Vibration Analysis Data in Detail​

Table of Contents

Vibration Analysis Data in Detail​

Time-Domain Vibration Measurements and What They Tell Us​

In the era of Industry 4.0, where smart factories and advanced automation are transforming the industrial landscape, predictive maintenance has become a crucial component of modern manufacturing. Time-domain vibration analysis plays a vital role in enabling predictive maintenance by providing critical insights into machine health and performance. This article will explore the importance of time-domain vibration analysis, the information it provides, best practices for implementation, and its role in creating a predictive maintenance system for Industry 4.0.

Time-Domain Vibration Measurements and What They Tell Us

Section 1: Time-Domain Vibration Analysis and its importance

Machines that have rotating components like motors, gearboxes, etc. have their unique vibration signature, which is a combination of that of the individual components. There are standard limits to these vibrations depending on the machine type and as the amplitude of the vibrations increases this indicates issues such as unbalance, looseness/deformity, bearing wear, etc. Vibrations generally happen as a function of time; however, a more detailed analysis can also look into their individual frequency components:

  • Vibration in the time domain is the overall vibration of the machine. It’s what you feel when you put your hand on the machine and it is the combination of the vibrations of each individual component.
  • Vibration in the frequency domain isolates each of the individual components. This allows you to pinpoint sources of defects before the machine catastrophically fails and replace only the ailing component.

Time-Domain Vibration Analysis and its importance

1.1 Early Fault Detection and Prevention

Time-domain vibration analysis is essential for early fault detection and prevention in mechanical systems. By continuously monitoring and analyzing the vibration signals of machinery in the time domain, subtle changes in their behaviour can be detected. These changes may indicate the onset of potential faults, such as misalignment, imbalance, or bearing wear. Early identification of these issues allows maintenance personnel to intervene before a failure occurs, ensuring the continued operation of critical equipment.

1.2 Enhancing Safety and Reliability of Machinery

The ability to detect and prevent faults before they escalate into more serious problems contributes to a safer working environment and increases the reliability of machinery. This is particularly important in industries where equipment failure can pose significant risks to personnel or the environment. Time-domain vibration analysis helps to maintain the integrity of the machinery, reducing the likelihood of unexpected failures and ensuring that systems operate at peak performance.

1.3 Reducing Downtime and Maintenance Costs

Unexpected equipment failures can lead to costly downtime, particularly in high-throughput manufacturing processes. Time-domain vibration analysis enables organizations to minimize unplanned downtime by detecting faults before they result in catastrophic failures. By identifying and addressing machine faults in a timely manner, maintenance costs associated with repairs and component replacements can be reduced. This proactive approach to maintenance can also extend the service life of machinery, maximizing return on investment.

1.4 Optimizing Maintenance Schedules

Traditional maintenance practices often involve reactive or scheduled maintenance, which can be inefficient and costly. Time-domain vibration analysis helps organizations transition from these practices to condition-based or predictive maintenance strategies. By monitoring the actual condition of the equipment and addressing issues as they arise, maintenance efforts can be focused on areas of greatest need. This targeted approach reduces the likelihood of unexpected failures, improves overall efficiency, and allows for better allocation of maintenance resources.

1.5 Assessing Machine Health and Performance

Time-domain vibration analysis provides valuable insights into the overall health and performance of mechanical systems. By comparing current vibration data with historical trends and known baseline values, it is possible to identify deviations from normal operating conditions. This information can be used to proactively address potential issues, ensuring that machinery operates at optimal levels. In addition, time-domain analysis can be used to assess the fatigue life of components, allowing maintenance personnel to plan for replacements or repairs before catastrophic failures occur. This information is critical for maintaining the integrity of the machinery and preventing costly downtime.

Section 2: Information Provided by Time-Domain Vibration Analysis

2.1 Time Signal Representation and Characteristics

In time-domain vibration analysis, vibrations are recorded as time signals, representing the amplitude of the vibration as a function of time. These signals can be measured using various sensors, such as accelerometers or displacement transducers. Key characteristics of the vibration signal in the time domain include amplitude, frequency, and phase, which provide insights into the nature and behavior of the mechanical system.

2.2 Time History Analysis

Studying the vibration signal’s time history can reveal important information about the system’s dynamic behavior. Time history analysis involves examining the waveform over time to identify features such as transient response, steady-state response, and resonance. These characteristics can help diagnose potential issues or predict system performance under various operating conditions.

2.3 Peak, RMS, and Crest Factor

Quantifying the vibration signal is crucial for understanding its impact on the mechanical system. Peak, RMS (Root Mean Square), and Crest Factor are important parameters for this purpose. The Peak value is the maximum amplitude measured over a period of time for a given vibrational system. RMS is the square root of the average of the squared amplitudes that is a good indicator for the overall vibration load of the machine and of how it might or might not degrade over time.

