collecting data, the test RPM is very near the RPM that was used for the previous tests. In turbine-driven equipment, the speed should be verified by the use of a portable stroboscopic or other tachometer, and it must be running at a constant, not varying, speed! Gauge pressures should reflect normal operating conditions. Pump testing with discharge valves closed is discouraged, but if a pump must be tested in a recirculating condition, the recirculation valve may be partially closed to attain a normal discharge pressure.

All machines should be tested in a fully warmed-up condition. Machine temperature will affect alignment and operating clearances due to thermal expansion. A cold machine will have a different vibration signature than a warmed-up machine, sometimes extremely different.

Visual Inspection
Visual inspection of an operating machine while vibration testing is important, for valuable clues to machinery condition can often be uncovered. RPM and discharge pressure, etc., should be noted. The following items should be checked: Are there any unusual noises present? Do any bearings feel hotter than normal? Can you feel any excessive vibration level? Is there anything unusual about the operation of the machine? Are there any fluid or steam leaks obvious? Do the gauge readings look normal? Does the machine operator have any comments on machine condition?

The Concept of Spectrum Comparison
Vibration Measurement Parameters Machinery Testing Schedule Trending of Vibration Data The Reference Spectrum Forcing Frequencies Order Normalization Evaluating Machine Vibration Spectra

Vibration Measurement Parameters
As we saw in the Introduction to Vibration chapter, it is possible to examine the same vibration signal in terms of Acceleration, Velocity, or Displacement. It is seen that velocity at any frequency is proportional to the displacement times the frequency, and the acceleration at any frequency is proportional to velocity times frequency, which means it is also equal to displacement times frequency squared.


Machinery Testing Schedule
It is important to begin a vibration-monitoring program of manageable size and then gradually expand it as you gain experience. The most important machines to monitor should be those that are critical to the plant's productivity and/or have a poor maintenance record. Variable speed machines, extremely complex machines, and reciprocating machines should not be included at first. For a successful monitoring program, machinery measurements must be carried out on a scheduled periodic basis. Most equipment should be tested monthly, with certain less important machines on a 3-month schedule. Weekly testing is common for critical machines. In any case, it is important to tailor your measurement schedule to suit the machines and their condition. As experience is gained, it will be easy to revise the testing schedule accordingly.

Trending of Vibration Data
Trending is the storage of vibration signatures recorded at specific time intervals and plotting the changes in vibration levels at the forcing frequencies vs. time. An upward trend in level indicates a developing problem. The simplest way to utilize the concept of vibration trending is to establish a representative vibration spectrum of a normally operating machine as a reference, and compare this reference to spectra measured at later times on the same machine. The comparison of the spectra is made possible by order normalization, which will be discussed shortly. When performing the spectral comparison there are several important points that need to be addressed:


The operating conditions of the machine when measuring the new vibration data must match as closely as possible the conditions under which the reference spectrum was recorded. Otherwise, the spectra will not be comparable and gross errors can be made. The vibration data must be recorded in exactly the same way that the reference data were measured. The transducer must be mounted in exactly the same location, and its calibration must be accurate. If possible, the same transducer should be used for all successive measurements on the machine. When taking vibration data with an FFT analyzer, or data collector, it is important to average several instantaneous spectra together to reduce random variations and the effects of extraneous noise in the measured signal. The number of spectral averages recorded to produce the spectra must be sufficient to produce a uniform and steady signature. Usually from six to ten averages will do this, but on some machines with a relatively high random noise content in their vibration signature, longer averaging times may be needed. A rule of thumb is to record a spectrum with several averages and then immediately record another one with twice as many averages. If the spectra are significantly different, the number of averages should be doubled again and another spectrum recorded. If the latter two spectra are similar, then the previous number of averages is adequate for this machine.

The Reference Spectrum
When performing trending, it is extremely important to be sure that the reference spectrum to which the subsequent test spectra will be compared is truly representative of the machine.

