What Are Vibration Sensors ?

Vibration in a rotating and/or reciprocating machinery system is the back-and-forth movement or oscillation of the machines and components that make up the system. While vibration in industrial equipment is often a normal part of machine operation, it also can be a sign – or the cause – of a problem. If left unchecked, the increasing vibration can cause a progressively deteriorating fault condition, leading to asset component damage – or even a catastrophic failure. Proactive vibration monitoring is the best course of action to prevent catastrophic failures, reduce downtime, and lower maintenance costs, and a vibration sensors are the most effective means for vibration monitoring.

There are three primary types of vibration sensors, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Accelerometers – Measure absolute vibration acceleration directly

  • Velocity Sensors – Measure absolute vibration velocity directly

  • Displacement Sensors (Proximity Probes or Eddy Current Probes) - Measure relative vibration in displacement directly (DC – static displacement / AC – variable displacement

Accelerometers are excellent sensors for rolling element bearing and gear fault detection. They are also great for detecting unbalance, misalignment, bent shaft, lose or broken parts, component resonances, etc. Accelerometers are the most common sensor used in vibration monitoring applications.

Velocity sensors are easy to install and are great for general vibration measurement and monitoring on rotating and reciprocating machinery. Velocity sensors are electrodynamic, which means they self-generate their signal, so they require no power supply.

Displacement sensors, also called a proximity probe or Eddy current probe, are non-contact sensors that measure displacement directly and are used to monitor shaft motion and internal clearances. Displacement sensors are reliable and are excellent for protection and monitoring of turbo machinery – regardless of the speed.


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