Using vibration analysis in predictive maintenance

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Production and maintenance engineers are constantly seeking to maximize the performance of their machines and minimize downtime. Predictive maintenance is increasingly being used to achieve these goals. As vibrations in equipment can indicate problems, collecting vibration data is key to this approach.

Vibration analysis allows engineers to assess the condition of devices, such as pumps and motors. By continuously gathering data on vibrations, engineers can predict when equipment needs maintenance. Vibration data is easy to gather and is very effective at identifying problems in equipment that use motors.

What is predictive maintenance?

Predictive maintenance is designed to assess the condition of a piece of equipment and determine when maintenance tasks need to be performed. The equipment’s status is assessed using periodic or continuous condition monitoring, based on non-destructive techniques such as acoustic, infrared and vibration analysis.

The predictive aspect of the method reflects the goal of predicting how the device’s condition will change over time, based on statistical techniques. The aim is to conduct maintenance on the asset at the most cost-effective time to ensure it continues to perform as required, while minimizing interruptions to production.

As such, predictive maintenance is a condition-based maintenance process. This compares to preventive maintenance, a time-based method dictated by pre-set maintenance intervals that pay little attention to the actual health of the machine. As these maintenance tasks do not necessarily align with production schedules, they can be disruptive and thus lead to losses.

Completing preventive maintenance to a fixed schedule also runs the risk of parts being replaced before they need to be, leading to extra costs. Working on a machine unnecessarily can also cause issues due to the danger of parts not being correctly replaced or that components become misaligned. Although preventive maintenance can be easier to plan, it can also lead to using more time, parts, and money than necessary.

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