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Monitoring Shock and Vibration During Equipment Transit

Unacceptable shock and vibration levels experienced by equipment during transit can result in equipment damage and failure. Shock and vibration are normal but can get beyond the acceptable levels due to speed, manoeuvres, air turbulence and sea conditions. Whether it’s transit through the aircraft, ship, railroad or truck, high levels of shock and vibration should be dealt with immediately.

The transportation shock and vibration environment should be accurately determined and described so we know if conditions are severe enough to cause damage. Information could then be used for more appropriate design of packaging. For instance, high-value paintings that are being sent to museums or galleries need to be packed in rigid and sealed cases. Aside from protecting the paintings from the constant shock and vibration during transit, the packaging should also be designed for collisions, dropping and other physical accidents. Engineers and designers can come up with appropriate and fail-proof packaging design if there’s available data about the transportation shock and vibration environment.

Monitoring shock and vibration during transit

Transporting high-value paintings and other pieces of artwork is an extreme and special case. What about the transport of industrial equipment? Should we still accurately monitor the transportation shock and vibration environment?

The short answer is yes. Industrial equipment (including forklifts and other material-handling equipment) are still vulnerable against vibration and shock. High levels can be compared to the impact during collisions. Damage and equipment failure might result if some parts become loose or displaced. Also, unacceptable vibration and shock levels are just some of the signs of serious mishandling. If shock and vibration levels are too high, expect further problems to be revealed during inspection of the equipment received.

High shock levels (e.g. sudden impact due to a collision) are serious problems since they can immediately cause damages to parts and entire equipment. It’s a similar case with high vibration levels because movement and displacement might still result. After all, vibration is still a form of movement. The worst thing about it is it’s constant and can be quite fluctuating. In addition, we can easily watch out and prevent shocks and impacts, but when it comes to vibration, it’s a natural occurrence in transit because of how the transportation vehicles operate (plus air turbulence and rough terrains). Terrain variability and transport environment can also cause huge fluctuations in vibration levels. For instance, road irregularities can cause ‘excitation’, or even the vehicle engine’s vibration can be transmitted to the cargo. Ocean waves can also cause excitation and thereby increase vibration levels during transit.

The factors causing vibration will always be there; it’s the nature of transport. A smooth ride is never guaranteed because of both vehicular and environmental conditions. When motion is present (e.g. while cargo is in transit), vibrations have a way of making it into the goods. In the case of industrial devices and equipment, vibration can travel through any point of contact. Then, consistent high levels of vibration may cause imbalance, wear and tear, looseness and misalignment. Notice that the effects of vibration are the same, regardless of whether the vibrations are coming from the inside of equipment or from the outside through points of contact. Moreover, unusual vibration is always a sign of a serious problem because after all most equipment and machinery are designed to minimise or avoid vibration. Whether it’s during equipment operation or the transport of such equipment, vibration levels should always be monitored so that we can design the required countermeasures.

Shock & vibration monitoring and recording

Whether it’s a material handling equipment, a rocket engine or a nuclear power component, shock and vibration levels should be accurately monitored for appropriate design of packaging and modification of the modes of transportation. Unusual excitations and the high levels of dominant frequencies can easily damage high-value equipment. In addition, the damages may not be apparent at first because the damage is happening gradually and internally. With proper monitoring and recording of shock and vibration levels, the received shipment can be rejected on-the-spot which is a more proactive approach than waiting for the problems to arise during the actual equipment usage.

During transport there might be values that fall outside the acceptable shock and vibration profile. This could be grounds for the rejection of the shipment or further inspection. Real-time monitoring can help in making real-time or prompt adjustments so that the package will be taken care of.

Aside from real-time monitoring, data from the records could be valuable for later analysis. We can correlate the outliers with certain events during transport (e.g. perhaps during aircraft takeoff, or when transferring the equipment from one vehicle to another is when the highest levels of vibration). We could then design preventive measures so that in the entire supply chain the equipment will be transported within the desirable shock and vibration profile.

With a reliable way to monitor and record shock and vibration data, we can then alert recipients and operators to inspect the equipment for potential damage. This also helps in determining baseline damage boundaries, detecting mishandling during shipping (which leads to assigning accountability and taking corrective actions), making adjustments to product packaging and loading process, and identifying opportunities for improvement by analysing the shock and vibration profile.

Here at ShockWatch we have modern solutions for accurately monitoring shock and vibration of equipment during transit. Our solutions have already been used in a wide variety of applications including automotive (motors, pumps, engines), transportation (barges, cranes, trucking fleets), energy (oil and gas drilling tools, solar panels, wind turbines, power transformers), defence and aviation (rocket boosters, missiles, satellites, aircraft engines) and medical and research (laboratory equipment and even particle accelerator systems). Aside from monitoring and recording shock and vibration data, our solutions are also capable of monitoring humidity, pressure and temperature levels.

Contact us today and we can recommend you the most cost-effective solution for your application. With our technical expertise and long experience (40+ years history), damage prevention is certain in your supply chain.