KCF Technologies Blog

Wireless Sensors Work

In the world of vibration monitoring, wireless sensors can provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional machine monitoring methods.


The following article, authored by KCF Technologies employees Christopher Shannon and Matt Cowen, was published in the June/July 2013 issue of Uptime Magazine.

SmartDiagnostics® sensor
on a compressor.
Traditionally, machine vibration monitoring is performed in two ways: machines can be periodically monitored by utilizing a temporarily mounted sensor and a portable analyzer machine, or machines can be continuously monitored by permanently mounting sensors and wiring them into a high end diagnostic system in the plant.

The advantage of a portable system is that it can cost less to procure and install since there is no permanent wiring required. However, if a facility decides to hire an outside firm, even this option can be costly, running between $600 and $1,200 per day while still providing some level of predictive monitoring. The disadvantage of a portable system is that machine problems do not follow a schedule and there is a very real possibility that a machine can develop problems or even fail between the periodic assessments.

Permanently mounted sensor systems attempt to address the issues presented by portable systems, but they do so at a very high cost.  Acquiring and installing a permanent system can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars when you factor in the costs of the sensors, diagnostic machine and software, and the installation and maintenance of long wire runs that are necessary to power the sensors and collect the vibration data. These costs can dramatically affect the return on investment (ROI) of continuous machine vibration monitoring for predictive maintenance and put such systems beyond the financial reach of most companies.

While permanent machine monitoring has traditionally been performed using wired sensors, costs for wiring vibration sensors are high, ranging from $50 to $100 per foot. Wire installation costs are a driving factor that limits the affordability of vibration monitoring. Wireless sensors address this cost issue.  Additionally, wireless sensors offer to simplify sensor installation, reduce maintenance associated with wiring faults, permit new sensor locations that would not have otherwise been accessible with wired sensors, and offer greater flexibility with easy installation or removal, as required.

In summary, wireless sensors have the promise to make vibration monitoring practical for most companies.  Read the rest of the article on the Uptime Magazine website.

Photo by Matt Cowen/KCF Technologies.  All rights reserved.

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