Vibration Analysis

Explore this topic

Excessive equipment vibration is a common issue experienced in industrial processes and facilities. Excessive vibration is most often caused by misalignment of equipment or components, unbalanced rotating equipment, or loose components (e.g. bolts). If not addressed, prolonged vibration can result in damage to equipment and may even cause system failure. Fixed, rotating, and structural assets are all susceptible to problems caused excessive vibration.

In its simplest form, vibration is a repetitive motion of a structure and can occur in numerous forms. Various types of vibration (e.g. free vibration, forced vibration, flow-induced vibration, random vibration, etc.) can be measured for analysis. The purpose of these Vibration Analysis is to determine how equipment will respond to an applied load or external force. Vibration analysis can also be used to determine the root cause of failure.

Vibration analysis is an important element in reliability centered maintenance, condition monitoring and predictive maintenance programs. The key benefits of identifying and mitigating vibration problems include reducing the risk of failure, extending the life of equipment, and lowering overall maintenance costs.

Tools and Techniques

Several techniques exist depending on the needed level of analysis and type of equipment and risks present.

Vibration Surveying and Monitoring. Monitoring is the simplest way identify vibration problems. Inspectors will install portable vibration sensors (e.g., probes) in multiple locations to acquire data about the type and magnitude of vibrational modes. The recorded data provides information to inspectors on the severity of the problem and on what type of analysis should be performed next.

Sometimes, long-term monitoring is necessary. Vibration monitoring allows operators and inspectors to determine appropriate inspection and maintenance intervals as well as identify causal relationships between facility operating conditions and vibration problems.

Experimental Modal Analysis (EMA). EMA is type of vibration test that involves applying various loads to a sample and measuring the resulting vibration signals. The applied loads simulate what the sample would experience in operating conditions. This method provides a theoretical solution that is used to correct vibration problems or calibrate computer models. Additionally, this technique is applied when equipment is not in service.

Operational Modal Analysis (OMA). Compared to EMA, OMA is performed when background noise signals make it difficult to distinguish from actual vibration signals. OMA is also performed while equipment is in service. This method is achieved by installing vibration sensors to measure operating vibration modes and natural frequencies.

Computer Simulations. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) are two common computational tools used to solve vibration problems. FEA has the ability to simulate real-world situations. Additionally, various operating conditions can be tested before the component is in service. This means that modifications can be made in a computer system rather than an actual component. CFD is also a valuable tool that simulates flow-induced vibration problems often found in a petroleum refinery or chemical processing facility.

Industry Application

Vibration analysis can be performed on all equipment that is subject to vibration problems. Piping that transports fluid, equipment that cycles between different temperatures and pressures, and rotating equipment are among the most susceptible components to experience vibration. This analysis should be performed shortly after start-ups and repairs to ensure equipment is operating within integrity operating windows.

Relevant Links

Topic Tools

Share this Topic

Contribute to Definition

We welcome updates to this Integripedia definition from the Inspectioneering community. Click the link below to submit any recommended changes for Inspectioneering's team of editors to review.

Contribute to Definition
Articles about Vibration Analysis
July/August 2023 Inspectioneering Journal

The API 579 Committee has been steadily working for 10 years on a procedure to evaluate vibration in piping systems. That long work is about to pay off.

Authors: Greg Garic, P.E.
January/February 2023 Inspectioneering Journal

The specialized predictive techniques used in assessing the vibration behavior observed and recorded on a pre-flash column overhead piping system.

September/October 2022 Inspectioneering Journal

An assessment of the vibration behavior observed and recorded on a pre-flash column overhead piping system and the strategic methodologies used based on a proactive troubleshooting technique.

July/August 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

An overview of process piping vibration and evaluating piping systems in vibration service to reduce harmful vibrations.

November/December 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Excessive vibration is a problem frequently encountered in industrial plants and their peripheral equipment, including piping systems, pressure vessels, and steel structures. Long term excessive vibration can lead to fatigue crack propagation and...

Partner Content

FER's extensive TA experience, combined with our custom software (RAMI Scope) that tracks all aspects of TA activities, we have the ability to keep your turnaround flowing flawlessly with the methodology to maximize your value of premium time.

March/April 2011 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...


    Inspectioneering Journal

    Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

    Company Directory

    Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

    Training Solutions

    Improve your skills in key mechanical integrity subjects.

    Case Studies

    Learn from the experience of others in the industry.


    Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

    Industry News

    Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.


    Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

    Expert Interviews

    Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

    Event Calendar

    Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.


    Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

    Videos & Webinars

    Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.


    Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.