Machine Vibration Causes and Fixes
What Is Machine Vibration?
Most machinery experiences a level of vibration, and will have an expected ‘normal’ range of machine vibration while functioning. However, over time, or if something breaks or goes wrong, this level of vibration may be elevated beyond what is expected, and this can easily become dangerous to operators and the machine itself.
Machine vibration can be analysed by amplitude (the magnitude of the vibration), frequency (the number of oscillations, typically denoted in Cycles Per Minute [CPM] or Hertz) and direction (e.g. radial or axial).
Risks of Vibrations
Excessive vibrations can lead to:
- Unsafe working conditions – workers may be more prone to health issues like Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome or tinnitus if they are working with excessive machine vibration.
- Increased noise – the worse the vibration, the more likely it is to create excessive noise.
- Component destruction – the components within a machine may be affected by the increased vibration, meaning they will either need to be replaced or realigned.
- Reduced machine lifespan – although the machine may appear to continue functioning with increased levels of vibration, if it is left unchecked, it can drastically decrease its lifespan.
- More frequent maintenance – if machine vibration is not identified as the root of the problem quickly, you may find that your machinery requires much more frequent maintenance.
Causes of Machine Vibration
Wear and Tear
One of the most common causes of machine vibration is simple wear and tear – over time, components within machinery can become pitted, chipped or otherwise affected, and this can lead to increased vibrations. Components such as rubber bearings, spherical bearings and gears are examples of components that may be affected.
Where there is an uneven distribution of mass around a particular axis of rotation, ‘heavy spots’ can be created, and these can lead to increased machine vibration. Rotating unbalance can be caused by a number of factors, including manufacturing issues, distortion from stress or high temperatures, the impact of oil or other chemicals, or even simple build-up.
This common cause of machine vibration can occur as either angular misalignment, offset misalignment or, often, a combination of the two. Offset misalignment is when the centrelines of two shafts have been misaligned, while angular misalignment occurs between two shafts in the affected plane.
Shaft misalignment can be caused by human error, issues during startup or thermal expansion.
There are two key types of mechanical looseness. Rotating element looseness refers to excessive gaps between rotating and stationary components such as bearings, gears and couplings, while structural looseness refers to foundational looseness, including bolts that are not sufficiently tightened, or distorted or flexible machine mountings.
Prevent Machine Vibration
One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of machine vibration is to use rubber anti-vibration mounts. With everything from rubber bobbins to machine feet and buffer rails available, almost any machine’s lifespan can be improved with the use of anti-vibration mounts, and rubber is an excellent material for reducing vibrations (and therefore noise).
Read our guide to choosing the correct anti-vibration mounts for your requirements for more information.
Monitoring vibration levels
As we mentioned earlier, most machines have a standard, ‘normal’ rate of vibration – monitoring this frequently can ensure that you can keep an eye on any variations in the level of vibrations and provide maintenance where it’s needed. This can be as simple as listening out for any audible changes in the machine as it runs.
Proper maintenance and upkeep
Aside from monitoring for any changes, it’s vital that your machines are properly maintained at regular intervals and the condition of any parts that are beginning to degrade noted, even if they do not yet need to be replaced.
Replace, realign, relubricate
If you notice any components in your machinery have degraded or are no longer in their best condition, take action – whether you need to disassemble your machine and reassemble it, fix the components’ alignment or simply provide lubrication for smoother functioning, these small fixes can make a big difference to your machine.
At GMT, we are experts in using rubber to reduce machine vibration by absorbing noise and vibrations to minimise wear and damage. What’s more, anti-vibration mounts are a simple and cost-effective way to optimise machines of varying sizes and load capacities.
For more information or to discuss bespoke machine vibration solutions for your business, please get in touch with our team today.