Automation Reliability & Maintenance Center Sensors

Acquire Vibration Data Wirelessly

EP Editorial Staff | November 30, 2022

Plants not designed with wireless machine monitoring in mind may require repeaters, gateways, or mesh networks to extend signal transmission.

In industrial environments, where the Internet of Things is commonly referred to as the “industrial internet of things” (IIoT), the interconnectivity of machines, devices, and sensors using cloud computing allows collection and analysis of tremendous volumes of data, outputting simplified results to user interfaces to assist with human decision-making processes.

When it comes to predictive maintenance, it’s easy to see the benefits of such technology: worker safety and productivity is increased, travel costs are decreased, with wireless technologies long cable runs are eliminated and, above all, assets are consistently protected. Here are some key considerations when choosing accelerometers for wireless vibration monitoring. 

Establish goals.

Digital-monitoring solutions for asset management and predictive maintenance can take many forms. Instead of hiring analysts to travel to factories for troubleshooting, USB accelerometers that connect to cell phones and tablets make it easy for any onsite maintenance professional to share results quickly using email or the cloud. Wireless sensor systems eliminate the need to take measurements in hard-to-reach or dangerous places, as information can be sent at regular intervals and provide immediate notification when warning or critical levels are reached. 

Consider physical limitations.

The broadcast range of wireless vibration sensors is one of the most important considerations in assessing your sensor needs, as transmissions can range from hundreds to more than a thousand feet. Unfortunately, many plants were not designed with wireless machine monitoring in mind, and factory layouts can limit signal ranges. Many manufacturers require repeaters, gateways, or mesh networks to extend signals, which can add to the cost and overall efficiency of the system. When exploring options, consider a consultation to determine the requirements of your facility and set realistic expectations.

Protect your data.

Going wireless with data collection can expose your systems to security breaches if security protocols aren’t in place. Secure systems involve one-way communication from the sensor to the receiver, with initial setup requiring hardwire connection to the product software. Sensor output should always be encrypted.   

Avoid data overload.

Because of their ability to collect large amounts of data with little human effort, wireless systems are the best way to monitor trends and prevent irregular operations. The amount of information provided by wireless accelerometers can vary, however, from a few relevant vibration parameters to a complete array of waveform data. While waveform data collection can be useful in issue diagnosis, it requires a large storage capability and can limit sensor bandwidth. You may find it more useful to program sensors to alert when specific conditions are met, signifying a need for further analysis. 

Manage costs.

To cut costs when switching to wireless systems, additional solutions can be found in technologies designed to convert the wired sensors you already use to wireless capability. Consider “starting small”—focusing resources on critical machinery with more frequent monitoring needs or machinery in difficult-to-access locations. As you familiarize yourself with the new system, more assets can gradually be brought into the fold, ensuring long-term, cost-saving protection against catastrophic failure. EP

Information for this article was provided by IMI Sensors, a division of PCB Piezotronics, Depew, NY. For additional insight, visit


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