To the savvy maintenance professional, industrial machinery almost “talks” to reveal its condition. The key to success is in understanding what the machine is saying. To detect problems, the professional “listens” in many ways: With eyes and ears, to see and hear conditions that may indicate problems and…

• With thermometers and thermal imagers, to detect overheating, poor electrical connections or failing bearings

• With digital multimeters and power analyzers, to diagnose electrical problems

• Using techniques like lubricant analysis, to gauge machine condition over time

And now new vibration testing tools provide the maintenance professional with a valuable new way not just to listen, but to find mechanical problems and fixes: these new troubleshooting tools are engineered to detect and evaluate machine vibration immediately and recommend any needed repairs.

A new kind of troubleshooting tool

Many industrial maintenance teams today work under severe restrictions on money and time. They may not have the resources to train for and implement the typical long-term vibration analysis program. Further, many professionals may think there are only two options for vibration testing; high-end vibration analyzers that are expensive and difficult to use, and low-end vibration pens, which aren’t particularly accurate.

Fortunately, a new breed of vibration-testing tool fills the middle of the category, combining the diagnostic capability of a trained vibration analyzer with the speed and convenience of lower-end testers, at a reasonable price. This type of tool is designed to be not merely a vibration detector, but a complete diagnostic and problem-solving solution, and targeted specifically for maintenance professionals who need to troubleshoot mechanical problems and quickly understand the root cause of equipment condition.

These tools are designed and programmed to diagnose the most common mechanical problems of unbalance, looseness, misalignment and bearing failures in a wide variety of mechanical equipment, including motors, fans, blowers, belts and chain drives, gearboxes, couplings, pumps, compressors, closed coupled machines and spindles.

Not just data, but actionable results

When these new testers detect a fault, they identify the problem, its location and severity on a multi-level scale to help the maintenance professional prioritize maintenance tasks. They may also recommend repairs.

Mechanical diagnosis can begin with the user placing the device’s accelerometer on the machine under test. The accelerometer may have a magnetic mount or can be installed using adhesive. As the machine under test operates, the accelerometer detects its vibration along three planes of movement (vertical, horizontal and axial) and transmits that information to the tester. Using a set of advanced algorithms, the tester then provides a plain-text diagnosis of the machine with a recommended solution.

No training? No problem

Mechanical equipment is typically evaluated by comparing its condition over time to an established baseline condition. Vibration analyzers used in condition-based monitoring programs rely upon these baseline conditions to evaluate machine condition and estimate remaining operating life. System operators must have considerable training and experience before they can determine the meaning and significance of the vibration spectra they detect.

But what about the maintenance pro who isn’t trained in vibration analysis? How do you tell the difference between acceptable vibration, and the kind of vibration that demands immediate attention to service or replace troubled equipment?

Fortunately, extensive experience with mechanical vibration, what it means and how to fix it is built into the advanced algorithms of today’s testers. Now the maintenance professional can quickly and reliably determine the cause of the machine vibration, learn the severity and location of the problem and receive recommendations for repair. It’s all done with the intelligence built into the tester, without the extensive training, monitoring and recording required for typical vibration monitoring programs.

These testers deliver plain language recommendations about what to do next. For equipment maintenance teams hard pressed and on the go, these precise directions are what they need to take action now, maintain mechanical equipment in top shape, and keep facilities productive. One example of this type of tool is the handheld Fluke 810 Vibration Tester (For more information on the Fluke 810, visit http://www.fluke.com/machinehealth).

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