Attachment Pads and Quality Data


This application note covers how to mount the SymphonyAI Industrial triaxial attachment pad and the basics for collecting quality vibration data.

Setup Machine Locations for Triaxial Vibration

Before you can collect data, you must make certain everything, including the machine and the data collector, is ready for the test. The following checklists will help:

Sensor Mounting Pads

If there are no attachment pads installed on the machine, you must refer to the VTAG or other documentation for the correct location and orientation before gluing on a new pad.

Prepare the pad location by using the flat file or grinder to remove all of the paint in the area under the new pad. The best vibration transmission for the machine to the data collector is a paint-free metal to metal contact between the sensor and the bearing housing. Layers of paint will dampen the vibration signal and hide small vibrations.

Use the wiping rag to remove any oils or residues on the mounting surface and on the back of the attachment pad.

Gluing the Attachment Pads

Use the two-part, Loctite adhesive to glue on the new pad.

  1. Using the activator, swab an even layer on the machine surface and the back of the attachment pad.
  2. Allow a minute for the adhesive to become a little tacky.
  3. Apply a pea-sized drop of the adhesive on the bottom of the attachment pad.
  4. Determine the required orientation for pad or sensor.
  5. Firmly hold pad onto the machine location for 60 seconds, keeping constant pressure.
  6. Depending on the temperature of the machine, the glue should be set in about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Allow 20 minutes before connecting a triaxial sensor.

If the two-part adhesive is not available, or you need to mount a pad in a very wet location, you could use an industrial super-glue such as the Speedbonder by Loctite. Keep in mind, however, unlike the two-part adhesive which will adhere the attachment block nearly permanently, super-glue will become brittle under normal operation of the machine and will likely fail within a year.

Maintaining the Glued-pad

There are two recommendations for maintaining the sensors.  This help with data quality, keeping the solid connection between asset and pad, and preventing pre-mature failure. 

  1. Cover the pad with a “red cap" plastic protective cover.  The cover will keep the attachment pad clean and ready for data collection.  The cover also demonstrates purpose, helping prevent inadvertent removal.
  2. Protect exposed metal around the pad.  After the pad is installed and the glue has cured, any exposed metal should be painted to prevent rust or corrosion from degrading the pad installation.

There are certain factors which could cause the attachment pad to come off.

As mentioned above, if installed properly, using the recommended Loctite 2-part adhesive, the attachment pad (or sensor) forms a near permanent bond, which requires strong mechanical force to remove.  In our experience, the pads will last decades if properly maintained.

These are factors that could cause pads to prematurely fail:

  1. Ensure adhesive is relatively fresh. The shelf life of the Loctite glue is about one year after it has been opened. It is recommended the user indicate the open date on the container and discard the glue after one year. It may continue to form a bond but may take significantly longer to cure and could fail prematurely. 
  2. The temperature or humidity in the space will affect the bonding time. Very hot or very cold machines will take longer.  Though once bonded, the pad should not prematurely fail, but the time it takes to bond is longer and more time is required before first use.
  3. Make sure to wipe off debris. It is important to wipe the location on the machine and the back of the attachment pad to prepare the surface for the glue.  Machine oils on the pads and grease or grime on machines will factor into the quality of the bond and factor into premature failure.
  4. Be aware of corrosion. If a machine is exposed to the elements, the exposed metal around the area which was filed for the pad should be re-painted to prevent rust and corrosion. After time, the pad may fatigue and fall off.  Ensure the condition of the pads is periodically inspected.
  5. The pad must have adequate surface area to bond and transmit data. If the curvature of the bearing housing allows less than half of the pad to make contact, the area should be ground down with a file or grinder to create a flatter surface or an adapter pad may need to be required.  Area not fully bonded is a point of failure.

Prepare the Machine for Collection

Prepare for Data Collection with TRIO - 'Tools' of the Trade

The SymphonyAI Industrial data collector is a sophisticated piece of equipment; however, the ability for the Expert Automated Diagnostic System to accurately analyze machine faults, or to progressively trend the development of faults, the person collecting data must understand some basic techniques to ensure repeatable data.

In order to use the data collector effectively and efficiently you must remember to bring along the less sophisticated 'tools' of the trade. These 'tools' all fit inside the data collector's carrying bag; they should include the following:

  • Flat File or machine grinder tool
  • Drill Bit
  • 5/32 Tap
  • Balldriver(s)
  • Small Wiping Rag
  • Sensor Attachment Pads (Spares)
  • Two-part Loctite Adhesive (As required)

Ensure Data Quality

There are few basic principles to follow when collecting vibration data to ensure quality data is collected and accurate analysis of the data can be conducted.

