An obstacle in diagnosis of multicomponent machinery using multiple sensors to acquire vibration data is firstly found in the data acquisition itself. This is due to the fact that vibration signals collected by each sensor are a mixture of vibration produced by different components and noise; it is not evident what signals are produced by each component. A number of research studies have been carried out in which this problem was considered a blind source separation (BSS) problem and different mathematical methods were used to separate the signals. One complexity with applying such mathematical methods to separate vibration sources is that no metric or standard measure exists to evaluate the quality of the separation. In this study, a method based on statistical energy analysis (SEA) is proposed using Fourier transforms and the spatial distance between sensors and components. The principle of this method is based on the fact that each sensor, with respect to its location in the system, collects a different version of the vibration produced in the system. By applying a short time Fourier transform to the signals collected by multiple sensors and making use of a priori knowledge of the spatial distribution of sensor locations with respect to the components, the source of the peaks on the frequency spectra of the signals can be identified and attributed to the components. The performance of the method was verified using a series of experimental tests on synthetic signals and real laboratory signals collected from different bearings and the results confirmed the efficacy of the method.

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