Condition Monitoring Expert Tip #6 by Mobius Institute
The vibration spectrum can provide a clear indication of certain fault conditions, but when you see a large peak at the running speed (1X) what will your diagnosis be? What if you also see peaks at 2X and 3X? Now, if you are monitoring a large fan with a history of building up on the fan blades, then you may reasonably conclude that the high 1X peak indicates unbalance. But in the more general case, how do you distinguish between unbalance, bent shaft, looseness, resonance, eccentricity, misalignment, cocked bearing, and other fault conditions? This is where phase analysis is your friend.
Once upon a time phase analysis was difficult to perform because most people owned single-channel vibration analyzers. But with a two-channel analyzer and two vibration sensors, it is very easy to perform phase analysis. By simply placing one sensor vertically on the bearing and one sensor horizontally you can determine if unbalance exists. By comparing the vibration from one end of the machine to the other (on the same axis) you can confirm the unbalance diagnosis and assess whether it requires single-plane balance or two-plane. Comparing phase axially across a coupling, and radially across the coupling can help you diagnose and confirm misalignment.
We could go on and on, but phase analysis is the best tool for distinguishing between all of the listed fault conditions and more.