Machine thermal growthWhen a machine heats up and starts expanding in all directions is simply called thermal growth. When it actually comes to understanding it, it means that you are dealing with machinery movement and that can cause misalignment in the machine. Also, your alignment is only as good as your target. If your machine starts moving and you have a bearable misalignment in the off-set condition, you will allow that bear minimum of misalignment in your machine deliberately in that condition. So, before you detect thermal growth, you need to have a correct target in place to measure it against.

In this episode, we focus on the following points:

  • What is thermal growth?
  • What are the standards of thermal growth measurement?
  • What packages are available that come with laser alignment tools?
    And much more!

When two machines are running in parallel with each other and one machine starts moving in the operating condition, it will cause misalignment between them. In those conditions, you might have shaft misalignment—machines are not aligned at the coupling point—in those operating conditions. Operating conditions are very important and you need to know what’s happing with your machines. Only then, you will be able to measure your targets, set them right, and make templates out of those. Once you have the correct targets in place, you can measure thermal growth against them and always document your findings for future reference.

When you start with thermal growth measurement, there are different standards out there. You can always check vendors’ operating manuals or bring in consultants for their expert opinion to get going but you need to have a proper understanding of what is going on with your machines to incorporate them correctly into your business processes. There are many different aspects that you need to look at when you are measuring thermal growth but common causes include piping, off-set gearboxes, and shaft misalignment. There’s technology out there that helps you calculate things while live machine operations and allows you to predict things well ahead of time.

There are different packages out there that come with laser alignment tools. You can benefit greatly from them and if you can properly calculate the thermal growth right, you can easily eliminate it. The operating context of the machine matters the most to successfully eliminate issues with your machines. So, it is always better to train your machine operators about the operating conditions and operations manuals for running the machines. They also need to have the right sense of misalignment and its direction before you deploy any procedures or make use of your valuable resources.

The best practice would be to be aware of the machine’s movement at all times and record those movements to have data to work with. There are advanced tools out there that can help you get rid of issues with your machines but you need to acknowledge the issue first, use the resources you got to deal with it, and enlist the expertise of consultants if needed. Over a period of time, you can make it part of your reliability programs and incorporate these practices in your business procedures to avoid any problems in the first place.

Hear more from Daus Studenberg in this podcast by James Kovacevic and better understand Thermal Growth.

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by Daus Studenberg CRL