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Phase Measurement & Transducer Effect

In our previous newsletters, we discussed the collection and analysis of phase measurements using a displacement probe. What would happen if we did not use a displacement probe to collect our phase measurements? Would the phase reading be affected? Yes it would.

Thus far we have used a displacement probe. As the high spot passed the displacement probe the sensor indicated the increase in vibration level. In the case of an out-of-balance shaft, the vibration pattern would be sinusoidal. And if the high spot happened to be in-line with the tachometer reference (our reflective tape), the phase reading would be zero degrees.

We learned earlier that the point of maximum displacement occurs at a different point in the cycle to the maximum acceleration and velocity:

But now we will replace our displacement probe with a velocimeter. For the moment we will keep it simple and assume that the sensor purely measures the instantaneous velocity of the vibration and does not introduce any phase shifts.

We do see a change in the reading. It now reads -90 degrees. The vibration waveform leads the reference tachometer signal by 90 degrees. We learned in the fundamentals that there is a phase relationship between displacement, velocity and acceleration. Velocity leads displacement by 90 degrees, so we will see that change in our reading.

If we use a velocity sensor to measure vibration we could easily think that the heavy spot leads the reference spot by 90. In this graphic you can see the actual position of the heavy spot (in-line with the reflective tape) and the apparent position of the high spot. We see this because at that point in the rotation of the shaft the velocity is at its greatest.

What if we now used an accelerometer? The phase is shifted by a further 90 degrees. It now reads -180 degrees. Acceleration leads displacement by 180 degrees.

If we use an accelerometer to measure vibration we could easily think that the heavy spot is on the opposite side of the shaft to the phase reference (it leads by 180). In this graphic you can see the actual position of the heavy spot (in-line with the reflective tape) and the apparent position of the high spot. We see this because at that point in the rotation of the shaft the acceleration is at its greatest.

So, the vibration transducer used does affect the phase reading. But do we care? If we are performing vibration analysis or we are studying resonances, and all we are trying to understand is how one part of the machine is changing in relation to another part of the machine, then we actually do not care. Well learn more about this later, but in brief, we dont care because all of these phase shifts do not change as long as the speed of the machine and the instrumentation do not change. We are not interested in absolute phase, just relative phase. However, if we are performing machine balancing then we do care about the sensor; for two reasons. The first reason, which is a little off the topic, relates to sensitivity. A displacement probe measures the amount of displacement, which may be quite small. An accelerometer measures the vibration which is proportional to force (remember Force = mass x acceleration).

The more relevant reason right now relates to the selection of the position of the trial weight. You see, if we were to take a vibration reading (the original run) and get a phase reading of 30 degrees, then we could potentially use that information to select the appropriate position for the balance correction weight. If the angle was 30 degrees (and we are using a displacement (proximity) probe), then we might place the correction weight opposite that point; at 210 degrees. If we used a velocity probe then we have to adjust the reading by 90 degrees first. And if we used an accelerometer then we either have to adjust the reading by 180. Is that correct? Unfortunately, it is not necessarily correct. We have made an assumption about our readings which is not necessarily valid. We assumed that the reading from the displacement probe of the high spot is the same as the heavy spot. When we are balancing a rotor we are trying to counteract the effect of the heavy spot, not the high spot. Unfortunately, they may not be the same.

From Mobius Institute email Series 1 - Issue 10 - Mar 12, 2014