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Shipbuilders from Noise and Vibration Test Engineering (NVTE) at Newport News Shipbuilding recently paid a visit to Coastal Fermentory in downtown Newport News. But they weren’t there for drinks, they were there to test a newly acquired video vibration analysis tool – the IRIS-MTM system from RDI Technologies.

“NVTE is a small group, but we’re in a key role to commission and keep critical machinery running – systems on Navy ships and in NNS facilities. We also deliver important noise and acoustic design data from test support for labs to special carrier and submarine tests that enable the Engineering and Design division to make good design decisions,” said NVTE Manager Matt Clark. “It is more important than ever to get our NNS and Navy customers more technically accurate and thorough answers as soon as possible. This new capability will help us deliver our service faster and more effectively.”          

The NVTE team uses noise and vibration measurements to look for pending trouble – and to tell shipbuilders and the Navy how to fix it. They use data analyzers and accelerometers to help understand machinery problems and are always looking for ways to work faster and more accurately. That’s what led them to search for a video vibration analysis tool to help solve some of the common problems experienced both shipboard and in shipyard facilities.

With the RDI system, NVTE can make much faster judgments about how to fix problems like foundation weakness, which causes machines to vibrate and distort in geometric patterns. 

“The IRIS-MTM system software detects subtle displacements from the pixels in a video and blows those displacements up so you can actually see the machine moving. This gives us an instant visual read on how the machine is vibrating as a whole and lets us quickly identify the right fix,” said Richard Neville. “It also converts the displacements to velocities and acceleration data so we can validate our accelerometer measurements, and it can do that on a static machine or a slow moving target, like a crane. This technology is very compelling – imagery that speaks for itself in a way that data graphs and analyst interpretations cannot.”

Coastal Fermentory provided an unclassified testing venue for the new system. The team was able to learn the RDI equipment by taking data on brew pumps and piping systems, and the RDI trainer could be there to watch and help guide them through any technical issues.

Trevor Johnson and Timothy Mills were among the shipbuilders who participated in the testing at Coastal Fermentory. “I was very impressed by how easy the software was to use and how useful it is. This can be used for a wide range of applications,” Johnson said. “We’ve already tested it out in the shipyard on a couple of pumps, and we’re already seeing places where we could use it in the future.”

Mills said the imagery provided by the new tool will help improve communication with fellow shipbuilders and the Navy about specific issues. “A lot of times, we get data that’s just graphs. We interpret that, write it down and tell them what it means, but it’s so much easier if they can see it.” 


Danny Hernandez

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