First one must know what the definition of phase is in the reliability world.  Phase is simply the relationship between two events.  There is absolute phase that is usually measured as either “phase-led”, which is from the peak in a filtered time waveform to the tachometer, or once per revolution indicator, or “phase-lag” which is from the tachometer or once per revolution indicator to the peak in a filtered time waveform. Of the two, phase-lag is probably the most common.

Phase Measurement Examples

There is also relative phase which takes two filtered time waveforms and compares the phase between the two. Generally your Channel One or A (as the case may be) is stationary and you can move Channel Two or B from position to position and get the indicated phase.  Relative phase can be a time saver as the user can get an indicated phase without shutting down the machine to put reflective tape on the shaft for a laser or optical pick-up.  This can be used to verify or diagnose unbalance, misalignment, and looseness, etc., but it cannot be used for dynamic balancing which requires absolute phase for repeatable calculations.  Whichever type of phase is used, you can use it to identify and/or confirm unbalance; check the phase on each side of the coupling as well as across the coupling to determine misalignment and what type of misalignment. Note: Always remember the orientation of the sensor as motion towards an accelerometer is positive energy in the time waveform and motion away from the accelerometer is negative energy in the time waveform.

The user can place the sensor on each side of a junction where two surfaces come together and look for a phase shift which indicates the two surfaces are not tight to each other.  This could be looseness between a motor foot to the base, or from the base to the sole plate, or from the sole plate to the foundation, or even from the foundation to the slab.  If everything is tight then the machine will move as one.

Phase can also be used to look for cocked bearings, bent or bowed shafts and other things as well.

Our advanced vibration analyzers, along with phase analysis, can help you better diagnose fault conditions.

Featured Graphics taken from Vibration Diagnostics report by Alena Bilosova and Jan Bilos – Ostrava 2012

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, by Gary James CRL