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Considering buying a vibration condition monitoring system? Here are the various types of systems and technologies


IMG_0093.jpgThe world of vibration condition monitoring is quickly and constantly changing. New products and technologies are coming out regularly from a variety of manufacturers.

There are data collector applications for iPads, Bluetooth sensors such as the iALERT2 Equipment Health Monitor, wireless continuous monitoring solutions, etc. With so many options out there, where do they all fit? The purpose of this article is to discuss the basic types of solutions that are out there and where they may fit you and your plant's needs. 

Portable Data Collector

csi-2140-machinery-health-analyzer.jpgThe time tested data collector for route-based vibration analysis. The large player in the portable data collector market is the CSI/Emerson series of analyzers such as the CSI2140 (pictured right), CSI2130, etc. Other notable manufacturers are Commtest, SKF, Pruftechnik, AzimaDLI, and many more. These analyzers work on the fundamental thought of a time based route where a vibration analyst walks-down the critical equipment in your plant and collects data on them. That data is stored on the analyzer and then dumped into a computer system where the analyst, or others, can perform the detailed vibration analysis on the machine. Although the analyzers themselves can be costly ($20-$100k) this is one of the more inexpensive options as the routes can be scaled to fit your plants needs. Some plants require monthly routes, some quarterly, some twice a year. Some plants contract out this service and some have the expertise in house. There are so many options to using the traditional route based data collector for condition monitoring, which is one of it's biggest strengths.


Wired Monitoring System

Condition_Monitoring_Rack-Based_Monitoring_Bently_Nevada_3500_Series_Machinery_Monitoring_System.jpgThere are a variety of wired vibration monitoring systems, such as the time-tested GE/Bently Nevada Proximity Probe (3500 Series shown to the right) or the CSI/Emerson 6500 System, among others, where data is continuously connected typically every second, and alerts are made when there are issues. You can then login to these systems and perform detailed analysis to diagnose your issue. Many  of these systems even have trip functions that will shut the machine down when a certain alarm level is reached. These systems vary from being remote, internet based-systems to solutions where you much be local at the plant. These systems are typically very expensive and the costs can only be justified on a plant's most critical pieces of equipment. When factoring in equipment and installation costs, these systems typically are in the $100s of thousands of dollars. Where Bently Nevada made their name was on power generation plant's generators and turbines, you can imagine that the lifeline of their plant can justify this type of expense.


Wireless Monitoring System

wireless.pngOver the last 10 years, wireless technology has improved significantly and there are a lot of players in the market touting their wireless vibration system. Big players in this market are CSI/Emerson (9420 system shown to the right), Waites Wireless , KCF Technologies, IMI Sensors, and more. In reality, almost every company that makes vibration equipment of some kind is either working on or already selling a wireless monitoring system. The interesting part of wireless monitoring systems is that they are all very different. Many have advanced features (detailed analysis, etc.) like the wired systems, but allow for simpler installation by being wireless. Some are battery powered and some require a hookup to a power source. These systems typically do not collect data as frequently as the wired system but still collect on basis in seconds, which is still very powerful. These systems do vary in prices from manufacturer to manufacturer and system to system but typically cost upwards of $5k to $10k per machine in just equipment costs.


ITT iALERT2 Equipment Health Monitor

ITTGoulds_I-Alert_2_Cube.jpgITT has created a product that really does not fit into any of the other categories above, called the iALERT2 Equipment Health Monitor. This product is a wireless product that works off of Bluetooth technology and collects data every 5 minutes. This product also automatically collects FFT and time waveform data for detailed analysis when the device detects levels in alarm on two consecutive readings. Many very powerful tools but in an overall inexpensive package. The affordability and flexibility of this product is what really puts it into a category of its own. For under $500 you can install a sensor on a machine and download the free application to your phone or tablet. 


Comparing all of the systems and technologies

Below you will see a chart that ITT put together to show the average annualized cost of monitoring 500 machines. This will help to show the differences in data collection time and overall cost of all of the above shown technologies and systems.

Anualized Monitoring of 500 machines.png

As you can see, each system and technology has its place, you just have to decide which system works the best for you. You also may require all of the technologies. However, understand each technologies place will help you know where to apply each one.


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Justin Hatfield

HECO - All Systems Go



About the author:

 Justin Hatfield  is Vice President of Operations at HECO. He is responsible for Electric Motor & Drive Sales, Electric Motor & Generator Repairs, Spare Solutions, and Predictive Services. Justin was instrumental in developing HECO MAPPS (Motor and Powertrain Performance Systems) which focuses on “why” you have a motor problem instead of simply “What” product or service should be recommended. HECO is an EASA Accredited Service Center for Electric Motors as well as a provider of predictive maintenance services and products throughout the United States.

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