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BAD vibrations

When a mechanical issue arises and maintenance pros are called upon to troubleshoot, tight budgets and time constraints can get in the way of a prompt diagnosis.


When a mechanical issue arises and maintenance pros are called upon to troubleshoot, tight budgets and time constraints can get in the way of a prompt diagnosis. Now there’s an instrument that will help them get to the bottom of problems fast, and they don’t have to be experts in vibration analysis to use it.

The 810 Vibration Tester from Fluke Electronics Canada in Mississauga, Ont. diagnoses common mechanical problems in motors, fans, blowers, belts and chain drives, gearboxes, couplings, pumps, compressors, closed coupled machines and spindles related to balance, looseness, misalignment and bearing failures.

The $9,357 hand-held tester is simple enough to use. Fluke has included onboard help menus with tips to get first-time measurements without a previous history and figure out the root cause of most problems.

The instrument has an “expert system” typically found in much higher-priced equipment, says product manager Colin Plastow. “You tell it what you’re looking at, the size of the motor, what it’s connected to, etc., and from that information, it can figure out a baseline for what the equipment would look like new. Under test, it compares the results to the baseline and can figure out what, if anything, is wrong,” says Plastow.

Evaluating machine condition typically requires readings taken over time that are compared to a baseline to estimate remaining operating life. The 810 compares vibration data to an extensive set of rules that have been developed over years of field experience.

You place the TEDS accelerometer on the machine using the magnetic mount or adhesive pad and connect it by cable to the tester. The accelerometer detects machine vibration along three planes of movement and the 810 applies a set of advanced algorithms, then delivers its diagnosis, rating it on a scale of one to four and offering a recommended repair.

Vibration can come from any number of things that cause problems. For example, bearing issues break down into four parameters: looseness, unbalance, misalignment and bearing failures.

“It will tell you whether the problem is acceptable, moderate, serious or extreme, what to do and how quickly,” says Plastow.

The message is in plain text (“moderate wear on bearing”) but a techie keen for more detail can dig down to see the actual “spectra.”

The 810’s key advantage? It gives non-experts an inexpensive way to spot vibration trouble long before it becomes and issue and fix the problem at a time when production will be least affected.

Software includes Viewer PC, compatible with Windows XP and Vista, that allows you to create machine setups on a computer and transfer them to the device, generate PDF reports, view vibration spectra in greater detail, and import and store jpegs and thermal images.

Visit www.fluke.com, and search “Fluke 810” for specs and additional information.