4 Components of Rotating Machinery Maintenance

A significant percentage of the equipment that contributes to manufacturing and production environments include rotating machinery. Fluid pumps and drive motors constitute much of the support framework of commerce. Humans have devised many clever ways to apply the wheel for its work saving advantages.

Reliance on rotating motorized devices requires maintenance. If not maintained properly, failures can halt production. Most routine scheduled maintenance strategies include a few simple components. Audible, visual and thermal operating parameters are examples. Vibrational analysis is another high-value quantity for good predictive maintenance. Obtaining the best vibration analysis possible will help avoid unscheduled outages.

Audible Observations

Listening to equipment is a sure way to know when something isn’t right. Rotary devices often experience failures due to excessive friction of some kind.  Whether bearings are failing or imbalances occur, one of the first signs will be changes in the sound of motors or fans. Regular walk-by inspections are an important element for the detection of audible cues.

Visual Observations

Inspection of rotary machinery can reveal much about its condition. Specifically, close viewing of bearing housings for lubrication leakages or off-center shafts are signs of problems. Mounting brackets with loose anchors or corrosion of any kind also may be observed. Seeing any obvious changes in the appearance of equipment can be a basis for further investigation.

Thermal Observations

Temperature probes and a log of operating conditions over time help identify trends that indicate a problem. Most bearings have specifications for operating temperatures.  Expansion and contraction of metals due to thermal cycling is a common culprit of mechanical failures.

Vibrational Observations

Advanced analysis instrumentation is capable of isolating malfunctions to very specific locations and causes. Out of balance motors and pumps produce vibration signatures that can guide maintenance procedures. Misalignment is another common issue identified with vibration analysis. Logging readings over time helps prevent unscheduled outages and direct planned replacements.

Rotating machinery is a fundamental part of operations for many industries. Proper maintenance will maximize serviceable life and help avoid catastrophic failures of large equipment. Regular observations, logging of pertinent data points and familiarity with operating specifications are fundamental elements of good operational maintenance.