This post was authored by Roy Tomalino, professional services engineer, and Katie Turner, marketing manager, at Beamex.

Seismic velocity measurements provide ideal resolution at typical rotating equipment running speeds. Vibration is always transmitted through the bearings used on rotating equipment. It has been proven time and time again that measuring vibration on rotating equipment is the most universally effective predictive maintenance practice for critical pumps, motors, compressors, fans, cooling towers and rollers. For example, over time, industrial motor bearings wear out and begin to wobble.

Eventually these bearings will need to replaced, or the machine will fail. But how do you measure the bearing performance to be sure you aren’t changing them out too soon, or in an even worse case, waiting until the machine breaks down and it’s too late? There is a whole world of 4-20 mA loop vibration sensors, such as seismic velocity 4-20 mA transmitters, and they are gaining in popularity.  

Simple and cost effective, these sensors protect and monitor vital plant machinery. They measure the vibration in the bearings, helping to predict and forecast machine failure. They interface directly with the PLC, DCS or SCADA systems already in place for process instrumentation. Thus, no additional budget need be spent on monitoring or data acquisition.

Minimal upfront costs

Plants that do not monitor vibration can enter into the practice with minimal upfront costs. 4-20 mA vibration sensors allow them to perform vibration trending and notify a technician for a more detailed diagnostic test of the machinery when its vibration alarm threshold is crossed. Still, these sensors only help in predictive maintenance, if they are providing accurate measurements. They need to be calibrated too.

During a presentation at an ISA process control conference, Michael Scott, industrial product manager and Certified Category II Vibration Analyst with The Modal Shop, presented “Field calibration and testing of industrial vibration protection systems.” During this demonstration, he calibrated a 4-20 mA vibration sensor.

Using a shaker as a standard, he entered the make, model, and serial number into calibration management software (CMS). Then, a tag for the sensor was created with an input of 0-1 inches per second peak, and an output of 4 to 20 mA (measured). The documenting calibrator prompted him to set the shaker to specific target points and log associated mA readings.

When uploading the test, the CMS prompted him to select the shaker from a pick-list of standards to fully document what was used to perform the test (shaker serial number for the input and documenting calibrator serial number for the output). The outcome is a fully automated, paperless vibration sensor calibration with a calibration certificate to provide proof and traceability, which not only verifies the accuracy of the sensor, but can be useful during audits, such as an OSHA VPP Star safety audit.

About the Author
Roy Tomalino has been teaching calibration management for 14 years. Throughout his career, he has taught on four different continents to people from over 40 countries. His previous roles include technical marketing engineer and worldwide trainer for Hewlett-Packard and application engineer with Honeywell. Today, Roy is responsible for all Beamex training activities in North America.

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About the Author
During her career, Katie Turner has developed and executed a number of marketing strategies and campaigns, with the past five years solely focused on marketing within the automation industry. Currently, Katie oversees marketing operations for Beamex’ North American markets.

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