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Machines and Foundations



The performance, safety and stability of machines depend largely on their design, manufacturing
and interaction with environment. In principle machine foundations should be designed such that
the dynamic forces of machines are transmitted to the soil through the foundation in such a way
that all kinds of harmful effects are eliminated.
In the past, simple methods of calculation were used most often involving the multiplication of
static loads by an estimated Dynamic Factor, the result being treated as an increased static load
without any knowledge of the actual safety factor. Because of this uncertainty, the value of the
adopted dynamic factor was usually too high, although practice showed that during operation
harmful deformations did result in spite of using such excessive factors. This necessitated a
deeper scientific investigation of dynamic loading. A more detailed study became urgent
because of development of machines of higher capacities.
Machines of higher ratings gave rise to considerably higher stresses thereby posing problems with
respect to performance and safety. This called for development partly in the field of vibration
technique and partly in that of soil mechanics. Hence new theoretical procedures were developed
for calculating the dynamic response of foundations.

It is well established that the cost of foundation is but a small fraction of that of the

machine and inadequately constructed foundations may result in failures and

shutdowns exceeding many times the cost of the capital investment required for
properly designed and built foundations.


A brief review indicates that over the years, many scientists have contributed to the field of
machine foundation design. Gieger in 1922 carried out investigations to determine the natural
frequencies of foundations. Rauch in 1924 dealt with the machine and turbine foundation and
contributed greatly to the practical and theoretical development of the science. A great emphasis
was thus laid on to vibration problems in machine foundations. Timoshenko (1928) & Den Hartog
(1934) dealt with many vibration problems in engineering practices. Later Wilson (1942), Arya


Machines and Foundations

(1958), Norris (1959), Harris and Crede (1961) contributed a lot in the field of vibration. D.Q
Barkan (1938) published his findings on dynamic effects on machine foundation. His basic work
on the results of theoretical and experimental investigation in the field of machine foundations
affected by dynamic action was published in 1948 and translated into English in 1962. Alexander
Ml'tior has also made a significant contribution in the field of machine foundation. His book on
"vibration analysis and design of foundations for machines and turbines" published in 1962
(translated from Hungarian) had been a very useful tool to deal with machine foundation problems.
Based on the scientific investigations carried out in the last few decades it has been established that
it is not enough to base the design only on vertical loads multiplied by a dynamic factor, even
if this factor introduces a dynamic load many times greater than original one. It should be
remembered that operation of the machines generated not only vertical forces, but also forces
acting perpendicular to the axis; it is thus not enough to take into account the vertical load and to
multiply it by a selected dynamic factor. It has also been found that the suitability of machine
foundations depends not only on the forces to which they will be subjected to, but also on their
behaviour when exposed to dynamic loads which depends on the speed on the machine and natural
frequency of the foundation. Thus a vibration analysis became necessary. In other words, it can be
said that each and every machine foundation does require detailed vibration analysis providing
insight in to the dynamic behaviour of foundation and its components for satisfactory performance
of the machine. The complete knowledge of load transfer mechanism from the machine to the
foundation and also the complete knowledge of excitation forces and associated frequencies are a
must for correct evaluation of machine performance.
The performance, safety and stability of machines depend largely on their design, manufacturing
and interaction with environment. In principle machine foundations should be designed such that
the dynamic forces of machines are transmitted to the soil through the foundation in such a way
that all kinds of harmful effects are eliminated. Hence, all machine foundations, irrespective of size
and type of machine, should be regarded as engineering problem and their design should be based
on sound engineering practices. The dynamic loads from the machines causing vibrations must
duly be accounted for to provide a solution, which is technicalIy sound and economical. For a
technically correct and economical solution, a close co-operation between manufacturer and the
foundation designer is a must.
Vibration problems have been drawing attention of scientists and engineers, since decades, world
over to find ways and means to have desired satisfactory performance of machines and to minimize
failures. In the past, due importance was not given to the machine foundation design. Simple
methods of calculation were used for strength design of the foundation by multiplying static loads
with an estimated Dynamic Factor. This resulted in consideration of increased static loads without
any knowledge of actual safety factor. Even with these so-called excessive loads, harmful effects
were observed during operation. Based on the scientific investigations carried out in the last few
decades it has been established that it is not enough to base the design on vertical loads only,
multiplied by an arbitrary Dynamic Factor.
Improvement in manufacturing technology has provided machines of higher ratings with better
tolerances and controlled behaviour. The increased dependence of society on machines provides
no room for failure and deinands equipment and systems with higher performance reliability. All

