One of the hallmarks of a good maintenance technician is the ability to troubleshoot – not just using vibration tools, or volt meters, or laptops with Ethernet plug-ins, but the ability to troubleshoot machinery in their minds. In other words, the ability to visualize what the problem might be.
“Fix the easy things first” is an old adage, and a familiar term to some maintenance technicians. In many cases, the “easy to fix” things are where the problems are.
I recently fielded a call from a client of ours who is using one of our OneProd Hawk machinery checkers-an easy to use vibration analyzer. He was asked by his customer to check this machine (a high-pressure blower) even though it is not one of the machines they typically monitor.
Another company had measured the vibration level on this machine three different times, and had reported a high vibration on the blower at 3 times running speed, just in the horizontal direction. This other company had recommended an oil change, and to monitor the machine.
Our client asked me for a second opinion, which I was happy to give. I asked my colleague, “What kind of coupling is on the machine”, to which he replied, “A 3 jaw coupling”. I then asked, “Can you think of anything else in this machine that could do something 3 times in one revolution?” “No”, he replied.
He shared this information with his customer. They told him they wanted to determine the cause of the vibration before they did anything with the alignment.
Seriously? Checking the alignment IS determining the cause of the vibration! Even if it isn’t misalignment, a quick check with a laser alignment tool could at least confirm or deny if alignment is a problem. And checking alignment is an “easy” thing. It would also allow you to inspect the coupling, check for anything that might be loose, and perform a quick PM.
It could be resonance, or pipe strain, but my money is on misalignment – an easy thing to determine, and an easy thing to fix.