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Top Causes of Machine Component Failure & How to Prevent It

The natural world and its physical laws take a toll on everything, including heavy machine components. At this point in the 21st century, even with all of our cutting-edge lubricants, alloys, and synthetic fibers, we cannot create a perpetual motion machine

The complexity of a heavy machine is directly related to the specialized function it’s designed to perform, requiring more and more individual components to succeed. And at the end of the day, no components are “optional.” A failure in one part could mean the failure of the whole machine.

So, why exactly do individual components fail? At Cornerstone Mechanical, we’ve maintained industrial machinery throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, metro areas for decades. In that time, we’ve picked up a few recurring causes of component failure, including these.


In rotating or centrifugal machinery especially, friction is a serious threat. Misalignment of rotating components could cause points of increased wear throughout machine cycles, creating both friction and its cousin, heat. Where lubricants can be applied, the latest and greatest are always recommended. But friction doesn’t always come down to dry equipment. 

At Cornerstone Mechanical, we recommend laser alignment to prevent any disagreement between individual components that could lead to friction. This hyper-accurate alignment process can finely tune 8,000hp compressors and fractional motor pumps with equal precision, giving you peace of mind that no undue wear (or undue heat) sabotages your bottom line.


Heavy machinery creates heavy force. When a rotating machine is shaking the whole room, imbalance is an obvious possible source. But imbalance can occur in a much more subtle way too. How do you know when an imbalance is wreaking havoc on your machine’s components?

The easiest way is to test for it through a routine vibration monitoring program or an off-route vibration test, both of which Cornerstone can gladly help you with. Imbalance can dramatically accelerate the need for new components, compromise daily output, and drive down productivity by degrees day after day, year after year. To fix an imbalance issue, Cornerstone recommends dynamic balancing. Far from just a threat to individual components, imbalance can compromise the life, health, and functionality of the entire machine. 

User Error

This is an especially sensitive subject. The possibility of user error is always uncomfortable, most of all for the users themselves. But if we step back and level with ourselves, even the most diligent among us can admit to an absent mind now and then, or an accidentally pressed button after a late night. It quite literally happens to the best of us. 

Over years of service, user error is more the sum of many small errors than the effect of one large screw up. Preventing human error is down to regulations, training, and continued education among your workforce, but preventive maintenance and corrective maintenance can help close the gap between user and machine.

Preventive maintenance hopes to catch failure just before it occurs by repairing or replacing at-risk components. Corrective maintenance, meanwhile, aims to fix what’s broken as quickly and comprehensively as possible. Both forms of maintenance are a great idea for combatting user error.

Uneven or Absent Maintenance

As a cousin to user error, there’s the error that comes with a busy production schedule, high expectations, and quarterly goals. A lack of maintenance is only natural. It can be difficult, bordering on impossible, for a handful of individuals (or just one person) to stay on top of machine maintenance regularly.

At Cornerstone Mechanical, we can help you decide on a schedule of maintenance that fits your needs. When you plan maintenance ahead of time, you limit the possibilities of work stoppages, emergency repair costs, and injuries. Predictive maintenance is one of the most forward-looking forms of machine care, using regular appointments and data to “predict” when individual components might give up the ghost. 

Like a shepherd for his sheep, Cornerstone can herd your machine components to keep them from danger or sudden cliffs. Maintain your machinery when it’s most convenient for you with Cornerstone Mechanical. 

No Such Thing as a Perfect Machine

Even the best machines require vigilance. The good news is that user error has a better-looking brother: human diligence. At Cornerstone Mechanical, we specialize in human diligence, overseeing your rotating equipment and individual components with expert care and attention.

To fight friction, imbalance, user error, and a missing maintenance schedule, contact Cornerstone Mechanical today. Let us worry about your machinery so that you can get back to work.

Wear & tear meets scheduling, prediction, and prevention.

You don’t have to surrender your vital machinery to the cruel laws of force, momentum, and heat. Cornerstone Mechanical can guide your machine and your operation to smooth, consistent success with a program of maintenance to meet your needs. To learn more about our preventive, predictive, and corrective maintenance services, or to schedule laser alignment or dynamic balancing, contact us or call (214) 570-9498 today! 

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