Machines and Foundations


problems could not be solved theoretically because a good amount of assumptions had to be made
for the analysis and these assumptions needed validation through experiments. Laboratory and field
measurements were thus introduced to determine carefully the effects of various parameters on the
dynamic response of machine foundation. Thus a detailed vibration analysis became necessary. It
was also realised that a careful dynamic investigation of soil properties is essential as the elastic
properties of the soil exercise considerable influence on the design of the foundation.
It is obvious that the cost of machine foundation is a small fraction of that of the equipment and
inadequately constructed foundations may result in failures and shutdowns whose cost itself may
exceed many times the cost of the properly designed and built foundations. Though, advanced
computational tools are available for precise evaluation of dynamic characteristics of machinefoundation system, their use in design office, which was limited in the past, has now been found to
be quite common.
The machine foundation system can be modeled either as a two-dimensional structure or threedimensional structure. For mathematical modeling and analysis, valid assumptions are made
keeping in view the following:

The mathematical model should be compatible to the Prototype structure within a

reasonable degree of accuracy
The mathematical model has got be such that it can be analysed with the available
mathematical tools
The influence of each assumption should be quantitatively known with regard to the
response of the foundation

Vibration isolation techniques have also been used to reduce vibrations in the machines. Isolation
leads to reduction in the transmissibility of the exciting forces from the machine to the foundation
and vice-versa. Uses of vibration isolation devices is one of the methods by which one can achieve
satisfactory performance which in tum can result in minimising failures and reduce downtime on
account of high vibrations. However, for equipment on elevated foundations, it is desirable to have
support structure stiffness sufficiently higher than overall stiffuess of isolation system in order to
get the desired isolation efficiency.
The support structure, a 3-D elevated structural system, possesses many natural frequencies. The
vibration isolation system, comprising o[machine, inertia block and the isolation devices, also has
six modes of vibration having specific stiffuess values corresponding to each mode of vibration.
Hence the comparison between stiffuess of structure and isolator becomes complex task. It is of
interest to note that lateral stiffness of elevated structures is very much lower than its vertical
stiffness. If this lower, (lateral) stiffuess is comparable to the stiffuess of isolators, it certainly
affects the overall stiffness and thereby the response of the machine foundation system. Hence,
lateral stiffness of support structure must also be computed and considered while selecting the
isolators. Finally it may be desirable to carry out detailed dynamic analysis of the complete system
including substructure. .


Machines and Foundations



Machine foundation system, in broader sense, comprises of machine, supported by foundation

resting over soil subjected to dynamic loads i) generated by machine itself; ii) applied externally,
or iii) caused by external sources and transmitted through soil. A typical system is as shown in
Figure 1.2-1.

'" ,,, ____________
generated J:




: machine & due to shock,

: .Impact, earthk
qua e etc , /'

1______ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - _ /

Figure 1.2-1

Machine Foundation System Qualification Subjected to Dynamic Loads

Irrespective of the source of dynamic load, the basic philosophy underlying design of machine
foundation is that:

The dynamic forces of machines are transmitted to the soil through the foundation in such
a way that all kinds of harmful effects are eliminated and the amplitudes of vibration of
the machine as well as that of the foundation are well within the specified limits.

Machines and Foundations



Foundation is structurally safe to withstand all static and dynamic forces generated by the
machine. To accomplish these objectives, every foundation needs to be analysed for
Dynamic Response, and thereafter for Strength Design


In any. machine foundation system, the equipment (the machine) is considered supported by a
foundation and the foundation in tum rests on the soil. A typical machine foundation system is as
shown in Figure 1.3-1.

Machine & Foundation

Foundation & Soil

Figure 1.3-1 A Typical Machine Foundation System

At this stage it is necessary to address as to how the equipment, foundation and soil are

Machine could either be connected to the foundation directly through the foundation bolts,
or it could be connected through isolation devices.
Foundation could either be a solid block resting diI:ectly on the soil or it may be resting on
the piles.
The foundation could also be a frame structure (Frame Foundation) resting directly on the
soil or it could be resting on the group of piles.

