Applications of Vibration Analysis and Machine Health Monitoring to Chain Motor Maintenance

Open Access
Arney, Christopher Robert
Area of Honors:
Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Issam Abu-Mahfouz, Thesis Supervisor
  • David Scott Witwer, Honors Advisor
  • Vibration Analysis
No matter the type of machine, be it a car, part of a production line, wind turbine, or a chain motor, in order for safe and productive operation, it must be properly inspected and maintained. Chain motors are most commonly used in theaters, arenas, and stadiums to hoist and position sound, lighting, and video equipment over the stage and audience. Chain motors are to be regularly inspected, but the inspection requires nearly complete disassembly of the body of the motor in order to visually inspect the gears, bearings, and lift train, which is a time and labor intensive process. Applying vibration analysis could allow for the inspection process to take place on the outside of the motor, while still providing the same results. Vibration analysis is the most common form of machine health monitoring, which uses the characteristics and performance of a machine to indicate its condition. In order for vibration analysis to be implemented successfully and accurately, faults and component failures are first introduced experimentally. Vibration signals are recorded with an accelerometer, which are then analyzed for any outstanding features or characteristics in comparison to a signal with no faults. If any of these signals or characteristics are detected during normal operating conditions, targeted maintenance can be performed to correct the problem because its nature and location are known from the vibration signal. Vibration signals for faults in one bearing were collected, analyzed, and identified in this research. Further testing of the rest of the components and compilation into an algorithm could allow for the mechanical portion of the inspection to be performed from the outside of the motor, and healthy units could be put back in to service without the time and cost involved in the visual inspection. However, this will not completely replace inspections, as there are still components like the chain, chain guides, suspension hook, and brake that cannot be inspected and analyzed with vibration analysis.