October 6, 2020

What Is the Importance of a Good Base?

Cory Burns, Southeast Regional Sales Manager

How important is a good base or foundation in terms of alignment?

How important is a good base or foundation in terms of alignment?

Most would say that identifying looseness in minutes is impossible. This type of study would take hours if not days to properly diagnose. When I began vibration in 1994, one of the leading causes of machinery health issues was misalignment. Laser alignment systems had been in the market for over 10 years; however, they were still lacking in accuracy. This contributed to a misunderstanding regarding the negative effect misalignment could have on rotating equipment.

I have spent 30 years in various industrial markets; the first 10 years focused on repairing and installation of industrial equipment. One thing that stays constant is time disruption taking place using new technology for identifying the root cause of base and mounting issues. This time span continues to decrease as new technology advances arise.

Industry Example

How often, as vibration analysts, have we taken data on pieces of equipment that we can feel or see the base moving and have no quick way to show or relay the effects that it is having on the individual components anchored to it?

Here’s a common situation: the maintenance personnel or mechanical contractor just installed a new motor and conducted a precision alignment. Now that the equipment is put back into service, the vibration analyst is deployed to get a baseline on the equipment, and the data shows misalignment. The analyst writes a work order that the unit has an alignment issue, but maintenance personnel and the mechanical contractor know they conducted a precision alignment the first time. 

Sometimes this type of situation can cause divides between the condition monitoring department, maintenance department, and contractor support. Believe it or not, everyone is correct in their own regard, but this vicious cycle can promote a bad culture between groups that are supposed to be working together and communicating to keep the plant running smoothly. 

The analyst takes it a step further and starts investigating by taking phase data on the structure, the bolted connections, and the foundation. He observes a 180-degree phase shift between the foundation and the concrete pad poured to accept the equipment. The analyst is excited to share this data with everyone affected by the issue, explaining that the data numbers say that there is looseness between the two concrete connections, and the equipment must be rocking, causing the misalignment. It can be difficult for someone that doesn’t understand the analyst’s process to fully grasp the magnitude of the call, causing the team to change the motor more often because the root cause has not been corrected. 

Often an issue of this type goes unresolved, and they live with the misalignment.

In this day and age, the advancement of technology is able to better explain the negative effects of misalignment on rotating equipment. Tools are more accurate and user-friendly, meaning it’s easier to bring a level of awareness to a diverse group of stakeholders including maintenance staff, outside contractors, and management on the process of obtaining and sustaining a precision alignment.

Fixing the Root Cause

So now we have a proper way to correct for misalignment, but how do we identify the root cause?

RDI Technologies Motion Amplification® can assist in this all too common situation. The technology creates a video representation of the vibration data. It does not take any training to watch a video that shows the concrete moving in opposite directions and understand that it needs to be secured. This advancement can bridge the gap between the departments by allowing everyone to watch the videos and collectively come up with a solution. With everyone in one room, working from the same data, a culture change will develop between departments, something I have witnessed firsthand.

Motion Amplification® technology has the potential to shift the needle when it comes to overall machinery health. In the past year, I have taken data at many different industrial sites and found loose bases, cracked concrete mounting platforms, and loose foundation mounts at the majority of these facilities. These facilities were properly performing alignments and had robust reliability programs but were still missing the ability to easily diagnose for the root cause.

If the industry integrates the technology and starts correcting things from the base level, machinery will have a longer MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure); equipment rebuild costs will decrease because maintenance is not changing machinery as often; and personnel time spent changing the equipment will go down, allowing them to focus on other projects and saving time and money. 

A change in culture with more synergy between management, maintenance, condition monitoring departments, and contractor support is what Motion Amplification® offers users, all leading up to increased uptime for the facility.


Cory is the Southeast Regional Sales Manager. He is always excited to introduce customers to the ground-breaking technology of Motion Amplification® and knows this will change the way his customers are currently doing business. Helping his customers work smarter and enhancing the way his customers do business is what drives him. You can contact Cory at cory.burns@rditechnologies.com

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