These interfaces, therefore, are essential to be appropriately addressed, for evaluating the dynamic
response of the machine correctly. Thus, the three main constituents of machine foundation system
that play significant role in overall controlling machine performance are, machine, foundation
and soil and these need to be adequately addressed. Modeling and Analysis are adequately
covered in Chapter 8.


Machines and Foundations



Based on type of motion, the machines are broadly classified as:


Rotary Machines
Reciprocating Machines
Impact Type Machines

Based on the speed of operation, the machines are grouped as:


Very low speed machines (up to 100 rpm)

b) Low speed machines (100 tol500rpm)


Medium speed machines (1500 to 3000rpm)

d) High speed machines (3000 rpm and above)

For foundation design, broadly, the following information is needed:

Geometric configuration of the machine

Loads from machine: Mass of the stationary as well as rotating parts of the machine and
load-transfer mechanism from the machine to the foundation

Critical machine performance parameters: Critical speeds of rotors, balance grade and
acceptable levels of amplitudes of vibration

Dynamic forces generated by the machine: Forces generated under various operating
conditions and their transfer mechanism to the foundation for dynamic response analysis

Additional Forces: Forces generated under emergency or faulted conditions, Test

condition, Erection condition & Maintenance condition of the machine, Forces due to
bearing failure (ifappJicable) for strength analysis of the foundation

These parameters are covered in detail in Chapter 6.



Machine type and its characteristics do play a significant role while selecting the type of
foundation. Most commonly used foundations in the industry are Block foundations and Frame
foundations that are covered in this handbook.


Machines and Foundations

Foundation Block

Figure 1.5-1 A Typical Block Foundation


Block Foundation

In this case, machine is mounted over a solid block, generally made of concrete. This block in tum
rests directly on the soil. In this case both machine and foundation block are considered as nonelastic inertia bodies and the soil is treated as mass less elastic media i.e. having only stiffness and
no inertia. Schematic view of a typical block foundation is shown in Figure 1.5-1.
Deck Slab

Figure 1.5-2 A Typical Frame Foundation


Frame Foundation

In this type of foundation, machine is supported on the deck slab. This deck slab in tum is
supported on base raft through columns and base raft rests directly over soil or on group of piles.
Size of deck slab, number of columns, height of columns above base raft etc. are primarily
dependent on machine layout. In this case machine is treated as nOn-elastic inertia body whereas
deck slab, and columns are considered as elastic inertia bodies and soil is considered as elastic

Machines and Foundations


media. In certain specific cases, base raft is also considered as elastic inertia body. Schematic view
of a typical frame foundation is shown in Figure 1.5-2.


Tuning of the Foundation

Foundation, for which its vertical natural frequency is above the operating speed of the machine, is
termed as over-tuned foundation or high-tuned foundation and the foundation, for which its
vertical natural frequency is below the operating speed of the machine, is termed as under-tuned
foundation or low-tuned foundation.


Foundation Material

Plain Concrete, Brick, Reinforced Cement Concrete, Pre-Stressed Concrete and Steel are the
material employed for machine foundation construction. Foundations using steel structures have
also been used for frame foundations. The sizes of structural members in steel foundations are less
than those for RCC foundations and accordingly their space requirement is much less. As regards
vibration, steel structures undoubtedly involve' higher risk. Natural frequencies are low and the
foundation is deeply under-tuned. The resistance to fire of a steel structure is lower than that of
reinforced concrete one. Most high tuned foundations are built of reinforced concrete. Vibration
amplitudes are reduced due to relatively higher damping present in the concrete.


