Center Pivot Damage From Friction And Drag

30 April 2019
 Categories: Industrial & Manufacturing, Blog

Center pivot and wiper pivot irrigation systems offer complete coverage in a field, but the constant movement can lead to friction damage or pressure from the drag exerted by the arm. Parts like U bends and joints may need more frequent replacement because of these factors. It's easy to forget to inspect new center pivot systems as frequently as you should; the newness of the setup can easily lead to thinking that the system will be fine for a while and not need any attention. It's best to keep up the same inspection schedule that you used with your old center pivot system. Wear from friction is one of those forms of damage that can seem to appear unexpectedly, and it's better to catch it early.

Rotation Friction

As the center pivot system turns, all of the parts involved in the rotation can rub against each other and create friction and vibrations. This isn't unique to these systems; any equipment with rotary parts is subject to the same problem. As such, you need to keep a close eye on the central pivot point and its connections. Ensure gaskets aren't cracking, joints are lubricated if needed in your system, and so on. Should any connectors or pipe parts like U bends show excess wear, replace them as soon as you can.

Internal Water Friction

The water traveling through the pipes to the irrigation points can actually create some friction. This is not such a problem for the physical interior of the pipes as it is for the entire system because of something called a friction coefficient that can lead to something called head loss. In other words, if the system doesn't pivot at the correct speed, you're not going to get an even distribution of water in the field. That sounds like it shouldn't have any effect on the equipment itself, but it does; if you don't calculate the rate correctly, you could overcompensate and end up having the equipment rotate too quickly. That just increases the overall wear and makes your new machinery get a little more worn on a faster timeline.

Outer Arm Drag on Joints

One more issue is that the "arm" that holds all the irrigation points experiences friction as it rotates through the field, but the outer edge may experience a little more as it has to travel a little faster, and because it's at the edge, it doesn't have support on one side. In other words, the parts closer to the central pivot point have support on both sides and underneath; the outer irrigation point really only has support on one side and underneath. The drag can be a little worse and add to the wear-damage problem.

Wear due to friction is a fact of life, but you can mitigate the effects of the wear through regular inspections. Replace parts as soon as you can to avoid malfunctions. Visit a site such as to learn more and find more resources.