The process of shaft alignment is relatively straightforward, particularly with the arrival of easy-to-use and highly accurate laser alignment tools. But technology can’t replace common sense and there is one crucial factor that should always be included in the shaft alignment process – a thorough coupling inspection.
A laser device doesn’t rely on the human factor and there’s no time-consuming trial and error process. These tools are lightweight and easy to operate and most importantly, they enable measurements that are far more accurate and reliable than those from any traditional method.
No-one disputes the importance of precision measuring equipment for shaft alignment, but the crucial role that shims play is often underestimated – treat and store shims properly in order to get the best outcome.
Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) were invented by NASA and formalised by them in 1989 by which time they were already in widespread use at the organisation. In the years that followed, this measurement system gained widespread acceptance and was adopted by the US Department of Defence, the EU and the ISO – and it is still used to this day.
One of the most common issues when doing alignments in an environment where other machines are operating nearby is that there may be high vibration from the adjacent equipment. In such cases (which happens often), it becomes nearly impossible to ascertain repeatability. However, a laser alignment tool can be used to achieve more accurate readings in situations of high vibration.
The development of laser alignment tools has dramatically transformed the way that people align and position machinery and industrial structures. These instruments enable measurement and alignment to be done faster and far more accurately than conventional alignment methods such as plumb-lines, dial gauges and line-of-sight where the quality of the results depend largely on the experience of the operator.
Industrial operations are losing huge sums of money because the centrelines of the shafts of their rotating equipment (such as pumps and motors) aren’t running on the same axis and are therefore misaligned – with some industry sources going as far as saying that shaft misalignment is to blame for up to 50% of all machine breakdowns.
Regardless of the type of measuring equipment you’re using, from laser alignment tools, dial indicators and straight-edges to feeler gauges or any other device, these three things will improve the accuracy and repeatability of your measurements.