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What Are the Different Types of Vibration Monitoring?

By Mal Baxter
Updated May 23, 2024
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The task of observing and analyzing vibrations provides vital analytical and safety awareness in numerous industries and contexts. Vibration monitoring relies on an assortment of precision technologies and techniques to detect movements. These techniques are often used to calibrate equipment and monitor manufacturing processes, as well as for predictive maintenance and operation of engines and turbines. From the measurement of seismic disturbances to the analysis of engine performance, vibration monitoring systems work on different forces to bring together valuable knowledge that can improve technologies and protect lives. Types of vibration monitoring systems include accelerometers, velocity pickups, and eddy probes.

Moving machinery creates vibrations. These can be as small as sound vibrations or as large as seismic earthquakes. The advent of digital technology permits a great deal of control over sensitive analyses, using equipment that is widely obtainable.

Disturbances in equipment performance might lead to failures such as leaks and cracks. These can worsen with repeated exposure to vibration. Other high-technology techniques and equipment are sometimes used, possibly including special electron microscopes or spectrographic analysis equipment. Ultrasound detection also provides insight into vibrations.

Different types of vibrations can fit into three categories: transient, intermittent, and continuous. Transient types are sometimes called impulsive vibrations. These occur as a result of blasting, such as in land removal for mining or construction. Intermittent vibrations are the types that come and go, as those that occur with rock hammering or vibrating rollers. The task of some technology is to detect and measure vibrations when they may occur, like a jackhammer starting and stopping all day on a city street.

Continuous vibrations happen with the sustained use of special equipment like tunnel-boring machines. Some technologies act to detect and measure the magnitude of these vibrations. They might employ special techniques to tease apart subtle variations in sometimes large events to make for precision analysis.

Accelerometers are typically digital chips that can detect movement in physical planes or dimensions. These are the devices found in smart phones and motion-detecting video game controllers. They detect vibration in proportion to Earth's gravity.

Velocity pickups, or sensors, are mechanical or electronic devices that may rely on electric currents and magnets for detection. As movement changes positioning between springs or magnets, conductance variations can create readings, measured as velocity. This vibration monitoring data may be read in inches or millimeters.

Eddy probes are also known as eddy current proximity probes. They measure the displacement of a magnetic field when it interacts with nearby metallic objects. Depending on how much of its field varies around the other objects, this measurable loss of flux density is known as displacement.

Relying on such technologies gives researchers and technicians the means to observe a wide variety of movements and forces. These can include acceleration, deceleration, and other types of spatial positioning. As forces act on vibration monitoring equipment, they can be recorded and even activate other technological processes, such as equipment or alarms.

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