DynaVibe has a long association with aviation as an affordable system for dynamically balancing propellers. The principles of balancing, however, apply not just to propellers, but any device that spins. The Alaska Department of Transportation is using a DynaVibe Classic system to keep brush cutting and snow removal equipment operating at peak efficiency.
The idea to use DynaVibe came from an employee in one of the shops who was an A&P mechanic and had experience using the system to balance propellers and rotors. Aware of DynaVibe’s ability to achieve precision when balancing, he started using the system to balance a brush cutter that had a rotating head. When Lon Needles, shop foreman of the Transportation Department's State Equipment Fleet, heard about this, he asked this employee to come and demonstrate how it is done.
“This equipment will hit rocks and things and get out of balance, and it will shake the guys out of the cab,” said Needles. The balancing demonstration was enough to convince him that they too needed a DynaVibe to balance the brush cutters in their shop. Once the DynaVibe was in their possession, Needles began to wonder what other equipment they could balance with it.
“We have our snow blowers here,” continued Needles. “Valdez averages 300 inches of snow a year; Thompson Pass, just up the road a little bit, gets 700 inches per year, so we use the heck out of our snow blowers. If they hit a rock or something, it can mess them up, so we balance the spinning rotor in there with DynaVibe too.”
The impellers in these machines are heavy, perhaps weighing as much as a ton. “When they get out of whack, I’ve seen them sit there and bounce the whole head off the ground.” Needles shares an experience about a brush cutter that was so out of balance that “it would literally shake the coffee out of the operator’s coffee cup.” After balancing this equipment, “you could barely see a ripple with it running wide open.”
The value of keeping these machines in balance is less wear-and-tear – for both the machine and the operators. “When a machine is not sitting there vibrating, it’s smooth; it takes the fatigue away from the operator, and while I can’t prove it, I think it takes the metal fatigue away from the machine. Nuts and bolts aren’t trying to come apart. It’s noticeable.”
By spending the time to balance, Needles and his team are able to eliminate virtually all the vibration from the spinning components of their machinery. The snow blowers are balanced about once a year; the brush cutters about twice per year or as needed. It takes about an hour to balance a machine. “Anything that spins, we seem to be able to balance it,” Needles concludes.
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