The one software that I had the pleasure of learning while in the field and never even heard of in college was ME’Scope by Vibrant Technology. Quite honestly, I am still a novice with the software and still need to hone my skills with it. That being said, the capabilities of ME’Scope are rather incredible and if you are interested in dynamic systems, this is the premier software for it in the engineering community.
First off, what I am defining as ME’Scope is actually a series of software packages that allow the engineer to post-process experimental noise and vibrational data. During the post-processing, the user can then analyze and display the data in 3D animations. This 3D animation is actually extremely useful as it helps the engineer to diagnose the problem associated with a dynamic system.
For the purposes of this post, I will focus specifically on vibration data and how ME’Scope can help an engineer solve vibration issues. To understand the software, we first must look at how we acquire the data…
Say you work for a company that makes LARGE industrial fans like the one below:
These centrifugal fans can operate at 3600 rotations per minute for months or even years without stopping. As a result of this consistent and fast rotation, the machinery is likely to experience vibration. It is the goal of any machinery design to keep the vibration at a minimum but it is unrealistic to have zero vibration.
When the vibration becomes to intense, the machinery has the potential to self-destruct. This can end up costing a manufacturing company money for new equipment and lost revenue due to downtime. Luckily, vibration issues worsen steadily over time and do not come about suddenly. In fact, the problem can usually be fixed before the equipment breaks whether it be imbalance in the impeller or structural resonance.
In factories, an employee will report increased vibration on the piece of machinery to their supervisor. An engineer or consultant must then be called forth to determine the cause of the vibration. This investigation is often done through what is called “Impact Resonance Testing” or “Bump Testing”.
Essentially, whom ever carries out the Bump Test places an accelerometer on the equipment and proceeds to hit the equipment with a large hammer. The process of hitting the equipment is repeated dozens of times. However, after each hit the accelerometer is moved to a new location on the equipment. See below for an image of an impact test:
After hitting the equipment, an impulse is created and the accelerometer sends a signal to a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analyzer. The analyzer then exports the vibration data from each impact to a computer in a usable form. This usable data is then imported into ME’Scope and applied to a 3D CAD model.
With proper knowledge about vibration and how the impact test was preformed, the engineer doing the post processing can generate a 3D animation of the equipment by taking the data from an accelerometer’s location during the test and apply it to its corresponding location on the CAD model. Therefore, ME’Scope acts as an interface in which you can take real world data and pair it to a CAD model to generate animations.
Below is GIF I made of an ME’Scope animation demonstrating vibration issues in a simple rotating piece of equipment.
As one can see, the software exaggerates the effects of the vibration but that is by design. This exaggerated movement allows the engineer to obtain a visual of how the system is operating. Furthermore, how the system moves offers clues as to what might be causing the vibration issues.
It should be stated that ME’Scope does not fix the problem, but it allows the user to effectively identify what the problem is. Once the problem has been recognized, it is up to the user’s experience to fix the vibration issue.
If you are interested in this area of engineering, there is a great deal of research that can be done in vibrations and it is an area that is hard to understand for most. However, if you are good at it and understand vibration and how to use ME’Scope, you can be indispensable to a firm or company.