Alignment of machines has been performed for over 200 years. The reasons have not always been obvious but, in the modern world, the necessity of alignment is common knowledge. With today's optimized machinery, alignment is a vital part of minimizing daily interruptions. A machine breakdown causes devastating loss of production. Nearly 50% of all machine breakdowns are caused by misalignment.
Shaft alignment can be performed with a lot of different tools. The easiest way is to use a ruler or straight edge over the two coupling halves and align them through eyesight. However, the result from that is not very accurate and depends on the operator. Mechanical dial indicators are much more accurate and a skilled user can achieve good and reliable results, but it does take time.
By far the most accurate and efficient system is the use of modern laser technology. Easy to understand printed alignment reports are available for record-keeping purposes.
Even if you align your machines properly, there is a risk that they may break due to misalignment. If the foundation where the machine is mounted is warped, you may have a soft floor or soft foot condition where one of the machine’s feet has poor contact with the floor. This must be corrected when performing an alignment.
If the alignment is performed when the machines are cold and no compensation for thermal growth is considered, it is likely that severe misalignment will occur at running temperature.
Our new laser alignment technology factors in both soft foot and thermal growth conditions.
Misalignment is the deviation of the relative shaft position from the collinear axis of rotation when equipment is running at normal operating conditions.
There are many issues that occur due to misalignment, such as:
Seal, shaft, and coupling failure.
Excessive radial and axial vibrations.
Excessive temperature at or near the bearings.
Excessive amount of oil leakage.
Loose or broken foundation/coupling bolts.
Excessive amount of grease on the inside of coupling guard.
Similar equipment vibrates less or seems to have a longer life.
Breaking (or cracking) of shafts close to the inboard bearings or coupling hubs.
Misalignment has a direct impact on power consumption. Documented cases have shown savings ranging from 2-17% with proper alignment.
The operating life span of bearings is directly affected by the forces that the bearing is exposed to. The slightest misalignment can generate excessive force to the bearings and their seals. A result of this will be the seals opening up, which will allow lubricant leakage and contaminants to enter into the lubricating side. Bearing life will be shortened.
Mechanical seals and packing life can also be shortened by misalignment. Excessive shaft movement causes premature wear on seal components such as O-rings, stators, faces, and packing. Leakage may also occur.