Home » Industry » Low-Frequency Vibration Sensors Prove More Efficient and Cheaper

Whether monitoring for earthquake activity or infrastructure condition, Symroc’s low-frequency vibration sensing systems offer quick, accurate, and cost-effective data.

Traditionally vibration sensing technology has focussed on high-frequency seismic activity. But data on low-frequency vibrations are no less important to protecting public safety and critical infrastructure.

Low frequency vibrations occur with earthquakes or movement on large infrastructure like pipelines, buildings, and bridges. Up to now, two main challenges have hindered the deployment of low frequency vibration monitoring technology – limited bandwidth performance and the ability to get quality data quickly and cost-effectively.

Challenges of bandwidth performance, lack of digitization, and high costs

“With bandwidth performance, it’s very difficult to capture the slower, more subtle movement from a vibration sensing design perspective,” says Wilson Howe, CEO, Symroc, an Alberta based technology company specializing in real-time, IoT ultrawide broadband vibration sensors and data analysis systems.

The lower frequency instrumentation and hardware systems have typically been the domain of the geoscience field, and not readily accessible to engineers. Even there, individual sensors tend to be capable of performing only within one specific range, as opposed to a wide range of vibrational frequency. On top of that, traditional sensors are analogue rather than digital, with separate sensors, separate digitization processes, and separate data processing techniques all residing with different specialty groups. “This piecemeal approach makes it very costly to get the end result,” says Howe.

Ultrawide broadband vibration sensors more efficient and cheaper

Symroc’s ultrawide broadband vibration sensors cover from the lowest frequency seismometer range to the highest frequency machine and mechanical vibration range – at about 20 percent of the cost. The sensors can be set up for remote, wireless monitoring and data transmission and provide high-quality data in real time that’s suitable for AI analysis.

“We designed the whole system with the goal of providing high efficiency, high performance systems with more cost savings that are also digital-ready for future potential machine learning capabilities,” says Howe.

Symroc initially focussed its vibration technology within the oil and gas industry, monitoring for earthquake activity caused by fracking. Since then, the company has expanded to facilities and infrastructure monitoring. For example, Symroc’s sensors can be positioned along large pipelines to detect ground motion, calculate stress, and perform quantification estimates to measure abnormal flows – so that the pipeline owners or managers can take preventive actions to avoid damage or shutdown.

Installing the solar panel of Symroc’s sensing system on an oil and gas facility
Installing the solar panel of Symroc’s sensing system on an oil and gas facility. Photo courtesy of Symroc.

Similarly in the above-ground world of buildings and bridges (both rail and vehicle), Symroc’s sensors can accurately view, monitor, and assess the stress levels so infrastructure owners can identify which areas need priority attention and then repair as necessary. “This is a much more cost-effective solution to Canada’s aging infrastructure problem than replacing the entire structure,” says Howe.

Environmental and safety issues have brought infrastructure monitoring issues to the fore over the past decade. “Whether you run a natural resource company, pipeline company, or manage government-owned infrastructure, the monitoring requirements are increasing,” says Torr Haglund, VP, Business Development at Symroc.

In the past, it was too expensive and difficult to do. “We’ve been able to lower the cost and improve the data quality and accessibility,” says Haglund. “I think it’s really going help out in terms of the safe operation of a lot of the infrastructure in our country,” he says.

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