Foundation Analysis and Design

Every foundation is analysed for its dynamic response and checked for strength and stability. Using
the machine, soil and foundation parameters, amplitUdes of vibration are computed at machine as
well as foundation level. In addition foundation is designed for its strength and stability to
withstand applicable static and dynamic forces. For this the dynamic forces of the machine are
translated into equivalent static forces on the foundation. Strength check of the foundation is also
done for forces due to environmental effects like wind & earthquake etc.
Should the strength analysis indicate need for change in the foundation size, a recheck on the
dynamic analysis with the revised foundation size is a must. Typical foundation parameters needed
for design of machine foundation system are:

Foundation geometry
Material properties i.e. mass density, dynamic modulus of elasticity, Poisson's ratio,
coefficient of thermal expansion, etc.
Strength parameters i.e. Yield stress, UTS, Allowable stress in compression, tension,
bending and shear, etc.

These parameters in detail are covered in chapter 7. Construction aspects of these foundations are
covered in Chapter 13.

Machines and Foundations




It is an established fact that the soil properties significantly influence the dyrtamic response of
machine foundation system. Identical machines with identical foundations have been reported to
behave differently in different soil conditions. For block foundation, the soil influence is
predominant. The dynamic response largely depends upon mass of the machine, mass of the block,
the geometry of the block and soil dynamic properties. However for frame foundations, it is
generally reported that consideration of soil structure interaction i) induces additional modes
pertaining to soil deformation with relatively low frequencies and ii) has a tendency to marginally
enhance structural frequencies.

Soil system is a complex entity in itself and there are many uncertainties associated with its
modeling. Correct evaluation of dynamic soil properties, however, is the most difficult task. These
properties may vary from site to site, from location to location and from machine to machine as
well as with variation of depth of foundation. Under the influence of dynamic forces, the
foundation interacts with the soil activating dynamic soil structure interaction, which significantly
influences the dynamic response of machine foundation system.
Depending upon type of analysis, soil is represented as an elastic half space with the help of
equivalent soil springs represented by elastic sub-grade reaction coefficients. Typical soil
parameters and dynamic properties of soil used in machine foundation design are:

Young's Modulus of Elasticity

Shear modulus

Poisson's ratio

Mass density

Soil damping


Coefficients of uniform compression of the soil


Coefficients of non-uniform compression of the soil


Coefficients of uniform shear of the soil

c", -'

Coefficients of non-uniform shear of the soil

The significant aspects of soil properties, which influence soil structure interaction, are: Energy
Transfer Mechanism, Soil Mass Participation in Vibration of Foundations, Effect of Embedment of
Foundation, Applicability of Hook's Law to Soil, Reduction in Permissible Soil Stress and
Dynamic Soil Parameters.
These influences have suitably been addressed in Chapter 5.



Machines and Foundations


Isolation means reduction in the transmissibility of the exciting forces from the machine to the
foundation and vice-versa. Vibration isolation devices have been used to achieve satisfactory
performance. Isolation in broader sense includes the following:

Control of transmission of dynamic forces from machine to the foundation and thereby to
the adjoining structures and equipment
Isolation of equipment from the vibration effects of the adjoining system
Isolation from external forces like Earthquake Shock, Blast etc.

For cases, where a bunch of vibratory machines are to be mounted on a common elevated platform,
vibration isolation may tum out to be a better proposition. Vibration Isolation Design for machine
foundation systems includes, isolation requirement, isolation design, selection of isolation devices,
influence of sub-structure (wherever applicable) on the response, etc.
Basic theory of Vibration Isolation is dealt in Chapter 4 and the design of foundations with
Vibration Isolation System is covered in Chapter 12.



It goes without saying that proof of the pudding is in eating only. A feed back from the site for the
machine's performance therefore is essential. The data needs to be recorded at frequent intervals at
site, compiied over a period of time and feedback provided to design office for drawing necessary
inferences from the same and use these for design updates.
It is the general practice in the industry to pay more attention only to those machines that do
not perform well. More often than not, for every malfunction one keeps on trying modifications in
the machine like better balancing, replacing bearings etc till satisfactory results are achieved. It is
worth noting that every time the malfunction occurs the cause may not be machine alone but it
could be foundation too. In certain cases, desired results could be achieved by correcting the
source, which may be other than the machine.

In the opinion of the author, the data for healthy machines also need to be studied at regular interval
and feedback given to designers. This will certainly help in improving design methodologies.
Some case studies are covered in Chapter 14.


Basic Understanding with Specific Application
Machine Foundation Design

2. Single Degree of Freedom System

3. Multi Degree of Freedom System
4. Vibration Isolation