Cooling Tower Fan

Vibrations Can turn Cooling Towers Into Cooling Nightmares

Hello once again, and welcome back to Industrial Cooling Solutions Inc.’s blog. In our last post we covered variable frequency drives and listed some of the benefits that these devices have for applications in the cooling tower industry. While the benefits of VFDs are pretty straightforward, we thought we would talk about a component of cooling towers that many people outside of the industry never think about: The vibration switch. This tiny little device keeps the whole operation running smoothly, and today it will get the recognition it deserves. We hope that after reading this blog post you will come away with a more confident understand of why vibration switches are so very important.

Feel the Vibrations

To talk about vibration in an industrial setting, we must first define a few terms. Vibration, in the mechanical sense, is the mechanical motion of a machine or machine part away from its equilibrium point. To put it in simpler terms, vibration happens when a part moves back and forth from its intended point of stability. While all machines experience some level of vibration, this motion becomes an issue when it exceeds the allowable safety standards of the given machine. To use an example that most people are familiar with, think of your car’s engine. When you start your car a noticeable vibration is experienced and is totally normal. However, have you ever started your car and noticed too much vibration? If you have then you probably had to get your engine serviced, because an excessive amount of vibration is indicative of engine problems. This same concept applies to any mechanical device, and is especially true in the industrial cooling tower industry.

Cooling Towers are Only as Effective as Their Fans

The Majority of industrial cooling towers use a large fan to circulate air. Whether this fan is placed at the top or the bottom of the tower doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is how efficiently the fan rotates. If a cooling towers fan isn’t rotating at an optimal rate, the tower is not doing the most effective job it can at dissipating heat. Cooling tower fans have rotation issues for multiple reasons, but one of the most common causes of fan failure is excessive vibration. Because these fans rotate at high speeds for extended periods of time, they can run afoul of simple physics. Centrifugal force, the same force that keeps you secured in a rollercoaster when it’s going through a loop, acts upon the fan as it rotates. These fans are designed to handle this force, but even the most well designed mechanical device will experience some issues at one time or another. Over the life of the fan’s operation, centrifugal force slowly but surely warps the equilibrium point of the fan, which in turn causes the fan to vibrate. To mitigate this effect, a vibration switch is installed to monitor the fan at all times.

Vibration Switches are Always Watching

The function of the vibration switch is to monitor the rotation of the fan, and make sure that it is running within the acceptable vibration level specified by the manufacturer. If the vibration switch detects too much vibration, it can be programmed to either slow down the fan’s rotation speed, or halt the fan’s rotation all together. By doing this, the vibration switch prevents the fan from becoming too wobbly and causing potential damage (or complete failure) to the cooling tower. If the vibration levels are considered too severe, maintenance workers can recalibrate the fan and avoid potential issues in the future. With such an important job, the vibration switch is one of the unsung heroes of the cooling tower industry.
If you want to learn more about vibration switches, or are simply interested in cooling towers, give us a visit today at Industrial Cooling Solutions Inc. Our cooling tower experts have the knowledge and skills needed to construct high-quality cooling towers for the industrial sector. With projects spanning multiple countries, no job is too big. We have proven ourselves to be able to handle jobs from simple applications all the way to complex industrial systems. Contact us today to learn more!