Vibration Based Condition Monitoring – Risk and Critical Factor Assessment Best Practices

Ron Kittle, Managing Director, SPM Instrument, Inc.


This presentation will introduce a curve showing the operational risk in combination with the P-F curve, illistrating that the failure risk increases exponentially when the a machines damaged components gets worse.
Accessing plant assets based on risk and critically factors is extremely important, Class A being the most critical and Class D being the least Critical.
Overall vibration measurements could be acceptable for non critical D-rated assets, even routinely measured on a route basis with portable instruments.
For C classed assets with some significance for the operation of the plant, low performance online continuous measuring systems can be acceptable, possible wirless systems.
For A and B class assets with higher risk to plant operations, a high performance online continuous monitoring system is essential.

A system relying on overall vibration levels will lead to a very high risk of functional failure.
A low performance system using enveloping or spectrums (like the one with the high noise level shown before) detect damages earlier, but it still means a substantial risk for a functional failure.

But with a high performance system provides very early damage indication leads to a very small risk of a sudden functional failure.
Another very important aspect of having a high performance system to monitor critical (but also less critical equipment) is the ability to extend the lifetime of the assets.
If a fault in the asset is detected in a early stage there are possibilities to do corrective actions to prolong the operation of the asset. A number of possible actions can be taken and if the damage is minor the chance of extending the asset lifetime is high.
By introducing repeated corrective actions if the asset condition goes down further, the life time can be increased even more.
A corrective action when the damage already is significant can only prolong the equipment lifetime to a limited degree, and a very late corrective action might have no influence at all.

1. Combining risk factors, P-F Curve, and asset critical assessment.
2. Best suited measurements, continuous, online, wireless, or route based.
3. Extending asset life through proper machine assessment.


Ron Kittle, Managing Director of SPM Instrument, Inc., brings with him over 20 years of experience in the maintenance and reliability fields, primarily focusing on condition monitoring products related to vibration analysis across many industries. He has worked both directly and indirectly with SPM Instrument for 13 years. Ron has extensive experience in wireless and on-line condition monitoring systems, most recent notable work in the wind energy and mining industries. His career started in the US Army where he spent time as a Combat Vehicle Mechanic. Other early career experiences include oil analysis on high voltage transformers and work in the power generation plants where he began focusing on predictive maintenance techniques. Ron has studied electronics at the National Institute of Electronics, holding many certifications in predictive maintenance technologies such as thermography and vibration analysis.