What’s Shaking?

March 12, 2012

What’s shaking was a commonly used question many years ago to ask someone how things were going. It was very generic and could cover a vast range of things. It is still used today but the frequency in use has declined.

When that question is asked of a person, they usually reply with “not much” or “everything is good.” But beware if you ask this question of a vibration person. Their reply would be “everything”; everything is shaking, but it’s the amplitude and frequency of the shaking that is the deciding factor. The first thing you notice after answering the question is the blank stare in the eyes of the person that asked the question. If you are at a party or gathering with non-vibration people you will also notice that the person will try to excuse themselves away after hearing your reply.

Of course, as a vibration person you notice the blank stare and proceed to explain frequency and amplitude to the questioner to better help them understand what is really happening when things shake, or more precisely, when they shake too much. The thinking is that maybe with an explanation the blank stare will vanish, leaving a glint of understanding in the person’s eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the party has no white board or things to draw on except cocktail napkins, you try to use hand gestures to explain frequency over amplitude and how side banding can tell you a lot about which component is failing on a machine.

After an hour of educating this person, my wife usually walks up to me to save the unfortunate victim. She whispers in my ear that we had an agreement. If anyone were to ask what I do for a living I would say I work with computers and not mention vibration. Of course I did find a loophole as he asked me “what’s shaking” not what I did for a living, but that is another story.

The moral of this story is that there are a lot of people that do not know or care about vibration. Our job is really two-fold in that we have to make certain the machines we monitor run as long as they can, and that we can explain the condition of the machine to a “non-vibration lay person” in a very short summary.

I find that showing a picture of a machine spectra containing high amplitude vs. the same machine many months ago when the vibration levels were low will allow the viewer to be able to see the differences without too much vibration explanation needed. A picture is really worth a thousand words, and if you add alarms and color to the report it helps push across your point.

Remember to keep your reports simple for others to see and have a detailed report for yourself that explains everything that you would like to remember.

One Response to “What’s Shaking?”

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