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Problem: Our boiler feed water pump running on steam turbine kept failing numerous mechanical seals since 2006, and gave us very poor reliability. Due to the unreliable nature of the steam turbine, we had to keep running our electric boiler feed water pump as a primary pump. This cost us $$$ in terms of energy usage, as we were not able to use steam generated by our boiler to power the steam turbine pump.

Solutia Laser Shaft Alignment
Photo courtesy of Solutia.

Solution: In February 2010, we ordered a new rotating assembly for the steam turbine pump and installed it. We also purchased a new laser shaft alignment system “OPTALIGN SMART”. We had stopped laser aligning our equipment for the last couple of years due to the old laser alignment system not being calibrated and not being very user friendly. After seeing a hands-on demonstration of the OPTALIGN SMART, our skilled trade group was convinced that we needed this new user friendly system for laser shaft alignments.Upon laser aligning the steam turbine, we found that we were way off in both Horizontal and Vertical alignment. Using the OPTALIGN SMART, we were able to achieve a much better alignment than we ever did. We did not get the “smiley” faces on our alignment, but that was due to having tremendous amount of pipe strain, poor base condition and being bolt-bound. However, our steam turbine has been running smoothly without any issues since February 2010. According to some operators, the steam turbine has never run this quiet and long in the past.We have started using the OPTALIGN SMART laser shaft alignment tool on all our rotating equipment, and already seen some really good results and overall cost savings in maintenance labor and materials.
Nihal Raval
Maintenance/Reliability Engineer
SOLUTIA

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by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL