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DoctorKnow Application Paper

Balancing, Identification and Correction
Source/Author: Lance Bisinger
General, UltraSpec
Technology: Balance, Vibration
Identification and Correction
Lance Bisinger
Training Instructor
Computational Systems Incorporated Knoxville, TN 37932

An instructor in CSI's Training department, Lance teaches a variety of courses including,

Vibration Analysis I and II, Electric Motor Diagnostics, Bearing Analysis, Balancing,
Alignment and Single Channel Analyzer courses. Other responsibilities include developing
course material, instructing and certifying individuals in all aspects of predictive
maintenance. He was an Electrician's Mate and Sound/Vibration Technician in the US
Navy. Lance has six years of field experience and most recently was the manager of a
multi-technology contractual predictive maintenance program for a motor repair facility.
Many times technicians have been sent out to perform balance jobs on equipment that was
"vibrating". Some of these attempts were successful, while others were an exercise in
futility. This course will help you decide what equipment requires balancing and provide step
by step instruction on how to balance.
What is Unbalance?
Unbalance occurs when the rotor's center of mass is not at the center of rotation. More
simply stated, there is a heavy spot on the rotating element.
Unbalance can be cause by:

Machining tolerances allowing assembly error

Eccentric components
Voids in casting
Wear or corrosion
Thermal or mechanical distortion
Material build-up
Bent or broken components

Unbalance effects all aspects of production by:


Decreasing machine life expectancy, structural integrity and bearing life

Decreasing machinery maintenance intervals
Lowering product quality
Degrading quality of work environment

Extending Machine Life

Adapting the approach of correcting unbalance only after the equipment is in danger of
Catastrophic failure is counter productive. By this time the unbalance has reduced the rated
bearing life significantly. In fact, unbalance is one of the major contributors to premature
bearing failure. The following formula can be used to calculate the theoretical life of ball

H= Ball bearing life in hours
C= Capacity of bearing in lbs. (from manufacturing specs)
L= In-service bearing load (in lbs.)
M= Weight of mass opposing vibration (in lbs.)
V= Measured vibration in velocity (in inches per second)
F= frequency of vibration in CPM or RPM
Example Case:
Dead load = 1000 lbs
Bearing capacity = 20,000 lbs
Mass = 13,000 lbs
RPM = 1800

Structural integrity can also be effected by unbalance. As the amount of unbalance

increases the effects of centrifugal force will increase as shown below:


Fc = centrifugal force
UB = unbalance
RPM = shaft speed in RPM
The centrifugal force increases by the square of the speed. Therefore, if the speed doubles,
then Fc increases by a factor of four.
Identifying Unbalance
Unbalance is one of many common sources of vibration in rotating machinery. The ability to
distinguish between unbalance and other sources of vibration is an essential first step in
any analysis or balancing effort. The following discusses the vibration characteristics of
unbalance and the analytical techniques used for confirmation.
Characteristics of Unbalance
The basic characteristics of unbalance are straightforward and easy to understand.
Unbalance occurs when the mass of a rotor is not equally distributed about the bearing axis
of the rotor. As the rotor spins, vibration results because of the unequal forces. The
vibration will have the same characteristics as the force that causes it:

The dominant vibration will occur at the rotating speed of the rotor.
The vibration will be highest in the radial direction.
The amplitude and the phase angle of the vibration will be steady and
The phase angle of the vibration will differ by 90 from horizontal to vertical.

Confirming Unbalance
Several measurements can help determine whether the principal problem is unbalance
Spectrum Analysis:

Significant amplitude at 1xRPM and very little harmonics

No other peaks with significant amplitude
Use zoom or synchronous averaging to verify exact character of 1xRPM peak:
Vibration at 1xTS is not the result of a double peak.
Frequency and amplitude are only result of shaft in question.
1xRPM amplitudes in the horizontal and vertical are not vastly different
(greater than 3:1)

unless highly asymmetric stiffness in the structure.


Axial 1xRPM vibration levels should be significantly less than the radial levels.

Waveform Analysis:

Very sinusoidal, symmetric waveform with 1 event per shaft revolution. No

truncation or sharp discontinuities.
Beats indicate the presence of closely spaced frequencies.

Phase Data:

Horizontal versus vertical readings on the same bearing housing should be

about 90 (30).
The relationship between horizontal readings from end to end should be about
the same as the relationship between the vertical probes (30).
Phase is relatively steady 15 - 20.

Balancing Procedure
The most common problem in the balancing procedure is omitting the first step: problem
identification. Attempting to correct a vibration problem by balancing without first analyzing
the machine can result in a very frustrating experience.
Vibration due to imbalance always occurs at the operating frequency. If the vibration is at
any other frequency or at harmonics of operating frequency there is some other cause. You
cannot correct misalignment, bad bearings, structural looseness, etc., by balancing the
The machine to be balanced may have multiple problems. For example, there may be a
high 1xTS due to the imbalance and prominent harmonics of 1xTS due to structural
looseness. As a general rule, address the worst problem first.
Walk around inspection
Before any readings are taken a machinery inspection should be performed. This should
identify any loose components or structural problems. If either of these problems are found,
they must be corrected before balancing begins.
Machine readings
A set of readings should be collected on the machine to confirm imbalance as the problem.
Since an industry-wide fallacy exists that imbalance is the common cause of machinery
vibration, there is a
tendency to do inadequate, or no, vibration analysis before attempting to balance a rotor.
Preparing for the balance job
Once you have determined through careful analysis that imbalance is the forcing function
and field balancing is needed, your initial preparations should include:


If the rotor has significant environmental or process material adhering to the

surfaces, then have it thoroughly cleaned. The rotor may return to acceptable
balance conditions when clean.
Mount vibration transducers at each bearing. The transducers should be
rigidly mounted to the bearing and should not be moved during the entire
Provisions to read phase within 5. Take phase readings from one shaft
reference throughout the balancing procedure.
The operating frequency should be repeatable run to run.

Availability of correction weights and a means of determining the weight.

Balancing steps
1. Collect an "as is" measurement of vibration and phase. This data will be used for the
reference run.
2. Shut down the machine and add a known weight at a known location. This will be the
trial run and it will determine the system response.
3. The correction weight amount and location can now be calculated.
4. Place the correction weight on the rotor and take a new reading.
5. If this produces 1xTS vibration that is in tolerance then the balance is complete. If the
1Xts vibration is not in tolerance then a trim balance must be performed.
6. Perform trim balance runs until 1xTS vibration is acceptable.

1. CSI Training Department, "Balancing I," Training Manual, Computational Systems,
Incorporated, Knoxville, TN, 1993.

All contents copyright 1998, Computational Systems, Inc.

All Rights Reserved.