How Sound and Vibration Testing Are Used in Preventative Maintenance
When you own a warehouse, factory, or any other business that deals with large machinery and rotating equipment, maintenance plays a major role in your ability to function properly, efficiently, and effectively. Without regular maintenance, you could find yourself in difficult situations often.
With that said, not all maintenance strategies and methods are created equal. Two of the most common strategies include reactive maintenance and predictive maintenance. While reactive maintenance comes with some benefits that might appeal to you, it’s not the preferred strategy.
Reactive maintenance involves waiting to maintain and fix equipment until a problem occurs. At that point, you’ve already faced some sort of disruption to your business. With predictive maintenance, you catch those issues before they become a problem, avoiding any disruptions.
One of the most popular methods for predictive maintenance protocol is sound and vibration testing. It can do a lot to detect and identify problem areas before they result in a breakdown. This gives you an ample amount of time to repair the equipment before it gets shut down.
So, what is sound and vibration testing?
Sound and vibration testing, more formally known as noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) testing, is a maintenance method used by engineers and technicians. It tests and analyzes the acoustics of a system, piece of equipment, or machinery to ensure it’s working properly.
By searching for unwanted noise, sounds, and vibrations, maintenance technicians can not only detect problem areas but can determine the root cause of those issues. This helps them find worthy solutions to those problems before they get out of hand and result in disruptions.
NVH testing generally uses a combination of microphones, force gauges, load cells, electric currents, accelerometers, statistics, and more to determine the displacement, velocity, and acceleration of the vibrations in problematic systems compared to ones that run properly.
What Root Causes Can NVH Testing Diagnose?
As we mentioned above, NVH testing can help business owners prevent large disruptions in their day-to-day business by detecting, diagnosing, and finding solutions for problematic equipment and machinery. This helps maintain a predictive strategy for maintenance needs.
For example, NVH testing can help diagnose loose components, rubbing components, missing components, unwanted valve noises, surface defects, component misalignments, cracks, unwanted noise or defects from gears, balance issues, and missing or incorrect bearings.
In addition to that, NVH testing can reliably detect shaft run-out, tooth pitch errors, heat treatment issues, and more. Without NVH testing, your equipment will break down before you have a chance to fix it. With NVH testing, you can detect and diagnose those problems sooner.
The Many Applications of NVH Testing
As you can likely imagine, NVH testing has a wide range of applications and use cases. Since there are so many different pieces of equipment and machinery that utilize motors, gears, bearings, and rotating components, NVH testing can be utilized in a variety of unique ways.
For example, NVH testing is commonly used in the automotive industry, aerospace industry, white goods, HVAC units, small appliances, large appliances, production line machinery, medical devices, and much more. There’s not a lot of equipment that can’t benefit from it.
In fact, one study found that nearly 90% of all machinery can benefit in one way or another from frequent noise, vibration, and harshness testing. Here are some examples of use cases that show just how beneficial and convenient NVH testing can be when used properly.
Monitoring Water Pumps
When the fans, bearings, and motors of a water pump aren’t working properly, you’ll find an excessive motion that can be monitored with NVH testing. If not detected in a timely manner, it can result in customers not having clean water and pumps being down for an extended period.
Monitoring Compressors and Fans
Compressors and fans are found in a wide variety of equipment and machinery, including industrial equipment, HVAC units, and manufacturing clean rooms. With NVH testing, you can quickly detect issues and out-of-range occurrences that would’ve caused unwanted downtime.
Monitoring Motors, Gears, and Belts
When you think about all the different equipment and machinery that utilize motors, gears, and belts, you start to see just how useful NVH testing can be. When these components make unnecessary sounds and vibrations, it usually means there’s a discrepancy somewhere.
Monitoring Wind Turbines
Wind turbines generally have a rotor speed of 5rpm to 30rpm. By measuring gear mesh and bearing defect frequencies, technicians can quickly determine where the issue is and work towards a solution. Before you know it, repair decisions are made and taken care of.
Monitoring Rolling Bearings
Rotating equipment is almost always home to rolling bearings. Over time, these components can become damaged, misaligned, or not work properly. While bearing fatigue used to be a good sign of defect, technicians recently learned that it’s not always the case. That’s where NVH testing comes in handy.
Benefits of Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) Testing
Noise, vibration, and harshness testing can do a lot for any business, warehouse, factory, or individual. It improves customer satisfaction by ensuring product quality before it ever makes its way to the customers. It also improves the efficiency of production lines by maintaining integrity.
In addition to its uses in the production of products, it helps maintain the integrity of appliances and machines well after purchase. By giving technicians an extra measurement method to detect problem areas, owners can properly fix that equipment before having to shut it down.
Overall, NVH testing can help you remain dedicated to predictive and preventive maintenance, opposed to reactive maintenance. It allows you to stay efficient and on top of the things that matter most to your business's day-to-day routine. It makes you and your employees look good.
If you need help integrating NVH testing into your daily, weekly, or monthly routine, contact Mechanical Testing Inc. today. We provide quality building commissioning services and full project awareness to ensure quality, efficiency, and efficacy across all platforms.
We can’t wait to work with you and look forward to growing together.