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Machine foundations

The foundations are subjected to static or dynamic load or

combination of both. The static loads are imposed on the foundations
slowly and gradually in such a way as to avoid any vibration of the
foundation soil system. The machine foundation must satisfy the
criteria for dynamic loading, in addition to that of static loading. The
dynamic loads are time variable load, e.g. Earthquake, impact, blast
loads etc.
These dynamic forces are transmitted
to the foundation supporting the
machine. Although the moving parts
of the machine are generally
balanced, there is always some
unbalance in practice which causes
an eccentricity of rotating parts. This
produces an oscillating force.

Types of vibrating machines

1. Machines which produce a periodic unbalanced force, such as
reciprocating engines and compressors. The speed of such
machines is generally less than 600 rpm. In these machines, the
rotary motions of the crank are converted into the translatory
motion. The unbalanced force varies sinusoidally.

Types of vibrating machines

2. Machines which produce impact loads, such as forge hammers and
punch presses. In these machines, the dynamic force attains a
peak value in a very short time and then dies out gradually. The
response is a pulsating curve. It vanishes before the next pulse.
The speed is usually between 60 to 150 blows per minute.

Types of vibrating machines

3. High speed machines, such as turbines and rotary compressors.
The speed of such machines is very high, it is even more than
3000 rpm.

Types of machine foundations

The following four types of machine foundations are commonly
used1. Block type: This type of
machine foundation consists of a
pedestal resting on a footing. The
foundation has a large mass and a
small natural frequency.
2. Box type: The foundation
consists of a hollow concrete
block. The mass of the foundation
is less than that in the block type
and the natural frequency is

3. Wall type: The foundation consists

of a pair of walls having a top slab.
The machine rests on the top slab.

4. Framed type: This type of

foundation consists of vertical
columns having a horizontal frame at
their tops. The machine is supported
on the frame.



1. Vibration (oscillation): It is the time dependent, repeated motion

of translation or rotational type.
2. Periodic motion: It is the motion which repeats itself periodically
in equal time intervals.
3. Period (T): The time period in which the motion repeats itself is
called the period of motion or simply period.
4. Cycle: The motion completed in the period is called the cycle of
5. Frequency (f): The number of cycles of motion in a unit of time is
known as the frequency of vibration. It is expressed in hertz. (Cycles
per second). And

6. Free vibration: Free vibrations occur under the influence of forces

inherent in the system itself, without any external force. However, to
start free vibrations, some external force or natural disturbance is
required. Once started, the vibration continues without an external
7. Forced vibrations: Forced vibrations occur under the influence of
a continuous external force.
8. Natural frequency: The system under free vibrations vibrates at
the frequency known as natural frequency. The natural frequency is
the characteristics of the system. A system may have more than one
natural frequency.
9. Resonance: When the frequency of the exciting force is equal to
one of the natural frequencies of the system, the amplitudes of the
motion become excessively large. This condition is known as

10. Damping: The resistance to motion which develops due to

friction and other causes is known as damping.
11. Principal modes of vibrations: A system with more than one
degree of freedom vibrates in complex modes. However, if each
point in system follows a definite pattern of common natural
frequency, the mode is systematic and orderly and is known as the
principal mode of vibration.
12. Degree of freedom: The number of independent coordinates
required to describe the motion of a system is called the degree of

1. Undamped free vibration: Free vibrations means the structure is

disturbed from equilibrium and then vibrates without any applied
forces. The damping forces cause the dissipation of the motion. It is
undamped i.e. the coefficient of damping c=0. This system is also
called as a Single Degree of Freedom system.(SDOF).
2. Undamped forced vibration: In this external force f(t) is applied
and coefficient of damping c = 0.
3. Damped free vibration: In this no external force is applied i.e. f(t) = 0 and
damping is present i.e. coefficient of damping c 0.
4. Damped forced vibration: In this external force is applied i.e. f(t) 0 and
also damping is present i.e. coefficient of damping c 0.

Criteria for the Design of Machine Foundations

1. Static Loading
a.Without shear failure
b. Without any excessive settlement
2. Dynamic loading
The amplitude of motion should not exceed limiting amplitude.
Permissible amplitude is 0.2mm.
Vibrations must not be annoying to the persons working in
factory or surroundings.

Degree of freedom of a block foundation:

A rigid block foundation has 6
degree of freedom.
Any displacement can be resolved
into 6 independent displacements as
under1.Translation along X-axis
2.Translation along Y-axis
3.Translation along Z-axis
4.Rotation about X-axis
5.Rotation about Y-axis
6.Rotation about Z-axis

General criteria for design of machine foundations:

A good machine foundation should satisfy the following criteria-

1. It should be safe against shear failure caused by superimposed

loads and also settlements should be within permissible limits.
2. There should be no possibility of resonance. The natural frequency
of the foundation should be either greater or smaller than the
operating frequency of the machine.
3. The amplitudes under service conditions should be within the
permissible limits for the machine.
4. The center of gravity of the machine should pass through the
center of gravity of the foundation.

5. Machine foundation should be taken to a level lower than the

foundation level of the other foundations and should be isolated.
6. The vibrations produced should neither be annoying to the
persons or detrimental to other structures.
7. The depth of the ground water table should be at least of the
width of the foundation below the base line.

