A common situation... 20 years ago someone decided that utilizing vibration analysis was a good idea in your plant. Maybe the idea came from a vendor or an internal Predictive Maintenance (PdM) guru. Either way you evaluated it and it just didnt make sense to have an internal team dedicated to this so you decided to outsource it.
How did you choose which company to use?
Was it a simple decision and go with the person who was bringing the idea to your plant? Did you develop a specification and go out for bid? How you made this determination is something to review down the road.
We see it all the time, one company doing the vibration route for a plant and they have only ever used that one company. Sometimes it has been 20 years, sometimes its been 10 or 5 years. Either way, one company and they really havent looked at other options. Here are some factors that you must consider when choosing a vibration route company:
Who owns the data?
Who owns the raw file of data from all the years of data collection? It is yours or is it your vendors? This is an important factor when looking at what company to use. Many vibration consultants will hold this data "hostage" as it will force you to continue doing business with them or start all over. Dictating that you own the data from the start, to protect your company, is a very simple but important practice.
How are you being charged?
Are you being charged "per point"? Are you being charged a flat fee? Are you being charged an hourly rate? What is the definition of a point? Is it a bearing or is it each reading taken on all three axis? Are you paying for every machine every time, even if its not running? Are you being charged for only what data is collected on? What if you ask to add an additional machine, are you being nickle and dimed to death? Or are you a fixed fee that balances out the two for consistency and ease of billing? There are many ways to charge for vibration route services, you should consider all the options when you select a vibration route company as whomever may seem like the lowest price option isnt always in the end.
What are the certifications of who you are using?
Vibration Analysis is one technology where industry certifications are available. Either The Vibration Institute, Technical Associates of Charlotte, or Mobius Institute, they all offer certification programs that put the skills and experience of vibration analysts into "Categories". The definitions of these certification vary by certifying body. However, these certifications are important to understand the technical level of the individual performing, analyzing, and administrating your vibration route. (Here is an article we wrote about certifications).
How many people does the company have?
How many people are on-staff by the company that your outsource your vibration analysis program to? Many vibration consultants are one or two man operations with no additional resources. What if something happened to the one individual? Would your program be fine or would you be stuck and without support, starting over? A company with multiple, certified, individuals who are trained in your specific route and plant is an important factor to keep in mind.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing your viration route and analysis company. There are also many factors beyond what is described in this short article. Feel free to comment with other suggestions!
Justin T. Hatfield
HECO - All Systems Go
About the author:
Justin T. 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.