Overcoming Lack of Space with the Right Brackets for Shaft Alignment

May 26, 2015

Surprisingly, often on larger machines like gas turbines and diesel engines coupled to generators or compressors there is less space to mount your brackets than on small machines. The large size of couplings and shafts frequently means that there is very radial clearance the OD of the coupling hub to provide line of sight, or piping or other structures interferes with rotation, limiting your axial clearances on the shafts as well.

Also, shrouds or other obstacles limiting access to the shafts can cause difficulties in turning them. Yet, there is almost always a way to do an alignment with Pruftechnik tools. Our brackets do not need to be mounted on the shaft, provided the coupling hub is solid to the shaft (ie. rigidly mounted to the shaft.) A variety of magnetic brackets and offset adapter lets you overcome almost any obstacle to rotation or to line of sight. In fact, anywhere that you can devise a way to mount a dial indicator, you can also mount a bracket to hold a laser component. Here are a few examples:

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Here we see the ROTALIGN SMART EX laser component and Bluetooth module mounted on solid hub, shooting the beam through the coupling bolt hole. The laser emitter is mounted on the magnetic coupling bolt hole bracket designed for applications like this, and the Bluetooth module is mounted on a compact magnetic bracket, illustrating that the two components need not always necessarily be mounted on the same bracket. This setup allows the laser beam to be shot through an unoccupied bolt hole of the coupling without any hardware protrusion beyond the OD of the coupling.

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Here we see the ROTALIGN ULTRA IS sensALIGN laser (on the right) mounted with a compact magnetic bracket to the axially protruding face of the solid hub of the double-engagement gear coupling, in a a very limited axial space that would not permit a standard chain bracket to be mounted on the shaft. An offset adapter moves the laser unit forward axially, permitting the setup to overcome the axial obstruction of the machine housing at 3 o’clock.

image3Here we see the ROTALIGN ULTRA laser (on the right) mounted on magnetic bolt hole bracket to the flywheel of a methane gas engine, overcoming the axial space limitations posed by the shim disk-pack type coupling.

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Here we see the ROTALIGN ULTRA receiver mounted on offset support posts on a compact magnetic bracket, overcoming both an axial space limitation preventing use of the chain brackets and a radial obstruction posed by the pipe seen in the foreground on the left.

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Here we see the ROTALIGN SMART EX receiver mounted on a compact magnetic sliding bracket, overcoming both an axial space limitation and a situation in which the shaft cannot be turned by hand. Instead, the magnetic sliding bracket is slid around the solid coupling hub to each measurement position while the laser is rotated past the receiver as the other shaft is rotated using the Pass Mode measurement mode for uncoupled shafts.

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Successful Project with WEARSCANNER particle counter at Pumping Station

May 19, 2015

A facility just replaced several 1,000 HP slurry pumps with a massive 4,000 HP slurry pump at a pumping station. As part of this project, Ludeca supplied a WEARSCANNER particle counter that is installed on the oil return line just before the filter. This system reports partials per minute for different particle ranges and relays this data via Modbus to the process control computer. During the initial start-up the particle counter showed particles passing through the counter with the worst range reporting 6 parts per minute in the 100 to 125 micron range. The startup oil was changed and the filter replaced.  As a result, the particle count has now dropped to zero in all of the ranges.

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3 Simple Suggestions to Prevent Machinery Component Wear and Corrosion

May 12, 2015

Machine components are susceptible to premature wear and corrosion due in part to the harsh environments they are placed in. To combat this, here are a few suggestions to keep your machines running:

  1. Proper lubrication
    Always make sure the movable components in the machine are getting the lubrication they need. Lubrication not only keeps parts cooler and moving freely, but also prevents corrosion.
  2. Cleanliness
    Keep the machine components as well as their environments as clean as practical. This can aid in preventing wear stemming from particle ingression and friction.
  3. Keep logs
    Keep a log of all the PM (preventative maintenance) done on your machines so as to avoid duplication and prolong the life of its components.

If you follow these simple guidelines, it will help prevent breakdowns in your plant and save money.

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How can you Benefit from a Wireless Solution for an Online Condition Monitoring System

May 5, 2015

Today’s world class maintenance departments require data collection on a consistent and periodic basis to guarantee that the assets in a plant operate efficiently and reliably.

Online vibration monitoring actively monitors the health of critical assets for potential failure conditions. This will yield great results by identifying potential failure conditions for repair before unwanted downtime and other costly consequences are experienced.

Typical online condition monitoring can be expensive due to the installation cost for cables, labor, safeguards, etc., and might even be impossible in certain situations due to accessibility issues. Online vibration monitoring systems such as VIBNODE and VIBCONNECT RF were specifically designed to minimize installation costs and provide high measurement quality. These systems offer wireless operation, greatly reducing installation costs and making installation very easy in remote locations, on difficult to reach equipment, etc. GPRS (cellular modems) and other options can be utilized to make online monitoring fully remote and provide accurate health condition updates on monitored equipment.

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Condition monitoring data is acquired and wirelessly transferred back to a central location for analysis.

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Condition monitoring data is acquired and wirelessly transferred back to a central location anywhere in the world for analysis.

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Where Have All the Bearing Scrapers Gone? Finding Skilled Craftspeople in the Post Baby Boomer World

May 5, 2015

A paper titled The Surprisingly Swift Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment by Justin Pierce suggests that the sharp decline in US manufacturing jobs is a result of imports from China. Regardless of the cause, it is a fact that US manufacturing has declined over the past several years. Along with the decline in jobs, there has been a decline in the technical skills needed for performing manufacturing jobs. The loss of technical skills is largely due to the fact that as manufacturing jobs declined, job training refocused to other areas such as service sector jobs. This all happened at a time when the baby boomers who were the backbone of American manufacturing began leaving the workplace in droves due to retirement. The age of the baby boomers is rapidly coming to an end; and due to the decline in manufacturing, there’s been no concerted effort to replace them.