Averaged Vibration Signatures The Spectrum Mask

Averaged Vibration Signatures
Long experience has shown that an excellent way to generate a meaningful reference is to average several spectra together from machines of the same type. If there are a number of similar machines in a plant the statistical average of their reference spectra is a good indication of the overall characteristics of that particular machine. A series of similar machines in good working order will produce vibration spectra that are similar to one another, but will have random variations in level. The spectra of the machines are averaged together and the standard deviations in level at each significant frequency are calculated. Some types of machines are so individualistic that when averaged together, the standard deviation between the vibration magnitudes is so great that the average is essentially meaningless. In this case, each machine must be used by itself to produce a meaningful reference by averaging a series of measurements over a fairly long time period, and generating a mask from this average reference spectrum. There are many situations where a large selection of similar machines is not available, and in this case, the averaged reference spectra are taken on the same machine at different times. When averaging spectra from a group of machines to make a reference spectrum, care must be taken to see that the spectra to be averaged are valid and that the machines they come from are not defective. One of the most important jobs of the vibration analyst is to be sure that the average reference spectra are valid and representative of the machines in question. Do not confuse reference spectrum averaging to produce a reference signature with spectrum averaging done at the time of vibration data collection, as described above.


The Spectrum Mask
As we have seen, healthy machines will show minor deviations in their vibration spectra because of small load variations, temperature variations, line voltage variations, and background noise level fluctuations. These variations in vibration signatures can cause false alarms to be generated if the raw spectrum is directly compared to a valid reference spectrum. For this reason, it is desirable to generate a so-called mask spectrum from the reference spectrum. The mask is a new spectrum made by increasing the levels in the reference spectrum by various amounts at different frequencies. For instance the mask might be 6 dB above the reference at 1X, but only 4 dB above the reference at 2X. A good staring point for establishing the mask is to add one standard deviation in level at each spectral peak to the averaged reference spectrum. A large class of machines will be found to produce averaged spectra with fairly small standard deviations, and with these machines in particular it is a good idea to perform the spectrum averaging and then generate the mask by adding one standard deviation to the average spectrum at each frequency. A group of machines which exhibits large standard deviations in level when making the reference will be more difficult to deal with in generating the mask, and the mask levels will have to be higher than one standard deviation above the reference. The determination of the shape of the mask spectrum can be fairly complicated, and it depends on the machine in question and normal variation in its vibration spectral levels at different frequencies. This can only be determined by looking at a series of historical spectra and applying good judgment and a good knowledge of the machine itself.

Forcing Frequencies
The value of vibration analysis of machinery is based on the fact that specific elements in the rotating parts of any machine will produce forces in the machine that will cause vibration at specific frequencies. One of the most important of the forcing frequencies is the RPM of the shaft, and it arises from the fact that any rotor will always have a certain amount of residual imbalance. This imparts a radial centripetal force on the bearings, causing the structure to vibrate at the 1X, or fundamental, frequency. The so-called bearing tones, which are characteristic of each bearing geometry, are forces generated by defects in the races and rolling elements of the bearing itself. Gear tooth-mesh frequencies come from the individual impacts of gear teeth against each other, and the tooth-mesh frequency is equal to the number of teeth on the gear times the gear RPM. Vane pass or blade pass frequencies are similar to tooth mesh and are equal to the number of vanes in an impeller or number of blades in a fan times the RPM. Each forcing frequency will create a peak in the vibration spectrum, the amplitude of the peak being dependent on the severity of the condition that causes it. Thus the frequency indicates the type of problem and the amplitude indicates its severity. As an example of a simple forcing frequency, the ceiling fan illustrated below would produce vibration component each time a blade struck the fly swatter, giving rise to a peak in the spectrum at 5 times the turning speed.


The figure below, showing a centrifugal air compressor, illustrates some of the forcing frequencies in the spectrum.

Following is an example of forcing frequency calculation for a gear-driven machine:

Let us assume that the motor/gear/fan components have the following element counts: Machine Component
Motor Cooling Fan Motor Rotor Drive Pinion Driven Gear Fan

Elements of Component
Fan Blades Rotor Bars Gear Teeth Gear Teeth Fan Blades

Number of Elements
11 42 36 100 9

In this case of a multiple shaft machine, we must consider that the fundamental frequencies of the motor and fan shafts are different. Let us assume that the motor is again running at 1780 RPM. To calculate the fan shaft RPM, we must first find the reduction ratio of the gearbox. To find this we would look at the number of gear teeth on each of the gears. Divide the drive pinion tooth count by the driven gear tooth count:


Next, multiply this ratio by the motor shaft RPM to find the fan shaft RPM;


We would now say that the fundamental frequency of the motor is 1780 CPM and the fundamental frequency of the fan is 640.8 CPM. We multiply the number of elements on each component by the fundamental frequency of the shaft from which it rotates. The components that are on the motor shaft will be multiplied by 1780 CPM and the components on the fan shaft will be multiplied by 640.8 CPM. To make this easier, let us separate the components with their corresponding shafts: Motor Shaft
Rotation Motor Cooling Fan Motor Rotor Drive Pinion

1 11 42 36

Forcing Frequency, CPM
1,780 19,580 74,760 64,080

Fan Shaft
Rotation Driven Gear Fan

1 100 9

Forcing Frequency
640.8 64,080 5,767.2

The Frequency Axis When plotting vibration spectra from rotating machines, you have several choices of units for the frequency axis. Probably the most natural unit is the cycle per second, or hertz (Hz). Another unit in common use is Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), or Cycles per Minute (CPM). Hz is converted to CPM by multiplying by 60. Many people feel that CPM is a convenient scale to use because the machines are described in terms of RPM. This practice results in quite large numbers for the frequency axis, however, and many other people prefer to use Hz because the smaller numbers are more convenient.

Machine Vibration Analysis

Introduction Time Domain Analysis Cepstrum Analysis Statistical Properties of Vibration Signals Amplitude Demodulation Root Cause Failure Analysis

The steps in manual (non-automatic) machine vibration analysis are: • • Identifying vibration peaks in the spectrum and relating them to forcing frequencies Determining the severity of machine problems from the amplitudes and relationships between the vibration peaks. Making the appropriate repair recommendations based on the severity of the machine problem. In order to do a proper job of vibration analysis, several tools are needed: If the vibration spectra are being analyzed on a computer, a calculator and Vibration Test and Analysis Guide (VTAG) for the machine in question are required. If the vibration spectra have been printed on paper, then a straight edge and ten-point divider are desirable. Previous vibration data and average vibration data are also helpful if available.

The Vibration Test and Analysis Guide (VTAG) Checking for Data Validity Step-by-Step Analysis of Spectra Identifying the First Order (1X) Peak

The Vibration Test and Analysis Guide (VTAG)
The VTAG contains important information about the design of the machine, the test points and their locations, the frequency ranges to be tested, and the forcing frequencies to be expected. The VTAG should be consulted before any vibration analysis is attempted. Following is an example of a VTAG:


Checking for Data Validity
After determining the shaft rotation rate and locating it on the spectrum (it will be the first order in a normalized spectrum), the vibration analyst must check the validity of the spectrum. Data validity can be corrupted by such things as incorrect labeling of accelerometer orientation or position, improper accelerometer attachment, rapid accelerometer temperature changes, and incorrect machine operating conditions. When data are to be compared to previously collected data from the same point, similar test conditions must be maintained, especially machine speed, load, and operating temperature.


The integrity of the accelerometer cable is crucial to the collection of valid data. If the central conductor in the cable is intermittent or open, the measured signal will consist mostly of random noise, and if the cable shield is intermittent or broken, the data will be contaminated with 60 Hz noise and harmonics. (50 Hz in countries with 50 Hz power lines.) In electrically driven machines, the 60 Hz line frequency will produce a series of 120 Hz harmonics in the vibration spectrum, as explained in the section on electrically induced vibration. If an accelerometer is exposed continuously to a higher temperature than that for which it is rated, it will become desensitized, and the data it senses from then on will be worthless. Some accelerometers will operate up to 400 degrees F, but most give up the ghost at about 200 degrees F. Care must be taken that the accelerometer is not dropped onto a hard surface lest the piezo-electric element be damaged. If the element is cracked, the stiffness of the internal assembly will decrease, reducing the resonant frequency of the accelerometer, and this can greatly change its sensitivity at high frequencies.

Step-by-Step Analysis of Spectra
In preparation for the diagnostic techniques described in the next chapter, the first steps of analysis should be performed as follows: This procedure assumes the vibration spectra are printed on paper. When viewing spectra on the computer screen, similar procedures are used, as explained in the software instructions. Note that all the following steps are greatly simplified if the spectra are order normalized.

Identifying the First Order (1X) Peak
The first step in machine vibration analysis is to identify the spectral peak corresponding to shaft rotation rate, or the so-called 1X peak. This will be the 1X in a normalized spectrum. It is important to check to be sure the normalization was done correctly. It is also called the first order peak. In multiple-shaft machines, each shaft will have a characteristic 1X peak, and these are then located by the analyst.

