In my spare time,  I enjoy the hobbies of building bicycles and metalworking.  There is something about making things from scratch that satisfies both the kid and engineer in me.

I recently sold a hobby class CNC machine that I purchased about a year ago.  It was a capable machine for what it did and the price was MUCH less than the typical Vertical Machine Center (VMC) that you would see in a machine shop.  Unfortunately, it didn’t do exactly what I needed.  I learned through further education that my machine “should have this capability, must be able to do that, etc.”  I also found out that much of the manufacturer’s verbiage such as “step resolution,” “precision,” “computer-controlled,” “complete solution,” and “high quality” was bandied about so much that one would wonder why a machine shop would pay so much more for a quality CNC VMC. Upon talking to other users, I learned more about its shortcomings and what they eventually did: they were now educated and instead invested in machines that actually did what they needed for their applications and delivered on the manufacturer’s promises.  Haven’t we all experienced this same situation before when buying cars, TVs, appliances, cell phones, etc.?

Unfortunately, this situation is not isolated to CNC machines and consumer products but extends to all sorts of products – even laser shaft alignment systems.  If you make an internet search for laser shaft alignment tools, terms such as “.0001 resolution, laser, high precision, easiest, 3000 points, 60-degree turn, single correction alignments, etc.” are thrown about on websites and it is unfortunate that customers must sort through this and hope they find a laser alignment tool that will truly satisfy the requirements of their reliability program.

How can you make the right decision in buying a laser alignment product?  For starters, inform yourself through reliable sources.  I would encourage you to talk to other users and get their experiences with the tools.  These are people that use shaft alignment for their reliability program.  Maybe they have purchased a variety of tools before settling on the right tool that works.  Let their experience help save you time in searching for the right product.

I would also encourage you to contact your vendor and ask for a demonstration.  Everyone claims to have the best product, but the real proof is that the tool actually works for your reliability program.  For example, if you contact us, we have knowledgeable local representatives and an onsite dedicated engineering staff who will gladly visit your facility and answer any questions you may have.  We have represented Prüftechnik (the inventors of laser shaft alignment) for 30 years and many of our reps have represented our products for over 25 years.  All those years mean that we have the experience, references, and reputation to provide you with the information and resources to make an informed decision.

Buying a laser alignment tool is essential to your reliability program.  Its ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of time to do alignments, do them more accurately, and document the results.  Doing so will help you accomplish the main goal – improving the reliability of your plant and thereby saving time and money.

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by Daus Studenberg CRL