Equipment Vibration Problems

Tools and Techniques Used to Solve Difficult and Unusual Vibration Problems

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By Lyle Breaux P.E. at Stress Engineering Services, Inc., Eric Luther P.E. at Stress Engineering Services, Inc., and Scott McNeill Ph.D., P.E. at Stress Engineering Services. This article appears in the March/April 2011 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

The most common equipment vibration problems are often solved in industry without the use of specialty engineering resources. Routine vibration problems—from machinery imbalance and misalignment to simple cases of noise and resonance—are often addressed at the plant level without help from consultants. On the other hand, some encounter noise and vibration problems that require a more in-depth approach—one that involves a combination of computer simulation, specialty field measurements, and/or advanced data analysis techniques.

Figure 1: Compressor piping vibra- tion problem. Field measurement using triaxial accelerometer and dynamic pressure sensorsFigure 1: Compressor piping vibra- tion problem. Field measurement using triaxial accelerometer and dynamic pressure sensors

Field Vibration Surveys – Portable Data Acquisition

Most field vibration troubleshooting starts with basic data collection via portable, hand-held signal analyzers that are easily moved around multiple locations in the vicinity of a vibration problem. Data are typically acquired as a “snapshot in time” of a vibration signal, although modern portable analyzers can also be used as a digital tape recorder, enabling long-term and/or transient data capture. Even complicated multi-channel vibration monitoring jobs often start with a field survey to identify the best locations for mounting sensors. A field vibration survey with portable data acquisition is the simplest and fastest technique available for troubleshooting problems in the field.

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