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Vibration Monitoring for Turbochargers

Monitoring the vibration and temperature levels of your turbocharger can help ensure the safety of your rotating machinery and engines.

A turbocharger is a highly sensitive piece of machinery. Damage to a turbo is not only expensive in terms of repairs and lost production time; it is also extremely dangerous.

The turbine blades of a medium-sized turbocharger rotate at up to 40-60,000 rpm, and exhaust gas temperatures can reach up to 700° C. In the event of a turbocharger breakdown, this can cause severe damage to other equipment and injure personnel.

Protect Your Turbocharger with Vibration Monitoring

It is possible to check the technical condition of the turbocharger, its rotors and bearings without stopping the engine.

With vibration monitoring, you can monitor the condition of the bearings and rotating elements in your turbocharger and detect imbalances and wear before they cause breakdowns.

With the vibration monitors from PCH Engineering, you can set individual warning and trip alarms that alert your staff locally and adjust the vibration input channels to each turbocharger.

You can also collect and monitor data remotely and use trend data to predict and schedule maintenance of your turbochargers.

Contact us for a discussion of your vibration monitoring needs

Study: Online Vibration Monitoring Is The Most Effective Method

In his study "Marine Diesel Engines Turbochargers Diagnostic Methods", Tomasz Lus from the Polish Naval Academy compares acoustic signals and vibration signals processing methods:

"[... the] vibration method which using blades harmonic is not effective for technical condition assessment for malfunctions. For such malfunction the best tool for turbocharger test is the I-st harmonic of vibrations accelerations amplitude signal measurement in whole turbocharger speed range or at list in whole engine output range. [sic]"

Lus concludes that:

"In this respect vibration signals processing methods seems to be much more effective.

"[…] Presented vibration diagnostic methods gives opportunity to change the old engine maintenance philosophy connected with turbochargers maintenance process. It is possible using on-line vibration monitoring systems to go from scheduled to condition based turbochargers maintenance without fear about real operating engine conditions. [sic]"

Case study: Vibration monitoring of turbochargers for OEM customer in the maritime engineering industry



A client providing engineering services to the maritime industry wanted to help their customers obtain higher turbocharger safety.

Often, ship engine maintenance is postponed until the ship is in dock. However, late maintenance can result in severe damage to the engines’ turbochargers.

Therefore, our client requested a safety monitoring kit from PCH Engineering with vibration monitors to be mounted on turbochargers on their customers’ ship engines.

The personnel on board the ships needed immediate alerts in the event of increased vibrations being detected in the turbochargers.

Solution: Safety monitoring kit for turbos

We provided the client with a safety monitoring kit consisting of:
  • 1 metal casing with DIN rail
  • 1 PCH 1420 4-channel, real time vibration monitor (safety monitor)
  • 1 PCH input module
  • 1 PCH relay module
  • 1 PCH DataLogger/EtherBridge module
  • 1 VPN modem (providing secure remote access to the equipment)
  • 4 accelerometers, 50 mV/g sensitivity
  • 4 30 metre twisted and shielded accelerometer pair cables
  • 1 PCH Vibration Studio software
PCH Engineering’s vibration monitoring components are modular, enabling the client to purchase the exact number and style of monitors necessary. We delivered the kit pre-mounted in the metal casing with cable glands and a power supply for a plug and play solution.


The safety monitoring kit enabled the client to monitor the condition of turbocharger bearings and other turbo components in order to prevent damage to machinery and equipment breakdowns.

In the event of a vibration monitor detecting abnormal vibration amplitudes in a turbocharger, the system alerts the staff on site by setting off warning or trip alarms. The alarm limits can be adjusted by the end user to match their turbocharger.

With the EtherBridge, modem and PCH Vibration Studio software, the end user can access the vibration data, system status and alarms remotely, collect trend data and use it to schedule maintenance.


Did you know …

Why Turbochargers Break Down

Among the main factors in turbocharger breakdowns are:
  • Incorrect operation of the turbocharger, resulting in over-speed
    It takes only a few percent of continuous over-speeding to severely damage turbocharger components or reduce their life span. 30-40 percent overspeed or more will likely cause the turbocharger to break down completely.
  • Failure to maintain the turbocharger in time
    This may result in dangerous wear of the bearings, compressor wheels and turbine blades.
  • Disregard of obvious symptoms of turbocharger wear and damage
    Such symptoms may include increasing vibration frequencies, surging of the turbocharger or rising exhaust gas temperatures.
Source: Gard, international maritime insurance provider,
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