August 2, 2022

Thoughts on a New Machine Setup

By Jeff Hall


There are numerous items to be considered when performing an initial inspection for a vibration analysis route setup. All things from safety considerations to machine information, smells, and sounds need to be observed and documented.

First and foremost is SAFETY!! Are there exposed shafts, sheaves, belts, or nip points? Does an oily or slippery floor condition exist? Leaking lubricants or products can be commonplace around rotating equipment. Steam can hide other safety hazards.  Bottom line is to be aware of your surroundings on the way to, from and while at your equipment.

Next is the actual machine data needed for a complete and accurate analysis. Depending on the machine there are many items to document when possible. This can be extensive sometimes nonetheless they are necessary when gathering data for an accurate analysis.

This can include but not limited to the following:

  1. Machine configuration. Is it a simple machine direct couple to a pump or fan? A motor belt drive to pump or fan?  Is there a gearbox? How many reductions does the gearbox have? Ratios? Is the machine vertical or horizontal? Is the pump/fan center hung or overhung? Flexible or rigid base, etc.
  2. What is the horsepower of the motor?  Are the bearing numbers available? (Take a picture of the motor tag) Is the RPM fixed or variable speed?
  3. When possible, research the past history of the machine.  Is this a “problem child” machine? If so, what are the failure modes? Any information on MTBF? (Mean Time Between Failures)
  4. The overall machine condition.  Does the machine appear to be previously maintained? (This can be hard to determine in various environments) Any smells or sounds? Are belts squealing or burning? Does the machine “sound” good?
  5. Environment. Is it mounted on an elevated floor or mezzanine where vibration can be amplified or induced from nearby equipment?
  6. Other observations from visual inspections including using strobe light. Belt condition? Base condition? Any excessive movement in the shaft?

Always use common sense and collect as much information as possible. It is not always possible to get everything needed the first time through a machine setup but being aware of the endless possibilities is a great start.