Download my entire UPTIME MAGAZINE article: Where Have All the Bearing Scrapers Gone? 

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ROTALIGN ULTRA Slashes Time from Days to Hours on 5-Machine Train Alignment

April 28, 2015

We recently visited a water treatment plant in Boca Raton, FL and needed to align an interesting five-machine train. The train consisted of a 1000 HP motor short-coupled  to a clutch, water pump, another clutch and diesel engine (see Figure 1):

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Fig. 1: 5-Machine Train

The main drive unit is the dark gray motor on the right, which spins clockwise and drives the blue pump in the middle through a clutch (the light gray machine.) The second clutch in the train is to the left of the pump (hidden in the picture above) and is oriented backwards from the first one so as to disengage the yellow diesel engine at the far left from the train when the motor is running. When electric power fails and the motor cannot be used (such as during hurricanes or when an accident disables the electrical grid), the engine is automatically started and spins counterclockwise, driving the pump in the same direction as before through the left hand clutch, whereas the right hand clutch now disengages the motor from the train. It is an ingenious arrangement, designed to keep this critical machine train operational even if one of the drivers were to fail. Some vibration trouble was being experienced and misalignment was suspected.

We brought a ROTALIGN ULTRA IS to the site with four sets of sensALIGN heads. Using the multi-coupling measurement feature in the ROTALIGN (available with the Expert level of the firmware), we were able to take a set of readings across three of the four couplings simultaneously using the Continuous Sweep mode in just minutes. However, since the diesel engine is disengaged from the rest of the train while rotating clockwise from the motor, its shaft does not turn with the rest of the train. This problem was overcome by uncoupling it from its clutch and using a turning gear to rotate the engine shaft separately while utilizing the Pass Mode measurement mode for uncoupled shafts across this coupling.

Although short-coupled with double engagement gear couplings, the fairly large size of each of these couplings meant we could treat them as spacer couplings since the 8-inch span between the ring gears is greater than the minimum 4″ distance between flex planes recommended to consider the coupling as a short coupling.

Fig. 2: Overview of all five machines with sensALIGN components installed

Fig. 2: Overview of all five machines with sensALIGN components installed

As the diesel engine was manually turned with a turning gear to various positions, the sensALIGN laser on the clutch shaft passed the sensALIGN receiver on the engine shaft several times during the rotation of the train. This way, the entire train alignment could be captured with just one rotation of the shafts:

Engine to Clutch, uncoupled, using Pass Mode Measurement Mode

Engine to Clutch, uncoupled, using Pass Mode Measurement Mode

After the readings were completed, it was time to look at the results. We zoomed the view out to look at the overall alignment of the entire machine train and found this situation in the vertical plane, with the diesel engine on the left set as the reference machine:

As Found Results, Vertical

The results showed that the pump would have be dropped by nearly 20 thousandths at the left pair of feet and nearly 30 thousandths at the right pair of feet. Since it would be very difficult and inconvenient to move this heavily piped pump, we decided to explore alternatives by using the Static Foot function to set the Pump stationary as well. This meant that ROTALIGN would now draw a new optimized centerline through the two stationary machines (the engine and pump) and show us the relative positions of the remaining three machines with respect to this optimized centerline, as shown below:

As Found Results, Optimized through Engine and Pump, Vertical

As Found Results, Optimized through Engine and Pump, Vertical

Since the motor too was large and inconvenient to move, with heavy, inflexible conduit connections, we decided to explore whether alternative shimming solutions existed to achieve a satisfactory alignment by moving only the two clutches in the train. To this end, we now opened the shimming and move simulator in the Rotalign Ultra and discovered that we could in fact achieve an excellent alignment throughout the entire train by moving just the two clutches to get into spec. The left hand clutch (coupled to the engine) could be shimmed up by 10 thousandths at the left pair of feet (closest to the engine) and shimmed up 13 thousandths at the right pair of feet (nearest the pump.) This would achieve an excellent alignment between the clutch and the pump on the right side without compromising the already good alignment between the clutch and the engine on the left side, as illustrated below. Next, we would pivot the right hand clutch (nearest the motor) by raising its left pair of feet (nearest the pump) by 9 thousandths while at the same time lowering its right pair of feet (nearest the motor) by 9 thousandths as well. This would simultaneously achieve an excellent alignment of this clutch to both motor and pump. See below:

Move Simulator, Showing Proposed Shimming Corrections at both Clutches

Move Simulator, Showing Proposed Shimming Corrections at both Clutches

Leaving the sensALIGN components installed, we were able to monitor the alignment throughout the entire train live as the corrections were made at the two clutches. After the shimming corrections were completed the entire train was remeasured, and was found to be within tolerance, with no further shim changes or horizontal moves required.

The entire alignment of this five-machine train was accomplished in just 4 hours and 37 minutes using the Multicoupling feature for simultaneous measurement across all four couplings, the Continuous Sweep and Pass Measure Modes, the Shimming Simulator and Live Move feature of the ROTALIGN ULTRA IS. Only a tool like the ROTALIGN ULTRA IS could have allowed us to accomplish this complex task with such speed and ease.

The machine owner informed us afterwards that this alignment typically scheduled at least two man-days with traditional methods and was very pleased to get his critical machine train back on line so quickly, saving lots of money in the process.

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