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, the normal reply is “Not much.” or “Everything is good.” But beware if asking this question to a vibration person. The 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 that will be noticed after answering the question is the blank stare in the eyes of the person that asked the question. If at a party or gathering with non-vibration people that person will try to excuse themselves away after hearing the reply.

Of course, as a vibration person, the blank stare means that further explanation is needed to assist with the understanding of frequency and amplitude to the questioner. This should 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 whiteboard to draw on except cocktail napkins, using hand gestures to explain frequency over amplitude and how side banding can tell a lot about which component is failing on a machine, only changes the blank stare to a trapped animal expression.

After an hour of educating this person, my wife usually walks up 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 layperson” 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.

Sample of Machine Vibration Spectra and High Amplitude

Remember to keep the reports simple for others to see and have a detailed report for yourself that explains everything.

The example below is from a Component Report which displays when the data was collected and what alarms were seen during the collection dates.

Vibworks Vibration Analysis Component Sample Report


If you are interested in seeing all the reports that are offered in the VibWorks software please contact us to schedule an online presentation.

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by Mickey Harp CRL