Why Balance? A Management Perspective

Consider … Imbalance and all the assembly errors constitute at least 30% of the early failures of machine systems. As we have previous reviewed within the mechanical failure pie, imbalance accounts for a major slice of your manufacturing cost. Could balancing and all that pertains to it have as much importance as we have given to the subject of misalignment? The straightforward answer is, a resounding YES!

Changing our Thinking … Just a short ten years ago, perhaps fifteen in every facility I visited, there were only two folks who were “smart” enough to run the laser alignment device. Does this mean that:

  • alignment is such a difficult subject that only the brilliant need apply?

  • there are only so few alignment jobs required that two trades people can handle it all?

Obviously, given where we are today and the discoveries we’ve made along the way, the questions seem silly. The truth of the matter is that not everyone realized the value return that precise and controlled alignment could have on production, cost, reliability and energy. The net result is that today it is expected that all craft/trades ranks know how to perform precise alignments. Now, there are certainly some important alignment situations that still call for the specialist, but in general, this is the case.

So why is it that still today I find that there are only two people who can perform balancing in the sites that I visit? Is balance actually such a difficult subject with devices and resultants that are so complicated that only two folks are … get the idea? The value of precise and trim balanced machinery is still for all intents and purposes not well understood. Look, if I stated that this could be worth millions of net return annually for you and your site, would that get your attention?

How is this so … Let’s use your automobile as an exercise. Manufacturers of tires and cars and components etc. have really improved from where they were ten years ago. We still have to put all of these parts together and we must remember how assemblies vectorially summate. In your vehicle today, do you rotate and balance your tires more than you perform front end alignments? Say, every ten thousand miles or so? The reason you perform this is that you are not willing to pay the price of the early failure of tires, bearings, front end components such as springs, mounts, shocks, steering gear etc. Perhaps the real reason you perform this, is that balanced and rotated tires provide for a safer ride than not doing it! Now if this is the case, is the wear and tear any different on your field machinery, especially as we place machines together in some sort of drive fashion? Do we rotate tires because the wear pattern if left in the same position would accelerate the tire failure? What makes you think that the wear, erosion, buildup, etc. in an operating machine is different? The fact is … no difference.

Moving Forward … The truth of the matter is that balancing is not terribly difficult for most of our machinery (although there can be some very complex balance solutions). Part of the issue is understanding how to perform field trim balance without opening up the machine(s). The answer is with just a little creative thinking, field trim balance can be relatively straightforward.

Once we understand the “architectural” nature of influence coefficients to amplitude response, while using good documentation methods, excellent balance results can be achieved without the proverbial startup, shut down, trim attachment routines. With the simplicity and low cost of today’s hand held computer instrumentation/devices, there’s little reason not to take full advantage of the value of this work. Although your machines may be running in very good state, almost all of those who have gone back and performed precise trim balancing find a further vibration amplitude reduction of between 30% to 60%.

Getting Started … The issue at hand is not the instrument or device. The real work is in the education of what value balancing can bring. Without hands on, hard skills training in a classroom, to determine and learn those important discovery moments, then balancing is an abstract subject with value for only the largest of machinery. This same training must then be field applied with management approval. This is when the real value becomes known and further opportunities are found. Think for a moment, do we realize that (for most facilities), 60% of your routine maintenance budget costs are spent on machines under 100 hp? We also need to state that balancing is only historically completed on the largest horsepower machines or approximately five percent of the assets in a facility. Whether your budget is rather modest due to your size or in the tens of millions, Precision Maintenance® balancing skills application, can provide a handsome, fast and continuous financial return. The question remains, how much margin do you wish to gain? When do we realize that field balancing education and application(like today’s precise alignments) are for all machines and all trades to apply! Partner with Reliability Solutions for a prescriptive approach in building your reliability roadmap. Precise balancing techniques and trades skill application are just another important element in moving forward with sustainable and profitable results that matter.

Contact us and let’s partner today to “Build the Workforce of the Future”!

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