Judd Jones - Article

This PDM Technician has a new trick!

RDI Technologies has changed my life in both of my careers.  Coming from 2 decades of waking to an alarm clock at 4:30 a.m. to now no alarm clock, and my commute to work being a 40-foot walk across my house to my desk has been quite an adjustment. Luckily, I get to break the desk work up by traveling to customer facilities and seeing many different manufacturing processes. As I have traveled around the Northwestern United States visiting customers, I have come to realize that in my previous role as a PDM Technician in the lumber industry, I did not even scratch the surface of the full potential of Motion Amplification™.

The thing that never ceases to amaze me is how many times a Motion Amplification™ video has made me say to myself “How stupid are you?”. Vibration Analysis is a skill learned through good training, repetition, and a good mentor (if you are lucky). The abstract nature of it makes the learning curve steep. I can’t tell you how many times I found a machine problem with my vibration data collector on a monthly route, then after analyzing the data, was still at a loss for the cause of the elevated vibration (usually vibration at the turning speed of the machine). 

Once my management purchased the Iris M™ for us to incorporate into our reliability program, my workflow quickly began to change. It looked something like this:

  • Find elevated vibration on a monthly vibration route
  • Study the spectrums and waveforms for 2 hours 
  • Still confused, spend 20 minutes shooting a Motion Amplification™ video of the asset Watch 3 seconds of the Motion Amplification™ video 
  • Ask myself “How stupid are you”
  • Write a work order to repair the defect clearly seen in the video 
  • Shoot a follow-up video to verify the repair

Then things began to change. The occurrence of randomly elevated vibration found on the monthly vibration routes began to decrease because we were improving the machines, and when it did occur, it was becoming more common for me to be able to analyze the vibration data and find the issue because I was becoming a better analyst. Seeing a Motion Amplification™ video of my machine and comparing that to the waveform of the vibration data of the same machine was The Most Powerful learning tool I had as a vibration analyst. 

I am sure it is different for everybody, but as an analyst, I would make little movies in my head of how the machine was moving to create the shapes of vibration energy I was seeing in the waveform. What better way to learn how to create these movies in your head than seeing actual movies that show the movement of the machine? This brings me back to where I dropped the ball. 

I should have used the free time created by the improved reliability and ventured out into the sawmill with the Iris M and shot wide-angled videos on areas of the facility with no focus on a single asset. Let me explain: Once I joined the RDI Technologies team,  I began looking through their library of Motion Amplification™ videos.  I noticed a pattern in these videos along with the videos I’ve shot at customer sites since joining the team. If you look at nearly every Motion Amplification™ video that is not tightly focused on a single asset, you will see multiple issues. 

They may be small issues, like a gauge or small-bore pipe resonant at the turning speed of the machine or looseness on a machine in the background of the video behind the machine of interest. These issues, if not dealt with, will ultimately lead to downtime. They are the bearing and base issues of tomorrow. The problem is, these issues often go undetected until they fail, or until they begin vibrating with enough amplitude to be detected on a monthly vibration route at the bearings on a nearby asset. 

In the reliability community, we have been led down the road of vibration analysis being the king of “World Class” reliability programs. It wasn’t necessarily by design; vibration data collectors were the best technology for the job at the time and still are in many instances, I just think it has gotten out of hand. The problem with the status quo is that we take vibration readings on bearings in the middle of every asset and then run on to the next machine to get vibration data on its bearings. A good reliability program monitors the bearings on EVERY MACHINE, right? So, we build more routes and monitor the bearings on every machine. This is time-consuming, so we add more analysts and build alarms to assist us in analyzing the data for only the machines that have an increase in vibration amplitude. This leads to teams of vibration analysts running like crazy to take vibration on only the bearings, and 80% of them HAVE NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM!!! 

In my experience, these machines may be running smoother than a sewing machine at the bearings, but they still have problems. These problems may be a minor defect in the base, excess movement due to unbalance, or a resonant pipe on a pump. If not dealt with, these are the bearing and base defects of tomorrow. These issues can be easily seen and diagnosed with a Motion Amplification™ video. The best part is you don’t need a Ph.D. in vibration analysis to understand why it’s moving. You have a video that shows where and why it’s moving. 

So, the next time you’re sitting at your desk dreading taking vibration data on a machine that has never had downtime or shown any remarkable vibration data, try taking a Motion Amplification™ video of the entire asset instead and make an improvement to the machine that will make sure it stays that way.

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