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A lot has been written about the alignment of rotary kilns, as well as about energy
saving, efficiency, emissions reduction, and component life extension. But are these
issues interrelated? The answer is, firmly, yes, and to such an extent that you can
write a formula:

alignment + adjustment + balancing = reliability + efficiency = savings

Hot kiln alignment service, if performed as a complete solution, can improve

the operation of the kiln and meet the above formula. Moreover, this is the least
expensive way to extend component life, reduce forces in the supports and the
drive system, and thus postpone high expenses.
balancing stage is just as important as the measurements
and alignment. This is because there is an unused
potential in these actions. When adjusting kiln alignment,
the shift of the rollers and the axial thrusts influence a
better distribution of support loads, reduce stress on the
shell, decrease the load on the bearings, reduce wear
on the rings and rollers, decrease the drive torque, and
decrease the energy consumption. In the long term,
savings will be made due to extensive component life
and the postponement of replacement parts, sometimes
for years. Kilns that had been exploited and had to be
Kiln stress analysis. stopped, could be temporarily activated in a time of
increased need, and, following a complex service of
alignment and adjustment, continue producing for the
next 5 yr.
Kiln inspection should not end here. It is essential to
include measurements of any changes to the kiln shell
geometry, any permanent and flexible deformations
(shell profile, shell ovality), any radial run-outs and any
wobbling of tyres and a verification of cyclical change of
loads (the so-called crank formation). A detailed check
of these parameters allows for an assessment of the
kiln shell’s condition, the influence of deformation on
Rollers and tyre stress analysis. the condition of the refractory lining, and its lifespan.
If an excessive undertyre clearance – and thus excessive
shell ovality – are detected during the inspection, this
can be corrected relatively easily using shimming during
the closest scheduled kiln stoppage. Again, a simple
measurement, proper conclusions, and implentation of
any recommendations by a client can protect the kiln
from failure, the refractory lining from falling out, and, in
extreme cases, can prevent superheating and permanent
shell deformation. The results of such an event are
disastrous; however, prevention is simple and relatively
inexpensive. The facts speak for themselves.
When a kiln frequently has bearing overloads (hot
bearings), shell cracks, roller shaft cracks or frame cracks,
in spite of measuring alignment and adjustment, then the
kiln should again be mechanically verified. This process is
the reverse of the design stage: the same parameters are
A Geoservex expert at work, checking for roller profile. checked but the kiln is real, and the process is based on real
dimensions and production parameters. There are cases of
For 40 yr, Geoservex has been dealing with rotary an uneven distribution of support loads, with simultaneous
kiln alignment across the whole world, having pioneered dimensional overdesign, that stress the kiln shell, but can
the hot kiln alignment method. The kiln inspection must be fixed if the kiln axis position is optimised. This technique
be considered as a service for improving the mechanical has been known by producers for many decades but it is
condition of the running kiln, meaning that alignment, not widely offered.
adjustment, and balancing are inseperable. Here, there are various opportunities. Optimisation of
the load distribution can prevent the shell from frequent
What should a detailed kiln inspection cracks, if they occur, as well as reducing the number of
include? unscheduled stoppages, overheated bearings, expensive
The service should begin by measuring the alignment exchanges, and losses in production. The calculation process
and the other kiln parameters, but it should also extend itself is a task for professionals, but the implementation of
beyond this. True kiln alignment takes place in the plant, corrections is quite simple and is performed in the same
jointly with the maintenance team, under the supervision way as a regular axis adjustment: through the adjustment
of experts, and consists of adjusting the position of the of the position of the rollers, while the kiln is in operation,
rollers and their skewing, observing axial thrusts, and with no losses to production, during the same visit as the
eventually adjusting (balancing) the thrust forces and kiln inspection. Moreover, the cost of these treatments
the pressure of the hydraulic thrust system. The thrust is lower than one emergency stoppage, not to mention

Reprinted from August 2017

World Cement
the cost of the broken component and   ­€ ‚  ƒ 
its necessary exchange. In other words,   „…†‡ˆ‚  ƒ 
if undergoing the complex service of the   

hot kiln alignment means that at least one   

negative event during production is avoided, 


its cost is returned, with interest. Documented


cases are known of drive amperage 

decreasing by 25%, which, during the   

production year, caused savings exceeding the
  ­€ ‰  ƒ 
inspection cost, alignment, and kiln balancing     Š     Š     Š
€  ‹Œ€  
multiple times. 

