Many manufacturers have complex production processes that require advanced machinery and equipment. In order to prevent downtime and maximize output, manufacturers must ensure that their equipment and machinery operate at maximum efficiency levels. Otherwise, faulty machinery might cause more than quality defects and extended downtime. It can also potentially become dangerous for workers on the factory floor.

As a result, businesses have implemented various sensors and techniques to guage machine performance. One common example is the adoption of vibration and frequency sensors to identify performance issues and faulty equipment before the machine breaks down.

Machine vibration monitoring provides manufacturers with vital information regarding individual equipment effectiveness. Deviations from expected parameters usually signal a potential problem down the road, prompting manufacturers to execute predictive maintenance measures to keep the production line running.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of machine performance monitoring and outline some tools and tips on machine vibration analysis and its application in a modern factory environment.

What is machine vibration analysis?

Machine vibration analysis involves the examination of equipment vibration patterns to determine the physical and functional states, detecting any anomalies before they develop into something more problematic.

Modern factory equipment consist of various moving parts in inaccessible areas. The inaccessibility makes it challenging to monitor these machines without more precise, advanced tools.

Machine vibration monitoring is ideal for manufacturing because it detects changes in regular equipment operation by recording, cross-referencing, and identifying machine parts susceptible to failure.

And because different materials vibrate differently under the same conditions, vibration analyzers can easily pick up on nonconforming wave patterns.

Why manufacturers measure machine vibrations

Machine vibration analysis is a worthwhile endeavor for numerous manufacturing operations. Here are the main reasons why:

Improve factory floor asset performance: Machines and equipment are made up of various gearboxes, bearings, rotors, and motors – critical parts that produce different levels of vibration. Machine vibration monitoring identifies elements likely to hinder proper machine function.

This allows technicians to prevent problems from exacerbating. As such, machines run smoother, executing their roles as effectively and efficiently as intended.

Reduce unplanned downtime: Without machine vibration analysis, manufacturers can miss potential issues, resulting in broken machinery. This downtime halts the production line, resulting in significant decreases to productivity and efficiency.

However, monitoring and analysis allow for proactive fixing and maintenance, reducing unplanned downtime.

Improve product quality: Additionally, faulty machinery impacts product quality, increasing the chances of defective parts and final products. Monitoring machine performance allows manufacturers to get ahead of potential breakdowns.

As a result, the well-oiled production line releases products that conform to specifications, standards, and other quality assurance parameters.

Improve and maintain production timelines: Faulty machines negatively affect production targets. However, predictive maintenance resulting from machine vibration analysis allows machines to operate as intended, enabling businesses to hit production targets.

Better business financial performance: All these reasons boil down to improved productivity and better financial performance for the overall operation. The business saves costs through fewer repairs and smoother on-schedule production.

Furthermore, better product quality and reduced lead times enhance customer satisfaction, improving revenue and reputation.

Tools for measuring machine vibration

Manufacturing businesses should execute machine vibration monitoring and analysis accurately to achieve the benefits associated with the exercise. As such, manufacturers must use the proper tools for measuring machine vibration.

These tools come in various forms and with different functionalities. However, they’re all grouped into two categories based on the deployment type.

These include:

Portable devices: This kind of machine vibration monitoring device is usually handheld, allowing operators to easily move it to different machines as desired. These sensors can be appended to factory equipment using a strong magnet or wired connection.

This allows the technician to measure vibrations at different points using one device. Additionally, the portability ensures the presence of a technician, providing the added advantage of visual inspection of the machinery.

Fixed devices: Some on-floor machinery contains measurement points of interest outside of technicians’ reach. Further, trying to reach these points can be dangerous for the technicians.

Therefore, manufacturers install fixed sensors that don’t require human presence for them to work. This also allows manufacturers to keep a constant and continuous eye on more delicate machinery.

Such devices also take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), leveraging cloud computing for real-time vibration analysis for swift action in case of potential machine failure.

The machine vibration analysis process

Here’s how manufacturers can execute machine vibration monitoring and analysis:

1. Establish machine-specific baselines: Monitor and analyze vibrations from a machine operating normally within the desired parameters. This provides a baseline to compare with collected vibration data from the same machine type.

2. Monitoring and analysis process standardization: With the baseline in hand, standardize the monitoring and analysis processes, ensuring that the collected results compare similarly to the baseline.

Therefore, manufacturers should create comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs) and work instructions technicians can efficiently execute and replicate.

3. Execute vibration analysis: Employees can use portable devices to manually collect vibration data from different machines or various points on a piece of equipment. On the other hand, fixed sensors can do this automatically, as earlier explained.

Older analysis mechanisms relied on raw time waveform data from the factory machines. However, modern vibration analytic software uses Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) waves to analyze equipment health.

4. Documentation and recordkeeping: As part of quality assurance and control efforts, machine vibration analysis requires detailed documentation and recordkeeping for retrospective equipment health analysis.

Fixed sensors and devices connect to the cloud, feeding data into the analysis software. Such software keeps a record of all the periodic analyses.

How Tulip can help with vibration analysis

Using Tulip’s Edge IO, manufacturers are able to connect analog sensors to Tulip’s Frontline Operations Platform to collect data and gain new insights into machine performance.

In the following video, we provide an in-depth overview of what this would look like in practice:

If you’re interested in learning how Tulip can help you improve the way you monitor machine performance, reach out to a member of our team today!

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