Vibration Analysts Inc. | Challenges of In-House Programs

    If you’re reading this section, it’s probably for one or more very good reasons, such as employee turnovers, financial concerns and emergent machinery issues. All these and more will certainly challenge any vibration program. 


    Many companies realize if they send an employee to a technical training course and they get a Certification, chances are real that the employee may look for a better paying job.  It’s always been a concern … up to now.  

    VAI can provide complete vibration program support, and we’ve been providing our services since 2001 (we’re not going anywhere!).  Furthermore we are not affected by employee turnovers, sick leave, vacation, strikes or retirements.  That’s because we have multiple Analysts with certifications on every level.  If one of our Analyst gets sick, takes vacation or leaves, another Analyst with the same qualifications fills the position.  



    Let’s be honest … employees will leave for a variety of reasons and some may be due to a misunderstanding of what vibration programs can and cannot do.  These include:

    • Failure to understand what Vibration Programs CAN and CAN’T do. 
    • Prevent ALL machine failures: THEY CAN’T

    When properly used, vibration programs should prevent ~ 95%+ of all failures. For example, consider rolling element bearings (REBs):

    The four (4) types of REB defects that progress to failures are:

    • Inner race defects
      • Outer race defects
      • Rolling element (train) defects
      • Bearing cage defects

    The first three (3) can progress to failure in as little as 45 days, but may take as long as 1-2 years. Bearing life depends on operating speed, temperature, lubricant quality, and load which can vary greatly based on the amount of unbalance and misalignment. Since bearing faults can progress to failure in as little as ~ 45 days after detection, monthly trending is needed.

    Bearing cage failures however can occur in just 1-2 hours. Unless your Analyst is in the field collecting data when the bearing is actually failing (and can hear an abnormal noise coming from it), it’s unlikely the cage failure will be prevented.  Vibration programs can detect nearly all other mechanical failures.

    • Predict run-time to failure: THEY CAN’T

    Can you predict when your car tires will fail?  You know your tires the best, so why not? ANSWER: Because you replace them before they fail and for a number of good reasons:

    • You don’t want a sudden failure
    • You don’t want to increase the risk of collateral damage and repair cost
    • You don’t want the inconvenience of a failure during inclement weather
    • You DO want to replace them at a convenient time

    The same reasons apply to your critical plant machines.  The only way to predict run time to failure is to allow a machine to fail three (3) times under identical operating conditions of unbalance, misalignment, load, temperature and operating speed. Once you have that information (and no one does) you can predict the run time to failure. But one thing is certain: a machine will always fail at the worst possible time!   Always!

    What Analysts CAN DO is report the machine’s overall health.  New / rebuilt machines are typically GREEN. After a few years, they may develop a minor issue BLUE which minor maintenance may be able to correct.  At he end of their RELIABLE life they become YELLOW, and as they continue to degrade they become RED and have a high risk of failure. That’s it!  And just so you know, a 3600 rpm machine with a RED issue is getting 5.2 million cycles closer to failure every day.

    • Non-core duties

    This may be the leading reason why your Analyst will seek employment elsewhere. 

    Everything is running smoothly and there are no failures, so management assigns more work (non-core duties).  The reason everything is running smoothly is because your Analyst is out there keeping it that way.

    He / she is collecting and analyzing data, researching historical failures, performing advanced tests, maintaining and optimizing the database, inspecting machines that are undergoing maintenance, performing trim balancing moves, and so much more. 

    Overloading an Analyst with non-core duties invariably leads to frustration, degrading program performance, increases the likelihood of a machine failure, and employee turnovers.  

    Once upon a time … there was a large electric utility that had several power plants across the US. The plant that was the “BEST IN FLEET” (BIF) had a  dedicated ISO Cat. IV Analyst who worked diligently to keep it that way.  Then came the non-core duties including “Plant Housekeeping” and more.  Frustration set in and he left to start a very successful consulting business. And not long after, that plant lost its BIF status.

    • Trying  to save money

    Do you agree the paramount requirement of any vibration program is to maximize machinery health and reliability by implementing timely corrective actions?  If yes, then do you realize the following five (5) rules apply:

    1. Your machinery health will only be as good as the data analysis process.
    • The data analysis process will only be as good as the data that’s been collected.
    • The data will only be as good as the quality of the test equipment used to collect it.
    • The quality of the test equipment is limited by the software used to program it.
    • And the Analyst is the one who does the programming.

    To achieve world-class results, you need to provide your Analyst with the right tools for the job.

    VAI’s Analysts come from many different backgrounds and experience. That includes different software and test equipment, and for those who never used CSI’s products, it only took them a few days before they overwhelmingly preferred CSI’s products. We only use CSI’s products … and so does 70% of the industry. 

    Give your Analyst the right tools for the job! We can help guide you.

    • Technical Vibration Training

    To create and maintain a vibration program, an Analyst must collect, trend and analyze vibration data; detect issues and accurately report them, create, maintain and optimize the database and routes, witness maintenance inspections, support vendor qualification tests, support emergent call-outs and so much more.

    Anyone who thinks new Engineer out of college grad can do this without technical training is not being realistic. At an absolute minimum, the following training is needed:

    • Vibration Data Collection Training
    • ISO Category I and II Training
    • Vibration Database Software Training

    After attending this training and completing one (1) full year of vibration related experience, your Analyst will still only be able to accurately analyze 70% of all issues (be wrong 30% of the time).

    If Cat I and II Analysts were that great, VAI would save a LOT of money by only hiring them.  But we know Cat. III’s and IV’s are needed to maintain client vibration programs.

    Think of the following relationships between education levels and ISO Certifications and ask yourself what are your minimum expectations:

    Education level:     ISO Certification:

    Grade school     =    Category I (no prior experience)

    High school        =   Category II with one (1) year of experience

    College                =   Category III with five (5) years of experience

    Doctorate           =   Category IV with 10+ years of experience


    The following are real world expectations of what Analysts can do:

    • Category I

    A person with 6-months experience can attend a 3-4 day course and (if they pass the exam) become ISO Cat. I Certified.  But from the viewpoint of an ISO Cat. IV, they only know enough to ‘speak the language’ and be dangerous to themselves and plant equipment.

    • Category II

    Cat. II Analysts with a minimum of one (1) year of experience will be correct about 70% of the time. But that means they’ll be wrong ~ 1/3 the time, so expect some hard and expensive lessons learned.

    • Category III

    Cat. III Analysts with 5-years’ experience will be right about 80% of the time (20% errors).  Depending on job location and working conditions, starting salaries can be quite high.

    • Category IV

    There are about 100 Cat. IV Analysts worldwide. IF you can find a Cat. IV who is willing to relocate to your area, you can expect a very high salary requirement. Most prefer to startup their own vibration consulting business.  A Cat. IV Analyst with 10 years’ experience will generally be right about 90% of the time.

    • Consultants

    A consultant may sound knowledgeable, but how do you know they’re capable?  Just be aware, that if a Consultant claims they can accurately analyze all data, they’re either lying or you won’t be able to afford their salary.

    • Vibration analysts inc. 

    VAI’s process is unique in the industry.  Our process yields ~ 99% accuracy because we don’t assign just one (1) Analyst to analyze your data. We provide teams of five (5) Analysts on three (3) levels of increasing knowledge and experience – client references available.

    As a part of our service, we also provide the following FREE benefits to our clients … and all for about 1/3 of what it would cost you to run an in-house program:

    • FREE 24/7 Technical Support
    • FREE Database Creation, Maintenance and Optimization
    • FREE (Read Only) Access to the Vibration Database
    • FREE On-Site Data Collector Training