Maintenance managers sometimes pay 

more attention to the more spectacular 

projects, such as upgrades, overhauls, and 


component exchanges. Ready-to-use and 


expensive solutions are given on a plate by 

kiln producers. However, in practice, the

relatively inexpensive prevenative service of a
regular kiln inspection, alongside adjustment  

and balancing, can give kiln users calculable Case study: situation ‘as found’ on described rotary kiln.
benefits. This service, if performed wholly and
comprehensively, can increase the reliability of
the installation, provide a longer component
life, decrease energy costs, and postpone high

Case study
The kiln: three tyres, 68 m, 3.5 rpm, 3500 tpd.


ll Crack in the shell at the middle tyre.

ll Hot bearings on the middle pier.
ll A hot thrust collar on the left side of the
outlet pier.
ll Refractory failure under the outlet tyre.
ll Hydraulic system pressure exceeding 100
ll High drive amperage.
Case study: recommended action, adjustment vectors, and reaction of thrust
Inspection results

ll Measured kiln axis deviation: +11 mm vertical, +5 mm upwards. Thrust pressure dropped to 80 Bar. Bearing
horizontal, on middle pier. temperatures dropped to regular levels.
ll Measured undertyre clearance: 12 mm on outlet pier ll Adjustment of the remaining rollers that were
(hot condition); ovality 35% over limit. skewed to pushing down and, simultaneously, of
ll Measured roller skewing: up to 5 mm, creating those that were pushing the kiln up, in order to
opposite thrust forces. reduce all skewing to minimal values. The hydraulic
system pressure stabilised at 40 – 60 Bar. Drive power
Immediate action on site consumption decreased by 6%.

ll Adjustment of the kiln axis by incremental shifts of Longer perspective action

the rollers under normal operation, giving permanent
control of thrust pressure. ll Recommendation for proper shimming of outlet
ll Adjustment of the roller skewing, starting from the tyre.
roller that was heating the thrust collar by pushing ll Undertyre clearance was set up at 3 – 6 mm (hot
down, in order to reduce the temperature and condition), considering possible hot peaks at the
change the mechanical position to pushing slightly burning zone.

Reprinted from August 2017

World Cement
ll Shell ovality to return to its regular limit, extending of rollers skewing, inclination, profile, checks of the
the life of the refractory lining. kiln shell deformation and ovality, and checks for crank
formation, tyre wobbling, and gear run-out. Also
Benefits of this action necessary is the preparation and skillful presentation of
the adjustment programme and, eventually, supervision
ll Prevention against uneven load of the supports. of the suggested adjustment, as well as the balancing
ll Elimination of excess longitudinal stress in the shell, of the axial thrust. The above-mentioned activities are
meaning no more cracks on the shell. sometimes time consuming. Thrust balancing takes place
ll Elimination of high thrust forces for the rollers and through the iterative implementation of corrections
tyres, and side guidance for the thrust rollers. with the simultaneous observation of the kiln’s reaction
ll Elimination of hot bearings and hot to particular supports, bearing temperatures, and thrust
thrust collars. collars, as well as hydraulic system operation and its
ll Prevention against refractory loss and pressure. The issue is, by nature, not seen in time.
excess ovality. So, is the formula given at the beginning practically
ll Reduction of the heavy torque on applied? Certainly, but on the condition that it is
the kiln drive that was caused by performed comprehensively, with emphasis on the
misalignment and unbalanced opposite performance of adjusting and balancing activities. The
thrust forces. potential that this preventive service gives to a kiln
ll Reduction of energy consumption. client is not used even in part, and hot kiln alignment
ll Protection of the components against is often associated with measurements that are made
high wear, which shortens production remotely and collated in a paper report, rather than with
life. preventive work performed on the kiln. A change in the
ll Prevention against unexpected perception of this service is key for attaining the above-
stoppages in the middle of the specified effects and savings. It is significant that the
production season. maintenance manager, who best understands the above-
mentioned benefits, should have a greater influence on
Conclusion the choice of service supplier. The devil is in the details:
Long-term experience shows that a detailed kiln choosing the wrong supplier of such a sensitive service
inspection should include specified elements in order to may provide tiny savings at the time of the order, but
give a kiln user and ordering party calculable benefit. will cause large savings to be lost in the longer term, in
This includes measurements of the kiln axis, geometry contrast to the preventive actions described above.

Reprinted from August 2017

World Cement