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How Pipe Strain Can Impede Machine Alignment and Performance

Pipe strain is a common problem that contributes to machine misalignment. When a machine is misaligned, all sorts of things can start to go wrong from simple less effective operation to complete machine breakdown. Here’s how you can improve your machine performance and reduce costly downtime by eliminating pipe strain.

Overall, there are two kinds of pipe strain: dynamic pipe strain and static pipe strain. Dynamic pipe strain happens when the machines are running, while static pipe strain occurs both when the machines are in operation and when they’re not. Static pipe strain is typically more common.

How Pipe Strain Impedes Alignment

Pipe strain from suction and discharge piping puts stress on the machine casings which in turn puts stress on the equipment body. It’s really common for this to cause an alignment shift of the shaft. As a result, there’s not really much point in realigning anything without first ensuring your suction and discharge piping are not forcing stress onto your machines.

How to Identify Pipe Strain

For static pipe strain, you can use a laser shaft alignment system to measure strain by mounting it to the system in the normal manner.

  1. Set the measuring units to 12 o’clock and use your values program to set both units to zero.
  2. Shift the shaft 90 degrees to the 3 o’clock position and note if the value is anything other than zero. Return the shaft to 12 o’clock and confirm the zero setting.
  3. Connect or disconnect the piping. Any changes to the values for the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions is the result of pipe strain causing movement being sent through the casing into the bearing and shaft.

Dynamic pipe strain is a lot harder to identify because it only happens during operation of the machine and piping. A lot of dynamic pipe strain is the result of thermal expansion of the piping as well as the weight of the system fluid. Dynamic pipe strain can be effectively minimised using the right tools that check for differences in a running and static machine. Get in contact with our team at Nexxis to find out more.

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