Peak, RMS, and Crest Factor

The Crest Factor is the ratio of peak amplitude to RMS amplitude. It is good for detecting infrequent peak impulses as they increase whereas they have negligible impact on the RMS.

These parameters provide a comprehensive representation of the vibration signal’s intensity and can be used to assess the severity of potential issues.

2.4 Time-domain Statistical Measures

Statistical measures, such as mean, variance, and standard deviation, help describe the overall behavior of the vibration signal in the time domain. These measures provide insight into the nature of the system and can be used to detect trends, anomalies, or changes in the system’s behavior over time. By comparing these measures with established baseline values, it is possible to identify deviations that may indicate emerging faults or system degradation.

2.5 Time-domain Waveform Analysis

By analyzing the shape of the waveform, specific types of vibrations can be identified, such as sinusoidal, random, or impulsive. This information can be used to diagnose issues or predict system performance. For example, a sinusoidal waveform may indicate a well-balanced system, whereas an impulsive waveform could suggest the presence of a mechanical fault, such as a bearing defect or a loose component.

This type of analysis is especially valuable in cases where the statistical analysis can not account for the impulsive nature of the vibration/fault and is great in combination with overall vibration level analysis.

2.6 Fatigue Analysis and Life Prediction

Time-domain vibration analysis can be used to assess the fatigue life of components or structures. This involves examining the cumulative effect of cyclic stresses caused by vibrations to determine the likelihood of failure or the remaining useful life of the component. By understanding the fatigue behavior of a system, maintenance personnel can plan for replacements or repairs before catastrophic failures occur, ensuring the continued operation of critical equipment.

Time-domain Analysis has the following benefits:

  • Sensors providing time-domain measurements are cheap and readily available
  • Cost-effective, good for monitoring cheap machine components, that are at the same time critical for operation
  • Time-domain data is easy to analyze and no special training is required to interpret it

There are some negatives as with any method, too:

  • Not good for observing individual components, but rather overall machine performance
  • The component could be already damaged at the point where it is identified as problematic
  • Not sensitive enough in some cases

Section 3: Best Practices for Implementing Time-Domain Vibration Analysis

3.1 Selecting Appropriate Sensors and Data Acquisition Systems

The success of time-domain vibration analysis relies heavily on the quality of the data collected. Therefore, it is crucial to select appropriate sensors, such as accelerometers, velocity sensors, or displacement transducers, based on the specific requirements of the mechanical system being monitored. Additionally, a suitable data acquisition system that provides accurate, reliable, and high-resolution data is essential for effective analysis.

Nowadays, one of the best options when selecting the sensor type would be a Piezoelectric or MEMS sensor such as the NCD Industrial Vibration Sensor. It provides great data granularity, and multiple modes of operation, and has good accuracy. At the same time, its battery life of up to 10 years and wireless capabilities make it easy to install and maintain.

motor sensor ideal location_2

An additional feature that would be considered a must for an Industry 4.0 monitoring system would be the ability to wirelessly transfer the measurement data and forward it to a network/cloud-based platform. This simplifies deployment, reduces installation time, and provides a method of aggregating, retaining, and manipulating the data efficiently.

NCD sensors support a variety of wireless protocols like LoRaWAN, DigiMesh, Wi-Fi, etc. This allows them to be mounted without restraints introduced by wiring or the need to be connected to secondary data processing devices.

Selecting Appropriate Sensors and Data Acquisition Systems

3.2 Ensuring Proper Sensor Installation and Calibration

Proper installation and calibration of sensors are critical to obtaining accurate and reliable vibration data. Poorly mounted or misaligned sensors can introduce errors and compromise the quality of the analysis. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for mounting and calibrating sensors, as well as periodically checking their performance to ensure consistent and accurate data collection.

NCD sensors come factory calibrated and are offered with a variety of mounting options. Check out the Learn section on the NCD website for best practices on sensor installation.

3.3 Establishing Baseline Values and Performance Thresholds

Developing a comprehensive understanding of the normal operating conditions of a mechanical system is essential for effective time-domain vibration analysis. Establishing baseline values for vibration parameters, such as amplitude, frequency, and phase, helps identify deviations from normal operation that may indicate potential faults. Additionally, defining performance thresholds for these parameters allows for the early detection of issues and provides clear guidelines for when maintenance actions should be taken.

