Analysis Equipment Pumps Reliability & Maintenance Center Vibration monitoring

Manage Pump-System Vibration With Sensors

Jane Alexander | January 21, 2019

Strategically placed triaxial sensors are one of the easiest ways to continuously monitor vibration in fluid-handling and other rotating-equipment systems, regardless of equipment location.

Fluid-handling pumping systems are deployed everywhere in industry. Unfortunately, these workhorses have always been subject to some degree of vibration during operation.

In a recent blog post, John Bernet of Fluke Corp., Everett, WA (, noted that one of the easiest ways to identify vibration issues in rotating equipment, i.e., pumps, motors, compressors, fans, blowers, is with strategically placed triaxial sensors. By leveraging these types of sensors and the various technologies that support them, personnel can continuously monitor vibration in equipment, regardless of location. Bernet went on to list the top 10 applications for such sensors, more than half of which specifically involve fluid-handling pumping systems. Among them:

Wastewater sump pumps

These pumps are crucial for processing wastewater. Because such pumps are frequently located in distant or hard-to-reach areas, they often may receive minimal attention. Like other types of pumps, cavitation is also an issue with wastewater sump pumps. Bursting vapor bubbles cause vibration and the higher pressure can damage impellers. Remote monitoring instantly alerts technicians to unusual vibrations that could eventually cause drainage issues, unwanted tank-level changes, or other pump malfunctions.

Boiler feedwater pumps for cooling-tower fans

These pumps drive feedwater into steam boilers. Installing vibration-monitoring sensors on such systems makes it possible to detect a variety of existing and impending problems, including the presence of loose bolts and improper levels of suction pressure, discharge pressure, flow, pump speed, and/or power. The sensors will also send alarms when vibration exceeds pre-set limits.

Meat-processing-plant chillers

Process chillers are complex machines that incorporate components such as compressors, condensers, evaporators, pumps, pipes, and high-pressure-refrigerant relief valves. As with any motorized equipment, bearing wear is the main culprit in chiller failure. Vibration sensors provide early warning of refrigeration faults and help prevent inadequate chilling performance.

Dewatering pumps

Clogging is the most common cause of dewatering-pump failure. Corrosion, lack of lubrication, and contamination are the main causes of pump failure or bearing wear. As with other types of pumps, imbalance of a dewatering pump’s impeller may lead to vibration problems. If left unchecked, such faults can decrease pump reliability and ultimately cause extensive, costly damage.

Sucker-rod pumps

Simple in design, and often operating in remote areas and/or harsh working environments, these pumps pull oil from subterranean reservoirs. Because many of their components reside underground, oil-rig-equipment failure and repair can be extremely expensive. Wireless sensors are an easy way to remotely and continuously monitor these systems for vibration and, in the process, provide early warning of potential failures without the need to have personnel at the site. EP

John Bernet is an application specialist with Fluke Corp., Everett, WA. To learn more about a variety of condition-monitoring applications and solutions, visit and/or read Bernet’s complete Nov. 5, 2018, blog post.



Jane Alexander

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