  • Verify the machine is correct per the VTAG. The VTAG must be used to compare the nameplate information on the machine to what is setup in the software. If there is a new machine installed and the information on the nameplate does not match what is in the VTAG, the collected data could incorrectly be diagnosed and false repair recommendations reported.
  • Variable-speed machines need to adjusted to set running speed. Turbine-driven
    and VFD machines have very specific test operating conditions stated
    in the VTAG. It is imperative that the speed is tested using a tachometer and
    either set into the collection or the machine adjusted before testing. The
    speed also needs to be at a steady speed and not fluctuating or „hunting‟. It is
    recommended to test machines with no greater than a ten percent variance
    from the established baseline speed as indicated in the VTAG. This will
    ensure comparable readings for accurate diagnostics.
  • Ensure the machine is warmed up. A cold running machine will inaccurately demonstrate machine faults do to thermal growth. While the machine warms up the various metals heat and expand at varying rates. Shafts will grow and come into alignment as the two shafts and the coupling heat.
  • Collect all pickup locations on the machine. The expert system will not automatically analyze spectra from only one component. If there are two pickup locations, both need to be tested. If you are troubleshooting a fault, for example, determining motor imbalance or pump imbalance, then collecting data on only the motor while the two components are uncoupled is expected. However, all analysis must be done manually.
  • Collect all pickup locations without delay. Not only does the expert system need all pickup locations to be collected to be processed, it also needs them to be collected in a set amount of time. If a long delay occurs between test locations, the entire machine will need to be retested. Too many variables can occur and the system dynamics can change if you wait between tests.
  • Keep the machine in a steady state during entire test. If system parameters change during data collection such as the machine trips offline, a companion pump starts or stops, valve lineup is manipulated, a governor automatically adjusts turbine speed, or flow or pressure is adjusted retest the entire machine. To accurately diagnose a machine you need like comparison
    of data. If the machine is changing during data collection, this change will affect the vibration spectrum and accurate analysis cannot be performed.
  • Re-attach blocks that are about to fall off. If the attachment pad appears to be loose or there is rust around the base of the pad, remove the old pad and attach a new one. If the connection is weakened, adequate vibration will not transmit through to provide adequate diagnostics.

Causes of Bad Data

Several things can occur that will give you “bad data”. The first line of defense for preventing inaccurate results is to ensure the data collection is performed correctly. Reviewing a machine‟s setup and test conditions prior to data collection is paramount. The following is a list of the most common causes of bad data.

  • Improper Test Conditions – This includes normal operating temperature, loading, specific discharge pressure, stroke/cycling, and stable speed. All test conditions that are required for data collection are specified in the VTAG. These test conditions are vitally important for the expert system to accurately diagnose machinery faults.
  • Wrong Test Speed – Variable speed machines rarely operates normally
    at the required test speed specified in the VTAG. To ensure the machine is at
    the correct speed, a tachometer (strobotach, optitach, digitach) is required
    prior to data collection. Electric motors with multiple speed controls and
    should be tested at high speed, as specified in the VTAG.
  • Wrong Location – It is easy to get confused as to which location is required for some machine tests. Care must be given when selecting the location from the tree in the data collector to make sure it matches the actual location the sensor is connected to on the machine.
  • Incorrect Sensor Orientation – The VTAG needs to be consulted prior to data collection to ensure the attachment pad is oriented correctly.
  • Loose Accelerometer – Each accelerometer needs to be firmly attached to the sensor and the sensor to the pad. The balldriver should be used to gently torque the sensor onto the attachment pad. After attaching the sensor, a quick check of tightness should be done by gently attempting to twist it.
  • Hot Accelerometer – The sensor can handle temperatures of about 300 degrees F. However, the amplifier and piezoelectric crystal that are contained inside each accelerometer need to equalize in temperature before collecting data. The accelerometer takes only a few minutes to equalize in temperature. Keep in mind that the sensor will be very hot to the touch when collection is completed.


To get the best vibration readings for the SymphonyAI Industrial trending vibration analysis program, attachment pads should be used. Once attachment pads are installed onto the machines, routine vibration data collection is quick and efficient and with some simple best practices, accurate diagnostics will be achieved.

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