One could use look to the following General Vibration Guidelines to use as a benchmark when evaluating the performance of the system for the values of Acceleration and Velocity:

Excellent condition, No action required

≤0.01g & ≤0.5mm/sec

Good Condition, No action is required unless the machine is noisy or running at an abnormal temperature

≤0.35g & ≤0.8mm/sec

Fair Condition, No action is required unless the machine is noisy or running at an abnormal temperature

≤0.5g & ≤2.0mm/sec

Rough Condition, possible action is required if the machine is noisy, and also check the bearing temperature

≥0.75g & ≤5mm/sec

Very Rough Conditions, further analysis and see if it continues. Also, check for noise and temperature

≥1.0g ≤7.5mm/sec

Danger Level, there is definitely a problem in the machine or installation. Check the temperature Log

≥1.5g & ≤12.0mm/sec

Shut down the machine immediately and look for possible causes. Call a technician for immediate repair

≥2.5g & ≤18mm/sec

For Heavy Machinery these readings could be 1.5 times to 2 times more than listed above.

3.4 Developing a structured data analysis and interpretation process

Effective time-domain vibration analysis requires a structured and systematic approach to data analysis and interpretation. This process should involve identifying key features and patterns in the time-domain data, comparing them with established baseline values and performance thresholds and determining the implications of any deviations. Regularly reviewing and updating the analysis process helps ensure that the latest techniques and best practices are incorporated, maximizing the effectiveness of the predictive maintenance program.

Take note that while time-domain vibration analysis provides valuable insights into machine health and performance, it is often beneficial to combine it with other diagnostic techniques, such as frequency-domain analysis or thermographic analysis. Integrating multiple diagnostic methods can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the mechanical system, enabling more accurate fault detection and diagnosis. By leveraging the strengths of each technique, a robust predictive maintenance strategy can be developed that effectively addresses the unique challenges of the specific industrial application.

The NCD Vibration sensor line comes with FFT built-in for the purpose of delivering frequency-domain ready data for direct evaluation of potential faults in specific components based on the measurement spectra.

All NCD wireless sensors work with the most popular platforms like Node-RED, AWS IoT Core, GCP IoT Core, Azure IoT, Ubidots, etc. Integrating time-domain analysis with other diagnostic techniques is made possible as there is the option for sending the data raw or pre-processed to a local or cloud-based platform in order to evaluate it and display it in a human-readable format.

Node-RED, AWS IoT Core, GCP IoT Core, Azure IoT, Ubidots

Section 4: Time-Domain Vibration Analysis and Predictive Maintenance in Industry 4.0

Time-Domain Vibration Analysis and Predictive Maintenance in Industry 4.0

4.1 Integration with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Devices and Systems

In the context of Industry 4.0, the integration of time-domain vibration analysis with IIoT devices and systems enables real-time data collection, analysis, and communication across the entire manufacturing process. By connecting sensors, data acquisition systems, and analytical tools through IIoT, organizations can create a seamless flow of information that supports proactive maintenance decision-making and enhances overall system performance.

4.2 Real-time Monitoring and Data-driven Decision-making

Industry 4.0 emphasizes the use of real-time data to drive informed decision-making. Time-domain vibration analysis can provide immediate insights into machine behavior, enabling maintenance personnel to identify and address issues as they arise. By leveraging real-time monitoring capabilities, organizations can optimize their maintenance strategies and rapidly respond to emerging faults, reducing downtime and maximizing operational efficiency.

4.3 Advanced Data Analytics and Machine Learning for Fault Detection and Diagnosis

The vast amounts of data generated by time-domain vibration analysis can be harnessed through advanced analytics and machine learning techniques. By applying algorithms and models that learn from historical data and trends, organizations can identify patterns and correlations that may indicate emerging faults or predict future system performance. This advanced level of fault detection and diagnosis helps organizations create more effective and adaptive predictive maintenance strategies.

4.4 Implementation of Digital Twin Technology for Predictive Maintenance

Digital twins, virtual representations of physical assets, can play a crucial role in predictive maintenance by simulating the behavior of mechanical systems under various operating conditions. By integrating time-domain vibration analysis data with digital twin models, organizations can gain deeper insights into the impact of different factors on system performance, predict potential failure modes, and optimize maintenance interventions to extend equipment life and reduce costs.

4.5 Transition from Reactive or Scheduled Maintenance to Condition-based Maintenance

The adoption of time-domain vibration analysis in Industry 4.0 supports the transition from traditional reactive or scheduled maintenance practices to more effective condition-based maintenance strategies. By focusing on the actual condition of equipment and addressing issues as they arise, organizations can minimize the likelihood of unexpected failures and maximize the overall efficiency of their maintenance programs.

This in turn results in greater productivity, no unexpected downtime and better cost efficiency in both monetary and manhour terms.


Time-domain vibration analysis is a powerful tool for understanding machine behavior and detecting potential faults before they lead to catastrophic failures. By implementing time-domain analysis in the context of Industry 4.0, organizations can create robust predictive maintenance systems that minimize downtime, reduce costs, and enhance the safety and reliability of their machinery. As the industrial landscape continues to evolve, time-domain vibration analysis will remain a cornerstone of effective predictive maintenance strategies for the factories of the future.


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