In the same way an experienced mechanic can identify car troubles by listening to it when it’s running, a plant maintenance professional often listens to rotating equipment to identify problems.
I caught up with Emerson’s Drew Mackley, a member of the Machinery Health Management team, about using wireless headphones to listen to rotating machinery outfitted with vibration sensors (accelerometers). Because wired headphones can be cumbersome and can pose a safety risk, technicians often ignore this audio analysis opportunity. Drew and the team have a new whitepaper, Using Wireless Headphones with Bluetooth for the CSI 2140, that describes how to incorporate Bluetooth wireless headphones in your maintenance efforts.
Listening to sound waves collected by portable vibration analyzers such as the CSI 2140 Machinery Health Analyzer, can provide confirmation of problems spotted in the data collection. For example, if a maintenance technician sees a vibration in low amplitude, but hears nothing when they listen to the waveform through his headphones, they might lower the priority of their concern. If the tech hears the vibration, this may prompt further investigation or more frequent monitoring.
Drew notes that with AMS Machinery Manager software, these collected waveforms can be listened to after the fact. Listening can be part of the diagnosis when viewing the collected vibration data. Audio analysis can also help uncover bad accelerometer connections, improving measurement locations, comparing between existing machinery operation and ideal operation, and helping to catch intermittent issues.
Bluetooth technology has proven to be a great medium to communicate sound information wirelessly and is now available in headphones to connect with the CSI 2140. Industrial environments have special requirements because hearing protection is often required around rotating machinery and these headphones must be able to be worn with a hard hat.
To be able to get the complete audio range, up through 20 kHz, the wireless headphones use the A2DP Bluetooth profile. The wireless headphones provided as an optional accessory with the CSI 2140 can be worn with a hard hat and have a 23dB noise reduction rating, accepted by industrial plants for hearing protection.
Like the seasoned automobile mechanic who listens to a running engine for mechanical problems, once maintenance technicians add headphones to their maintenance routes, they find them indispensible to their problem-spotting and diagnostic efforts.