Vibration monitoring is the measurement and documenting of passing movements in equipment, structures or the ground.
The occurrence of vibrations is inevitable in industries such as construction, mining and manufacturing. With the use of vibration monitoring equipment and various preventive measures, the adverse effects of vibrations can be controlled.
Why Monitor Vibrations?
Vibration monitoring is conducted to prevent excessive wear and tear, as well as structural damage to machinery, equipment and buildings. Effective vibration monitoring limits risks, as machinery operators and site managers are aware of the vibration levels and can take appropriate action.
In the case of building sites, vibration monitoring also allows construction companies to provide evidence that they are complying with local regulations.
Furthermore, monitoring vibrations is vital for maintaining worker wellbeing. There are long term effects workers could suffer through exposure to short term intense or prolonged vibrations.
Machinery & Equipment Vibration Monitoring
Vibration monitoring devices can detect bearing issues, misalignment issues and balance issues – all of which can cause exaggerated vibration. This can lead to excessive wear and tear and can ultimately result in a shortened lifespan for machinery components. Repair, replacement and downtime costs will increase as a result of this.
Vibration monitoring is therefore a key component of machinery maintenance and should be incorporated into your maintenance schedule. Remember, investing a little more time and effort into regular maintenance can reduce machinery costs – and save time – in the long-run.
High-tech vibration monitoring devices now come with embedded AI intelligence to learn, analyse and report on faults within your machinery or equipment.
Some devices are so sophisticated that they can analyse real-time data and produce instant surveys. This means users do not need to have a prior understanding of vibration data analysis.
Ground Vibration Monitoring
Ground vibration monitoring is the process of measuring and recording the vibrations in the ground using a specialised piece of ground vibration monitoring equipment.
A vibration monitor will measure the Peak Particle Velocity, the maximum speed at which a particular soil or rock particle is disturbed by seismic waves.
Vibration Monitoring Requirements and Responsibilities
For large construction projects, companies will commonly employ an engineer, with one of their primary tasks being to monitor and report on construction vibrations.
They will observe the continuous construction vibrations to ensure that they don’t cross a predetermined threshold based on local regulations. It would also be their responsibility to monitor any intense vibrations caused by blasts and heavy machinery.
Common Sources of Vibrations
Vibration causing operations that require monitoring to ensure no structural damage occurs include:
- Site demolition
- Impact Pile Driving
- Installation of deep foundations
- Heavy vehicle traffic
More specific tasks that may not effect nearby structures but may have an impact on workers include:
- Direct operation of construction equipment
- Small recurrent blasts
- Soil compaction
- Pavement breakers
Impacts of Vibrations on Site Workers
When people are exposed to vibrations over prolonged periods, it can damage joints, muscles and sensory nerves. Those with careers in operating heavy vehicles and construction equipment are at a high risk of adverse outcomes.
Disorders that could occur when constantly exposed to construction vibrations include:
- Hand-arm vibration (HAV) – Caused through regular exposure to high vibration hand tools and equipment.
- Vibration white finger – Damage to the circulatory system in the hands and fingers. It can become permanent if there is no action taken.
- Whole-body vibration – Caused when the whole body is vibrated for long periods.
These disorders can be prevented or reduced through precaution, including limiting and breaking up exposure to vibrations. More information can be found through Safe Work Australia’s workplace vibration guidance material.
The Impacts of Vibrations on Structures
Vibrations travel through the ground to surrounding areas, including areas upon which structures stand. The vibrations then run through the structure’s foundations, walls, floors and roof.
Depending on the structure’s integrity and the intensity of vibrations, this may not be an issue. However, if the vibrations are occurring at a level which the structure is not designed to withstand, they could cause damage to the building.
If vibrations are causing damage, the first signs will likely appear on load-bearing walls. These walls are designed to hold the structural integrity of a building and withstand movement caused by vibrations. However, the inflexible materials which cover these walls, such as plaster and wall tiles, will likely begin to crack.
Furthermore, if the bearing walls have aged or aren’t designed to withstand the intensity of the vibration, this could cause more invasive damage to the structure of the building.
Single Event Vibrations vs. Continuous Ground Vibrations
It is commonly thought that major vibration-causing events will cause the most damage to both structures and the well-being of local workers. However, when blasts or demolition are conducted with the proper equations and precautions, these vibrations can be controlled, with minor adverse effects.
Vibration damage is more commonly caused by neglected subtle ground vibrations over a prolonged period of time.
When a building is constantly subjected to ground vibrations, its structural integrity can be slowly diminished – even when it likely could have survived a higher wavelength of vibrations but for a short period.
This is much like the impact vibrations have on humans. If the human body is subjected to a high level of vibration, but for a short period, the body should have enough time to recover. However, nerves and blood circulation may suffer if the human body is subjected to continuous vibration without sufficient recovery time.
Contact Us About Vibration Monitoring Equipment for Your Machinery
Precautions against the adverse effects of construction vibration can be taken if the vibration source, intensity and reach are understood.
Statewide Bearings is a OneProd vibration monitoring equipment supplier, offering products such as the Bearing Defender, Falcon and Eagle.
If you need help in determining which vibration monitoring device is right for your machinery, contact the team in your local region for professional advice.