Many facilities have placed overall vibration data collection devices in the hands of their operators. The goal is to give the operators and production a tool to help identify equipment problems and the severity of those problems.
The intent of this effort is very good. However, the true value of this effort is usually not understood.
First, generic overall vibration levels can be quite dangerous if not fully understood. Secondly, the actual value of having operators collect vibration data is not usually taken advantage of fully.
Overall vibration levels require the same amount of time for data collection as is required to collect very detailed vibration information on the equipment. Therefore, the operator should actually collect the overall vibration levels they need while simultaneously collecting detailed information for the vibration analyst to review. What happens if the operator collects an overall vibration level on a machine and some problem is suspected? The facility has to invest time and effort for an analyst to revisit the machine and collect enough vibration data to actually verify and analyze the problem. This means that additional labor is required or the results are diminished. With the correct vibration hardware, the operator can easily collect the overall vibration values they need as well as the detailed information the analyst needs. This saves time and money. What if the activity occurs after hours? The detailed data collected by the operator could be remotely passed on to the analyst for detailed evaluation. This saves time and greatly improves the response time from employees and the technologies. Operators could be used to easily and routinely collect vibration data on much of the equipment for analysis by the vibration group. This would allow greater equipment coverage by the vibration analysis program, allow the analyst to focus on analysis, and spend less time collecting data.
To summarize, having the operator collect vibration data can be of great value if done the correct way, otherwise, the process can provide inaccurate information and reduced benefits.