Column Condition-based Maintenance Predictive Maintenance Reliability

Motion Amplification: Seeing Is Believing

EP Editorial Staff | July 20, 2022

Motion Amplification is the latest science in the field of vibration and measurement of deflection, displacement, and movement not visible to the human eye. It works with traditional vibration analysis to advance asset reliability.

By Dr. Klaus M. Blache, Univ. of Tennessee Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC) and Dan Nower, P.E., RDI Technologies

In more than forty years of industrial reliability and maintenance involvement, I’ve seen many predictive technologies go from crude (yet functional) to becoming a game changer. Motion Amplification is one of those. We’ve been using it in our RMC training factory, and it has been easy to apply for demonstrating troubleshooting and integration into maintenance practices. This month, Dan Nower, Vice President of Corporate Accounts at RDI Technologies, Knoxville, TN (, helps us better understand motion amplification.

“Reliability programs and engineering are closely linked with the longevity and dependability of parts, products, and systems. Motion Amplification is the latest science in the field of vibration, measuring deflection, displacement, and movement not visible to the human eye. Using RDI Technologies’ patented camera and software technology, Motion Amplification turns every pixel into a sensor and measures vibration with incredible accuracy. It is intended to work together with traditional vibration analysis, but can take your reliability program to the next level and has significant advantages in the following areas:

RDI’s Iris systems enable a dramatic visualization of motion, enhancing the understanding of how machine components are interacting. This can certainly be achieved with traditional, accelerometer-based techniques, but Motion Amplification provides results 10 to 20 times faster.

The Iris systems provide communication between technical and non-technical resources without having to explain complicated graphs and vibration data. Motion Amplification illustrates how the machine, structure, and base are moving using a standard MP4 video format accessible to everyone.

The Motion Amplification data includes video of the visualized motion, along with full field-of-view amplitude and frequency of motion measurements acquired with zero contact. The system measures and amplifies all materials, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, concrete, and wood. It can pull out calibrated spectra and waveforms from anywhere in the field of view. Because it’s a non-contact system, it opens the door to shooting applications in restricted areas from a safe location.

Phase information is retained at all frequencies of interest. Every pixel is measured simultaneously, so phase information between all points in the field of view is maintained. Millions of individual displacement sensors (camera pixels) illustrate how all points in the field of view are moving, relative to one another.

When applying the Motion Amplification Frequency-Based Filtering feature, the results emulate an ODS (operating deflection shape) study in a much shorter time frame. Experienced users have estimated that Motion Amplification is as much as 10 times faster. The video output is much easier to understand compared to an animated model. The speed and ease of use allow difficult or time-consuming assets to be analyzed in a reasonable amount of time.

Motion Amplification complements traditional vibration analysis and other predictive-maintenance technologies. Accelerometers are ideally suited for finding problems at higher frequencies because there tends to be a lot of acceleration at higher frequencies and that is what they measure. On the other hand, there is almost no acceleration at very low frequencies but plenty of displacement, so the technology excels in low-frequency applications.

The Iris CM is the latest innovation in video-based asset condition monitoring. Using this system, Motion Amplification becomes a flexible and scalable solution that continuously monitors equipment. This tool connects traditional vibration inputs and RDI’s patented video-based vibration measurements to ensure nothing in a facility is ever missed. Video and data recordings can be triggered based on external inputs, virtual camera-based regions of interest, and thresholds for movement. The Iris CM features live Motion Amplification and the ability to quantify vibration, amplitude, phase, and frequency for anything visible in the recorded video. This product allows the user to troubleshoot transient events and visualize assets over longer periods of time.

Being able to easily visualize and quantify data has greatly enhanced the detection and early prevention of all matters of structural inefficiencies, imbalances, wear, and other faults that affect operational safety, efficiency, and output. More information is available at”

From watching our experiences in the RMC training factory and discussing it with company representatives during training classes/plant assessments, we have identified several applications for the technology. Some examples include rotating equipment imbalance, misalignment, soft foot/looseness, piping vibration, torsional resonance, mechanical seals, structural cracks, insufficient stiffness in the motor-pump frame, fan speed that was too great for the application causing back pressure, mechanical looseness in mixers causing bearing brinelling, rotor-blade testing, and robot mounting checks. Also, because the analysis is very quick there is less chance of procrastinating on the fix. Findings are quickly turned into actionable tasks.

Motion Amplification is a key tool for troubleshooting complex structures. Additionally, it works well in low-frequency applications (wind turbines). Beyond traditional vibration-analysis spectrum and waveform graphs and motion vectors, motion maps can be produced. 

When I see people using the technology and watch their reaction to finding issues or potential issues, seeing is truly believing. Being able to display an issue visually makes it easy to share and explain why action is required.

Acquiring good baseline data for assets (before start of production) is always difficult and time consuming in new factory projects. This technology is ideal for quickly compiling data before the assets are commissioned. The baseline data has ongoing value once production has commenced. The technology is in use by more than 38 industries (aerospace, automotive, defense, manufacturing, mining, power generation, pulp & paper, and wastewater utilities) in more than 58 countries. Although Motion Amplification is already well-established/proven, it’s still a relatively young technology. Many applications are waiting to be found to further improve reliability. EP


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