top of page

MEMS vs. Geophones: The Evolution of Construction Vibration Monitoring

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

MEMS accelerometers are revolutionizing construction vibration monitoring.

 

Highlights:

  • Traditional vibration monitoring has largely relied on geophone-based technology, but MEMS technology has emerged as a potent, game-changing alternative.

  • The full functionality, cost-effectiveness, and miniaturized size of MEMS sensors make them appealing in diverse applications, from smartphones to construction vibration monitoring.

  • Despite the lack of a national standard in the US for monitoring vibrations during construction, MEMS-based accelerometers are proving their capabilities by meeting or exceeding ISEE and many international standards.

  • Debunking common outdated misconceptions, recent research shows that modern MEMS accelerometer performance is comparable to traditional geophones, making them a viable and cost-efficient alternative for vibration monitoring.

  • Study authors predict that "MEMS sensors will displace geophones."

 

Traditional Vibration Monitoring Becoming Outdated

Historically, geophone-based solutions have been the standard technology deployed for construction vibration monitoring. However, these traditional systems are typically heavy and cumbersome to install, requiring the addition of disparate components to fully configure and activate. Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)-based alternatives are proving to be a game-changing evolution due to the devices’ smaller size, affordability, capacity to measure static accelerations, broad frequency response, and internet connectivity.



Learn how MEMS technology is improving DRW Associates' bottom line.


 

What is MEMS technology, and how is it revolutionizing construction vibration monitoring?


MEMS and dime

MEMS technology, which integrates electronic circuits and mechanical devices onto a single silicon chip, is similar to the process used to create integrated circuits. This technology, first unveiled in 1965, is now used in a wide range of applications such as video game controllers, smartphones, and automobiles.


A MEMS sensor consists of a suspended mass sandwiched between a pair of capacitive plates. This setup offers features synonymous with traditional sensors like analog voltage, current, and digital output options.


MEMS technology has revolutionized the world of sensors by introducing highly responsive, reliable, and compact devices without compromising data acquisition or accuracy.



 

Demystifying the Debate: MEMS Accelerometers vs. Geophones for Construction Vibration Monitoring

Despite the technological, logistical, and financial merits of MEMS-based solutions, some practitioners still favor geophones for vibration monitoring during construction, rooted in the "common wisdom" that MEMS sensors record extremely high vibration levels at high frequencies and lack accuracy at lower levels.

Quote from construction vibration monitoring researchers, 2018

While these concerns might have had some credence when MEMS technology was in its infancy, this is not the case with today’s MEMS-based devices. In fact, according to a 2018 Dutch study comparing geophone- and MEMS-based sensor performance by Van Delft and Ostendorf, both geophones and MEMS accelerometers displayed negligible differences in the vibration levels and dominant frequencies measured, dispelling this "common wisdom." Their assessment concluded that, given the advantages of the smaller and lighter MEMS accelerometers, "MEMS sensors will displace geophones."


Today, MEMS accelerometers can match the performance of geophones in the majority of construction vibration monitoring situations, making them a viable alternative to geophone vibration monitoring equipment.


 

Conclusion: MEMS is the Future of Construction Vibration Monitoring

MEMS technology is proving to be a powerful, reliable, and cost-efficient alternative to geophones for construction vibration monitoring. MEMS sensors are starting to revolutionize the vibration monitoring landscape. Incorporating this breakthrough technology into your construction vibration monitoring practice can provide efficiencies in installation and implementation, as well as significant increases in your projects’ ROI, without compromising data acquisition or accuracy.


MEMS Technology: The use of MEMS Accelerometers in construction vibration monitoring

To download the white paper,

“MEMS Technology: The Use of MEMS Accelerometers in Vibration Monitoring” by Gerald Verbeek, MsC., please click the link below.






For more information or to discuss our VEVA III sensors for your next construction vibration monitoring project, please contact us below.


bottom of page