Vibration analysis of a machine foundation:

For simplification, although a machine foundation has 6 degree of

freedom, it is assumed to have single degree of freedom.
In this case the mass mf of the system lumps together the mass of the
machine and the mass of the foundation. The total mass mf acts at the
center of gravity of the system. The mass is under the supporting
action of the soil. The elastic action can be lumped together into a
single elastic spring with a stiffness k. Likewise all the resistance to
motion is lumped into the damping coefficient c. Thus the machine
foundation reduces to a single mass having one degree of freedom.

Determination of parameters:
For vibration analysis of a machine foundation, the parameters m, c
and k are required.
1. Mass (m): When a machine vibrates, some portion of the
supporting soil mass also vibrates. The vibrating soil mass is known as
the participating soil mass. Therefore, the total mass of the system is
equal to the mass of the foundation block and machine (mf) and the
mass of the participating soil (ms).
There is no rational method to determine ms. The value of ms generally
varies from 0 to mf. In other words total mass m varies between mf and
2 mf in most cases.
2. Spring stiffness (k): The spring stiffness depends upon the type of
soil, embedment of the foundation block, the contact area and the
contact pressure distribution.

Vibration isolation and control:

Vibrations may cause harmful effects on the adjoining structures and
machines. Besides, these vibrations cause annoyance to the persons
working in the area around the machine. However, if the frequency
ratio is kept outside the critical range of 0.4 and 1.50, and the
amplitude is within the permissible limits, the harmful effects are
considerably reduced, especially if the system is damped.
The following measures are generally adopted1. The machine foundation should be located away from the
adjoining structures. This is known as geometric isolation.
2. Additional masses known as dampers are attached to the
foundations of high frequency machines to make it a multiple
degree freedom system and to change the natural frequency.
(In reciprocating machines, the vibrations are considerably reduced
by counterbalancing the exciting forces by attaching
counterweights to the sides of the crank).

3. Vibrations are considerably reduced by placing absorbers, such as

rubber mountings, felts and corks between the machine and the base.
4. If an auxiliary mass with a spring attached to the machine
foundation, the system becomes a two degree freedom system. The
method is especially effective when the system is in resonance.
5. If the strength of the soil is increased by chemical or cement
stabilization, it increases the natural frequency of the system. The
method is useful for the machines of low operating frequency.
6. The natural frequency of the system is modified by making
structural changes in foundation, such as connecting the adjoining
foundations, changing the base area or mass of foundation or use of
attached slabs.
7. The propagation of waves can be reduced by providing sheet
piles, screens or trenches.

Reinforcement and construction details:

1. The reinforcement in the concrete block should not be less than 25
kg/m3. (For m/c pumping explosive gases, a minimum reinforcement is
40 kg/m3)
2. Steel reinforcement around all pits and openings shall be at least equal
to 0.5 to 0.75% of the c/s area of the pit or opening.
3. The reinforcement shall run in all the three directions. ( minimum 12
mm bars at 200mm to 250 mm spacing extending both vertically and
horizontally near all faces of foundation blocks, and the ends of the bars
should always be hooked.
4. If the height of the foundation block exceeds one meter, shrinkage
reinforcement shall be placed at suitable spacing in all the three
5. The minimum cover should be of 75 mm at the bottom and 50 mm at
top and sides.
6. The concrete grade shall be at least M15.
7. The foundation block should be cast preferably in single continuous

Soil spring constants:

(a) Coefficient of elastic uniform compression (Cu): It is the ratio of
external uniform pressure to the elastic part of the settlement.
(b) Coefficient of elastic uniform shear (C): It is the ratio of average
shear stress at the foundation contact area to the elastic part of the
displacement in sliding.
(c) Coefficient of elastic non-uniform shear (C): It is the ratio of the
external moment applied to the vertical axis to the product of
polar moment of inertia of contact area of base of foundation and
the angle of rotation of foundation.
(d) Coefficient of elastic non-uniform compression (C): It is the ratio
of external moment about a horizontal axis to the product of
moment of inertia of contact area of base of foundation about the
same axis and the corresponding angle of rotation of the
foundation uniform pressure to the elastic part of the settlement.

Determination of soil spring constants:

The following methods are used for the insitu determination of
Dynamic properties:
1. Cyclic plate load test
2. Block vibration test
3. Free vibration test
4. Wave propagation test

Cyclic plate load test:

Where p load intensity in kN/m 2 or kg/cm 2
Se elastic rebound corresponding to p in m or cm
c u expressed in kN/m 3or kg/cm 3

Relationship between elastic constants:

Cu 1.5 to 2.0 C
C 3.46 C
C 0.75C u

Block vibration test:

Amplitude displacement A

4 2 f

4 2 f nz M
Coefficient of elastic uniform compression Cu

f nz resonant frequency in the vertical direction
M mass of the block and the oscillator on the top of the block
A f Area of the foundation
Cul Cu


f 2 f1
Fraction of the critical damping
2 f nz

Natural frequency of the system n


where n is in radians per second

2 m
f n is in cycles per second
Also f n



m f mc

Barken gave the following relation for the natural frquency

Cu A
The maximum amplitude is given by
Az or z max
m n (1 r 2 )

Coefficient of elastic uniform coefficient (C u ) 1.13
(1 2 ) A
Where Fa exciting force and r Frequency ratio

Design procedure for a block foundation

1. Obtain machine data
2. Obtain soil data
3. Assume a trial size of the foundation
4. Evaluate the natural frequency and amplitude of vibrations
5. Check for resonance and whether amplitude is within
acceptable limits.