AEDC Team members use special motion camera to troubleshoot excessive vibrations

  • Published
  • By Jill Pickett

The Condition-Based Maintenance team at Arnold Air Force Base has added a new tool to their bag of vibration analysis methods – a Motion Amplification Camera.

As part of the CBM vibration program, readings are taken regularly from vibration sensors monitoring equipment in the Arnold Engineering Development Complex facilities.

“The vibration program is a predictive maintenance effort that has been on the base since the 90s,” said Matthew Breuhl, the AEDC CBM Vibration Lead. “Through the use of vibration analysis, it is possible to detect common faults or defects within rotating machinery before failure occurs. This can allow for more planned maintenance to be conducted and less reactionary, which is typically three to five times as costly.”

The capability of the vibration program was expanded in late 2018 with the addition of a Motion Amplification Camera. Vibration sensors enable the team to define the motion numerically, while the high-speed camera generates an amplified motion video allowing them to see the motion.

“We’ve found one of the most useful features of the Motion Amplification Camera is that it can visualize the motion of a machine, simplifying the explanation of a typical vibration problem,” Breuhl said. “We are able to show the video to team members needing to understand how the machine is actually moving.”

Over the past year-and-a-half, the team has used the camera to assist in identifying causes and recommending corrective actions for excessive vibrations at several locations around Arnold AFB, from expected components, such as motors and compressors, to atypical situations, such as piping.

At the AEDC Propulsion Wind Tunnel Facility, vibration levels reached problematic levels in the east and west blowers. The proposed solution was to rebalance the fans only. Using the camera, the team determined the problem was actually lack of stiffness at the base plate of the motor.

An unusual source of a vibration was identified with the camera in a cooler at the Engine Test Facility. The entire system was shaking. Using the camera, the team identified the major source of the vibrations appeared to be from fluid hammering within the piping.

The Motion Amplification Camera utilizes each pixel as a sensor to measure displacement and velocity. The operators input the distance of the machinery from the camera at multiple locations within the field of view, allowing the software to calculate the vibration amplitude.

“The addition of the Motion Amplification Camera to the predictive technology tool arsenal in the Condition-Based Maintenance group has proved extremely beneficial,” said Donna Spry, the AEDC Condition-Based Maintenance project manager. “When elevated vibration levels are detected, the camera can pinpoint the specific section of the equipment that is causing issues, significantly reducing time to troubleshoot the issue and determine the necessary corrections to be made.”