To answer that, we should first understand exactly what causes rotating equipment to fail. The majority of failures come down to unbalance and misalignment.
If equipment is unbalanced or misaligned, you get structural fatigue, wear on bearings and couplings, busted seals, and higher power usage. The equipment is less efficient over all, and it’s wearing itself out much faster than it should.
As such, the way to help this equipment work better is to make sure everything is aligned and balanced the way it needs to be. Now how do you do that?
It starts at the very beginning when you first install the equipment. You need to make sure everything is in place right from the start since most rotating equipment failures result from startup issues.
If you’ve already gotten everything installed, then you’ll need to make corrections. Odds are, your equipment has already experienced some wear, but you can slow down the process.
Either way, the items on your checklist are:
- Align shafts and couplings
- Balance fan blades, rotors, impellers, and other rotating parts
- Make sure all parts are fully tightened
After that, it’s a matter of effective maintenance, including lubrication, consistent inspections, corrosion treatments, and—where possible—condition monitoring.
Preventive maintenance tasks such as lubrication and regular checkups make sure all elements in your equipment remain properly aligned and balanced. Routine maintenance can take care of this reasonably well, but take care with lubrication—too much or too little can also reduce the life of the asset.
If you’re able, implementing a PdM program for your rotating equipment will allow you to monitor its health through vibration or ultrasound analysis. When vibration and ultrasound data start rising a bit too high, it’s time to schedule an inspection.
If predictive maintenance is a bit outside your league at this time, regular preventive maintenance checkups are still in order. You need to know your equipment, though. Using information such as...
- Failure frequency
- Parts replaced
- Costs of repairs
- Types of recurring issues
- User manual data on lubrication, corrosion resistance, etc.
...you can make plans to perform needed checks at specific intervals. While not as efficient as predictive maintenance, these routine checks can help you detect when the equipment is starting to get a little off and make changes to extend the asset’s life.