Multi-point measure mode on large machines

November 18, 2014

At Enterprise Products an 8000 HP Siemens Electric Motor is short-coupled to an Ariel KBV six throw compressor. Unit was suffering from very large amounts of vibration causing excessive wear and tear on various components of the machine.

Motor to Ariel Compressor

This alignment is performed using the compact magnetic brackets attached to a huge Thomas shim disk-type coupling. The shafts are turned using their 15-ton overhead bridge crane with a suitable nylon strap. The alignment was performed using the OPTALIGN SMART alignment system and the Multi-point Measure Mode. To take readings, the unit must be turned with a 15-ton overhead crane. Since the rotation is not even and start stop positions cannot be exactly controlled, measurements are taken at various locations along the rotation. The Multi-point Mode is ideal for this situation.

I have been using OPTALIGN SMART Laser Equipment for years. The OPTALIGN SMART makes it simple and easy to align very small equipment as well as very large equipment. We use the OPTALIGN SMART to align all rotating equipment in our facilities. The two pieces of equipment grow together within .001” to .002”. This was confirmed when a hot alignment was performed. We check alignment both hot and cold every 4000 hours of run time. The OPTALIGN SMART takes the guess work out and definitely saves valuable time.” —D. Thomas, Enterprise Products


Can you answer a simple question: Is your equipment basically sound?

November 12, 2014

Can you answer a simple question? Is your equipment basically sound? It’s not a trick question. There are some things that the more studious maintenance practitioners among us have discovered through dedicated equipment failure data logging followed by mining that data. In his article “Examining the Processes of RCM and TPM” Ross Kennedy of the Center for TPM points out that studies have been undertaken to determine the main causes of premature equipment failure, as they relate to statistical lifetime rates. Mr. Kennedy states “Studies conducted by the Japanese Institute of Plant Maintenance and companies like DuPont and Tennessee Eastman Chemical Company have shown that three major physical conditions make up some 80% of the variation.”

In other words, 80% the equipment tracked in these studies that didn’t achieve its projected lifetime were all affected (or perhaps we should say “afflicted”) by one or more of three physical conditions causing the accelerated failure rate:

  1. Lubrication problems
  2. Looseness problems
  3. Contamination problems

Based on these findings, TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) strives to maintain equipment in what it has termed “Basic Equipment Condition”, or Clean, Tight, and Lubed. Many companies promote their activities as giving their equipment a little TLC (Tight, Lubed, and Cleaned). However you put it, if your equipment isn’t clean, tight, and lubed properly, expecting reliability is illogical because your equipment is not “basically sound”.

You’ll notice that the companies Mr. Kennedy cites as participants in such studies are well known for their reliability programs. Most would see them as well ahead of the pack so to speak, but they too found some low hanging fruit through this study. Now that the studies have been done, we can all benefit from them. It doesn’t take a lot of hi-tech equipment to work on these areas, but many still overlook them because they seem too simple. Don’t get caught in the trap of looking for exotic means of reliability improvement before you’ve gotten good at the basics.

As a part of a corporate reliability group for a Fortune 500 Company (in my distant past), we added a 4th element to what should constitute “Basic” equipment condition for assets, and that element was shaft alignment.

Only when your equipment is:

  1. Precision aligned
  2. Properly lubricated
  3. Properly fastened and mounted
  4. Free from excessive foreign material contamination

Should you feel comfortable in answering a “yes” to the simple question: “Is your equipment basically sound?”

It is important to always remember one additional best practice activity that is critical to equipment reliability.  Keep your equipment balanced where applicable as well.  Unbalance is another common problem resulting in costly reliability issues within a facility.


Selecting the correct coupling type for the alignment in your laser system

November 4, 2014

When performing shaft alignment, the most important goal is to align the machine to within proper tolerances. One criterion that has an impact on the tolerances that should be used is identifying and selecting the correct coupling type. In the setup shown below in Figure 1, spacer coupling tolerances were being used. However, in order to achieve a proper alignment, the alignment should have been performed using the short flex tolerances. Between the two shafts, a long coupling is used to connect them, however the connection between the motor shaft and the spacer (Left side in picture) is rigidly coupled and has no flexible element. Thus this setup should be treated as a continuous extension of the motor shaft. Therefore, the alignment should be performed using the short flex tolerances at the flexible coupling on the right side. Spacer tolerances should only be used when the distance between the two flex planes of a coupling is four inches or greater.

Rigid Coupling

For a more detailed explanation of using the spacer tolerances, watch our Spacer Shaft Alignment Crash Course Video.

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Let’s be S.M.A.R.T when establishing a Reliability Program

October 28, 2014

I have travelled to various industries throughout the United States and recently in Australia to educate reliability technicians, engineers and maintenance groups in the area of reliability. I have found that almost all are experiencing the same challenges with regards to sustaining programs. The only thing that’s different is the accent. Although I have encountered a variety of issues during my travels, a few always seem to be at the top of the list:

  • Communication
  • Not our “first go round”
  • Opportunity to implement some of the lessons learned
  • Not taking the “first step”

It is said that the majority of all programs fail. If this is true, then what is/are the reason(s)? What’s the common denominator? Many times it comes down to creating a shared goal and communicating effectively with our groups. As simple as this may sound, many among the group are driven in different directions and not working as a unit to reach the common goal.

Without a specific, clearly communicated goal we are destined to become another bad statistic. Without a goal there’s no passion and without passion no drive for success.

The following guideline may be helpful to creating a better effective goal.

Let’s be S.M.A.R.T when establishing a reliability Program.

  • S – Specific (be specific). If it’s a reliability program, what does it need to be successful? Correct parameters, alarms, reporting etc.
  • M – Measurable. You must be able to see if you’re making progress toward the goal.
  • A – Action Steps. What can you do (first step) to launch your program in the right direction?
  • R – Realistic. Stretch yourself, don’t let limiting beliefs prevent you from setting a goal. But don’t be unrealistic. You can always stretch out a little farther later.
  • T – Time period. Set a specific time period. Your expectations toward achieving your goals cannot be open-ended.
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Proper motor shaft alignment increases the operating life span of rotating machinery

October 21, 2014

Happy to share two great articles by MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY Magazine about The Importance of Shaft Alignment and Precision Shaft Alignment For Improved Uptime:

  1. The Importance of Motor Shaft Alignment
  2. Motor Shaft Alignment For Improved Uptime

Download featured Why Alignment


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The Basics of Spectral Resolution for Motor Vibration Analysis

October 14, 2014

PUMPS & SYSTEMS • September 2014

Revisiting the fundamentals of data examination, time and resolution can solve equipment issues before they happen.

Inexperienced vibration analysts encounter a common problem: They are often expected to learn too much, too fast. Instead of taking time to appropriately understand the basics, new analysts must often move directly to a busy schedule of collection and analysis without much apprenticeship. Training is almost always in a group setting, and instructors often move too quickly through the material. The facts are learned well enough for an analyst-level exam, but an in-depth understanding is often taken for granted.

Accurate vibration analysis requires complete clarity on foundational subjects. Real-world applications demand more of young analysts than what they can learn in group training. Facility operations depend on a whole picture of how their equipment moves and where energy is used—and lost.

Read my entire article The Basics of Spectral Resolution for Motor Vibration Analysis


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