Single-shaft machine Multiple-shaft machine

Single-shaft machine
Mark the harmonics of 1X on the spectra. This is simplified if you use a ten-point divider. Identify the fan blade pass frequency and mark it on the spectra. This is the number of blades multiplied by the RPM. Note the harmonics of blade pass frequency if they are prominent. Look for bearing tones, which are between the harmonics of the 1X run speed and not synchronous with it. Mark them on the spectra. There are other machine components besides bearings that generate non-synchronous tones. Probably the most common one is belt drives.

Multiple-shaft machine
Identify and mark the 1X and harmonics of the pump on the spectra. The pump RPM can be found from the VTAG, or can be calculated from the motor speed and gear ratio as follows: If the motor is turning 1780 and the gear ratio is 2.3 to 1, then the pump speed is:


Identify and mark the pump vane pass frequency and harmonics, if any, on the spectra. The vane pass is the number of vanes times the pump RPM. Search the spectra for non-synchronous components that could be bearing tones, or consult the VTAG for bearing tone frequencies, and mark them on the spectra. After performing all these tasks, you are ready for the work described in next chapter on Machine Diagnostics.

Time Domain Analysis
The Waveform vs. the Spectrum FFT Analyzer Setup for Waveform Collection Acceleration vs. Velocity Phase in the Time Domain The Wave Form as an analytical tool Synchronous Averaging Analyzer Set-Up for Synchronous Averaging Case Histories using Synchronous Averaging

The Waveform vs. the Spectrum
Time Domain Analysis is simply the use of the waveform instead of the spectrum to help diagnose machine problems. As we learned in the frequency analysis section of the Vibration Fundamentals course, the spectra of an impulse or transient and of a random signal may look almost exactly alike. This is true even though the parent time signals are very different in character. The waveform immediately shows the difference, however, and therefore it is a good idea for the analyst to examine the waveform when the spectrum may not provide all the information needed to make a complete diagnosis.

FFT Analyzer Setup for Waveform Collection
When setting up an analyzer to store waveforms, an important point should be born in mind, and that is that the frequency range normally convenient for looking at a spectrum is usually not suited to looking at the waveform. Most FFT analyzers, with a few notable exceptions, do not allow you to set up specific sampling rates or time domain record lengths – you must set them up in terms of frequency span and frequency resolution. Remember from the FFT Analysis chapter that the time record length used by the analyzer to calculate the spectrum is the reciprocal of the line spacing, or resolution, of the spectrum. Spectra are generally scaled so relatively wide frequency ranges can be examined, and the FFT analyzer of necessity acquires a short time record. For instance, a 400-line spectrum extending from DC to 1000 Hz will have a line spacing of 1000/400, or 2.5 Hz. The time record length used to calculate this spectrum is 1/2.5, or 0.4 seconds. This time record, which is the actual waveform, will show details that happen in that 0.4-second time span, but in practice, when looking at a machine vibration waveform, we are often looking for events that occur over a much longer time than that. If


we are looking for beats in the vibration signature of an electric motor, or of the combined vibration of two machines running at slightly different speeds, we need to see a waveform that is at least several seconds long. To acquire a waveform lasting five seconds, we need to set up a line spacing of 1/5 Hz, and this can be done by adjusting the number of lines of resolution and the frequency span to suitable values. To find out the sampling rate of the waveform, and thus it time resolution, again we need to get the information from the spectrum characteristics. The sampling frequency of the time record for most analyzers is 2.56 times the highest frequency in the spectrum. Thus a frequency span of 100 Hz implies a sampling frequency of 256 samples per second, and a span of 1000 Hz requires a sampling rate of 2560 samples per second. Remember that a meaningful time record contains many more data points that the usual spectrum, and therefore you need to take care that you have enough memory available in your data collector to store the waveform data. For this reason, it is best to use the lowest sampling rate and the shortest time record length that will provide the needed data. For example if you just want to resolve beats in waveform that only occur once in several seconds, the sampling rate need not be very high – 50 samples per second is probably fast enough. This corresponds to a frequency span of 50/2.56, or 19.53 Hz. So you can select 20 Hz in the frequency span set up. On the other hand, if you want to examine a waveform that might have interesting glitches at 50 times per second, then you need to sample fast enough to resolve each glitch. You might sample at 1000 samples per second, and this requires a frequency span of 1000/2.56, or about 390 Hz. A good rule of thumb to memorize is that the time record length depends only on the line spacing of the FFT spectrum and the sampling rate depends only on the frequency range of the FFT spectrum, and they are independently adjustable. We will return to this subject of time resolution versus frequency resolution soon, when we look into Synchronous Averaging.