Detect soft foot with vibration analysis


Irene Hamernick Tags: vibration analysis, condition monitoring, predictive maintenance

Soft foot poses a challenge for plant operations and maintenance personnel. The common term for machine frame distortion, soft foot is caused when one or more feet of a machine are shorter, longer or angled some way different than the rest of the feet. This non-uniformity causes stress on the machinery when the foot is forced into place by tightening the hold-down bolt. Missing shims under a foot, a bent foot, or a deteriorating base plate or foundation can cause this condition. In addition, pipe stress can cause machine frame distortion and, therefore, also is considered a soft foot condition. hen soft foot is present, the intended machine design and clearances are compromised. It can cause high vibration levels because the machinery is unduly e!posed to e!cessive wear with each shaft revolution. "eflection and "amage #ften, soft foot is not seen as a critical problem, but let$s investigate the damage it can cause. hen machine frame distortion e!ists, the bearing housings are misaligned with respect to one another. This offset, as well as angular misalignment, creates a load on the rotating shaft that results in shaft deflection. hen the shaft turns, this results in vibration since the shaft must deflect by double the amount of the deflection at rest, at twice the speed of rotation. %or e!ample, at &,'(( revolutions per minute )*+M, running speed, a soft foot distortion provokes -.&'. million deflection cycles every /. hours )%igure &,.

Figure 1. An example of preload on the bearings. At 1,800 RPM, which e uals !0 stress"re#ersal c$cles e#er$ second %re#erses twice in each full rotation&, this is nearl$ '.( million bac)"and"forth deflection c$cles e#er$ (* hours.

the ne!t step is to determine why.1(0 inches1second. take measurements while the machinery is operating. Radial measurements were ta)en in the #ertical direction. and then retighten while the spectrum is still measuring. If safety is not compromised. This is a feature of some data collectors that allows the user to continuously view the spectrum while the machinery is running. of course. Therefore. This condition often )but not always. the 1/ amplitude is 0. Figure +a. 4 common practice is to take a spectrum on the bearing housing of the e0uipment. The graphs in %igure 5 display typical before and after conditions. Take a spectrum in live mode.((/ to (.((5 inches while the remaining feet are bolted tight. To help determine a soft foot issue. energy during the loosening process can be a strong indication of the relief of machine frame distortion. . always keeping the others tight. 4ny notable reduction in the one-times )&!. This is handy if you are trying to view a transient event. loosen each foot one at a time. soft foot greatly increases the load on the bearings. causes an increase in overall machine vibration.It is. If the overall vibration level is too high. among them soft foot. results in increased power consumption and provokes metal fatigue of the shaft over time. . the bearings that directly transmit the forces re0uired to do this to the shafts. 1earings and seals suffer premature wear and are prone to premature failure. 2ibration data can reveal signs of many machinery health problems.efore the loosening se uenceAll four feet are tightened. How do you determine if soft foot is the culprit3 4 machine is determined to have a soft foot if the calculated value of movement of a machine foot when tightened or loosened is at least (.

machine frame and supporting foundation.. but you will need to further investigate with a good laser alignment tool. This is a great indication of which foot has the greatest impact on relief of soft foot distortion.Figure +b. This is typically in the neighborhood of (. 2ery often.e. there is a significant /! alternate current line fre0uency peak. both a!ially and radially.0*8 inches1second. After the loosening se uence2ne of the four feet was loose. dial indicator or feeler gauges to properly measure and correct the problem.(to &'(-degree phase difference between vertical measurements on the bolt. soft foot appears at &! the running speed of the e0uipment. Phase relationship can show differences . 8sing +hase 4nalysis The signature of soft foot sometimes appears similar to looseness because the foot may. machine foot. +hase analysis documents the relative motion between two different points. loose hold-down bolts. 4ll of these situations are part of machine frame distortion. misalignment characteristics may appear. 9ou can use it to determine continuity between two ad:acent pieces of machinery )i. The presence of this peak helps differentiate soft foot from imbalance and misalignment. be loose. #ften. the soft foot signature or pattern is hard to detect. The best indication of soft foot is an elevated &! *+M vibration value. 6ommonly. in fact.5 inches7second or higher. Figure (. +hase analysis will help reveal this.. the 1/ amplitude is now 0. Since soft foot can also affect alignment. but is occasionally present at two and three times *+M. +hase analysis may show a . or a cracked or broken foot. base plate or base )%igure /. deterioration of the grouting.. %oot looseness may emerge due to weakness in the base plate or foundation.

This saves a considerable amount of time due to the skipped setup time that is necessary when a tachometer is used to collect phase data. 4 0uick way to ac0uire this data is with a data collector that offers cross-channel phase measurements. machine foot. base plate or base. .between #ertical measurements on the bolt. This allows the user to take vibration readings with an accelerometer and ascertain the phase information without the use of a tachometer.