Impact of Misalignment in Rotating Machines

For any rotating equipment, alignment is a harmonious relation between any two mechanical components. Misalignment is a condition when the center lines of two co-axial coupled shafts don’t form a straight line. In other words, misalignment is the deviation of the shaft from its axis of rotation.

Misalignment – the most frequent yet unwanted phenomenon in rotating machines
According to a recent study, 50% of the misalignment issues are detected by vibration monitoring, and 36% of these result in severe equipment failures. Thus, predicting misalignment before it affects the machinery is the most prioritized task for the Maintenance team. Forecasting the mismatch of mechanical rotating components promotes disciplinary action to prevent unforeseen accidents. Moreover, misalignment reduces bearing and coupling life, increases vibration levels, and adversely impacts collaterals (seals, couplings, rotors, gear teeth, etc.)

Though the market for alignment service providers was negligible in industry 3.0, the growth is noticeable with the emergence of Industry 4.0, where 80% of the manufacturing industries prefer equipment with higher speed and power to achieve their production targets. The higher the rate of the equipment, the higher is the strain, and the higher is the possibility of misalignment. Though misalignment is a consequence of either or all of these equipment parameters, namely thermal growth, manufacturing defect, poor workmanship, soft foot, bearing failure, improper installation, etc., equipment strain is the most significant factor in misalignment.

A misalignment of a motor may retain the motor’s efficiency, but it lowers its operating life span and results in excessive vibrations. A Pump shaft misalignment can lead to misalignment in the entirety or partial sections of a pumping system. Such a system experiences an increase in resultant forces implying higher power consumption. Improper alignment of the fan blades and bearings causes a rise in temperature, abnormal noise, and overloading of the prime movers. Incorrect alignment in a gearbox produces meshing or overhanging gears, deflection of the gear shaft, and damages the shafts, the couplings, and the gearbox itself.

A misalignment of a shaping machine in the automotive industry can cause a threatening hourly production loss of USD 1000. A misalignment of a gearbox connected to an extruder in a tyre industry can produce a manufacturing setback of 10 hours of downtime. Fan stoppage due to misalignment risks the safety of the workforce in a chemical or glass plant but, if not corrected, leads to a catastrophic disaster. An improper correlation between the motor and the shaft facilitates the leakage of lubrication and the entry of the contaminants fostering wear and tear. A driver to pump misalignment affects the quality of the product as well as costs high repair charges.

It is very well known that Machine Reliability enhances with correct alignment. A maintenance alignment with Infinite Uptime’s Digital Reliability Services embedded with Diagnostics confirms the equipment monitored does not fail abruptly. The services include deploying an edge computing vibration monitoring sensor aptly named Industrial Data Enabler (IDE vEdge). The device collects real-time data, detects the abnormal rise in vibrations, diagnoses the root cause of the abnormality, recommends corrective action, and further ensures the corrective steps reach the plant within the next 24 hours.

This initiative eliminates the wrench time and enhances the availability and reliability of the equipment. The Plug-and-Play system detects the symptoms, predicts typical issues like misalignment, soft foot, unbalance, looseness, etc., and deals with the pre-alignment requirements. Empowered with this expertise, it assures the plant has no sudden and unwanted downtime of the equipment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *