Doing correct machine alignment avoids costly breakdowns and unexpected downtime
Doing correct machine alignment avoids costly breakdowns and unexpected downtime

Reposted from EASY-LASER® blog

    Laser alignment can be done ten times faster and much more accurately compared than with dial gauges or straight edge methods (depending on the user’s skill). A dial setup will not measure down to 0.001 mm – but a laser can!
    A laser alignment system is quick to set up, easy to use and much more reliable than old technology. The latter often requires extensive experience and sometimes complicated calculations to be used. For example, fixtures for dial gauges always sag a little, which affects the accuracy of the gauge’s displayed value. This does not occur with laser alignment.
    With a laser alignment system it is possible to generate PDF reports directly from the instrument. The computer handles targets and tolerances and makes it is easy to interpret the results. The possibility of documenting the results gives better control over the machines and greater assurance. Reports can be generated for “before” and “after” alignment.
    For soft foot issues, regardless of what is going on at the feet, you get a true representation of the movement between the rotating axes of the shafts you are aligning. Dial readings only tell you what’s happening at the feet—not a true representation of soft foot!
    The speed of use and the precision in alignment mean that investing in a laser-based shaft alignment system usually pays for itself within 3-6 months.
    Laser alignment systems make the process of measurement and correction much more disciplined and repeatable. Straightedges and dial gauges are not sufficiently accurate for today’s modern machines. Using laser alignment always gives the same results regardless of who takes the measurements.
    You don’t have to be a specialist to get the correct result. With a wireless display unit, you can follow the machine movement with live values at the points where you adjust the machine, not just where the dial gauges are mounted.image2
    With the best laser alignment systems you can expand the types of alignments and measurements you can do. You will then be able to take care of all important steps of machine setup, for example base flatness and twist, and also measure straightness.
    With laser alignment it is possible to measure even with a small shaft rotation, for example only 70 degrees. This solves the problem when piping and machine parts are in the way preventing a greater rotation.
    Laser alignment allows precise measurements that reduce your energy consumption in the long term. Poorly aligned machines require more energy to achieve the same results than well-aligned ones. Reduced energy consumption is not only good for your electricity bill, but of course also for the environment.
    Old technology may have too low a resolution to measure accurately enough and may be subject to reading errors or sticking dial hands. Laser alignment systems are based on high-resolution non-contact technology and are free from such errors.
    With laser alignment you eliminate errors associated with old technologies such as bar sag, substandard dial bar and mistakes when installing up the indicator clamps.


by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Reposted from EASY-LASER® blog
Easy-Laser® has been awarded the iF DESIGN AWARD 2017 for their design of a display unit for laser-based measurement equipment.
The display unit, XT11, won the Industry/Skilled Trades category and is part of a completely new concept within laser alignment, which was launched last year.
Rustan Karlsson, Head of Marketing at Easy-Laser®, states: “The award is an acknowledgement of the hard work that we have put into our next generation of products to make them even more user-friendly and attractive, in a way that is right for our users and our brand. Within our industry, it is like winning an Oscar!”
He continues: “The work really started three years ago, when our design office, Shift Design & Strategy, identified what Easy-Laser® stands for and developed a design guide. Together with our own engineers, they defined what has now been acknowledged by the iF DESIGN AWARD. It feels great to have won it, especially with the product launches ahead of us.”
The iF DESIGN AWARD is one of the world’s most prestigious competitions. The entries are assessed by a jury of 58 professional designers from around the world. This year’s competition was tough, with over 5500 entries from 59 countries.
Learn more and download the brochure of the award-winning Easy-Laser® XT11 display unit featured in the XT440 shaft alignment system.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Reposted from EASY-LASER® blog
Engineering no doubt spends a lot of time deciding what machines should be specified and how best to set them up for optimal production. And you already know how important shaft alignment is. But there are other ways to make your machine perform even better and last longer. A careful base setup is key if you want to increase the machine’s lifespan and avoid unexpected downtime and other disturbances.
Why you should pay attention to the base setup?
Setting up the base properly is more important than many realize; it is crucial if you want to avoid unnecessary machine stress, and prevent costly problems in the long run.
First, the base has to be strong enough to support the weight of the machine. It also has to be able to withstand the large amount of torque and other loading that the machine produces. In addition, the base also needs to be flat and level.
An uneven or unleveled base can cause all kinds of issues for you: shaft misalignment, pipe strain, distorted machine frames (soft foot), etc. Even a small defect can have a significant negative consequences on production.
The machine base – A great investment!
A base that’s flat and level will increase the machine’s lifespan and will save you unexpected downtime with costly repairs. You will also benefit from increased production time and greater efficiency of the machine with reduced energy consumption.
EASY-LASER E720 Alignment/GEO system
Don’t just eyeball the base to see if it’s flat. Use a laser. You might already be familiar with shaft alignment lasers. In this case you need another kind of measuring tool, such as the Easy-Laser E720 system. The point laser will allow you to optimize both base flatness and shaft alignment. The Easy-Laser D22 (swiveling laser) will help you level the base. No other system on the market offers this type of flexibility.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

  • Right safety procedures before you align.
  • Right machines to align.
  • Right alignment procedure.
  • Right alignment tool.
  • Right alignment tolerances.
  • Right alignment targets.
  • Right soft analysis and correction.
  • Right shims.
  • Right moves.
  • Right bolt tightening sequence.
  • Right bolt torquing.
  • Right alignment report.
Download [Infographic] 5-Step Shaft Alignment Procedure

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Purchasing a condition monitoring tool is one step in your journey to implementing a reliability program. Proper training on how to use the new technology,  planning the work correctly,  ensuring the work is completed on schedule and done so correctly is critical to success. Just as important is understanding the risks associated with your equipment, especially when it fails. A criticality assessment along with failure modes and effects analysis will help you understand those risks and determine where to focus your maintenance activities.
I recently spoke to a plant engineer that had purchased alignment and vibration equipment from LUDECA. He had performed several alignments and collected baseline vibration data. The decision was made to start aligning machines that required maintenance and this was a wise choice to ensure failure modes were not inserted into equipment during routine maintenance activities. Unfortunately, this facility had not performed a criticality assessment on their machinery! It turns out that the plant had a catastrophic failure on a piece of equipment that was vital to the overall production processes of the plant. The first comment made was “why did we have this failure when we recently invested in alignment and vibration equipment?”
You must fully understand the risks to safety, production, environment, and profits that your equipment imposes on your facility. As you can see from the example above, not understanding these factors may lead to continued equipment failures and their undesired consequences. To ensure that you do not continue to experience maintenance failures requires that you fully comprehend the risks that each piece of equipment entails. Had this facility understood the failure modes and the (criticality/risk) impact each machine posed, they would have been able to focus their maintenance efforts where they were most needed to keep the plant efficiently operational.
As part of this endeavor, it is important to apply condition monitoring (vibration analysis and properly targeted alignment, among other things) on the equipment within your plant, because it is extremely difficult to be reliable without doing so. However, you must understand how and where to direct those efforts to ensure that unwanted risks are reduced. Understanding how your equipment can fail (FMEA), the consequences of those failures (RCM or risk assessment), what equipment is most important to keep your plant operational (criticality assessment) are all important to ensure that your maintenance efforts are properly focused. These efforts may avoid the experience this facility had and prevent your plant from experiencing the same unwanted effects.

by Frank Seidenthal CRL

Recently our customer,  Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD),  shared with us their successful findings with OPTALIGN SMART. Their Maintenance Department utilizes a variety of predictive technologies and preventive strategies to support their mission of improving equipment reliability and reducing downtime. They are committed to extending the life cycles of their assets with their already established laser alignment program.
Their recent analysis started when their Maintenance Crew Leader downloaded and interpreted the alignment test results. Planned scheduled follow-up work orders, baseline testing, realignment and retesting revealed that one of their pumps showed excessive shaft misalignment between the pump and motor in both the horizontal and vertical planes. As-found test results showed the equipment out of vertical alignment by 11.4 thousandths, and horizontal alignment off by 19.3 thousandths. Maintenance staff proceeded to generate a follow-up work order to realign the pump and motor.
Follow-up Actions:
Plant Maintenance Workers uncoupled and realigned the components, using jacking lugs and shims to correct the misalignment. After realignment work was completed, they installed a new coupling and performed follow-up retesting with the OPTALIGN SMART tool, verifying that the components had been aligned within required specifications.
They have now proven that equipment misalignment will cause mechanical seal failure and premature bearing wear, resulting in equipment failure and unexpected downtime. By testing and aligning equipment proactively, MSD Maintenance personnel were able to identify and correct misalignment problems before irreversible damage occured and assets would have had to be replaced. The total work order cost for testing and realigning this asset was $154.70. The purchase price of a new pump of this type is $2,456.00, resulting in a minimum cost avoidance of $2,301.30, not including labor costs to remove and reinstall the equipment.
Special thanks to our friends at Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati for sharing their success with us and reminding us once again that there are just No Excuses for Misalignment.

OPTALIGN SMART Graphical Coupling Results
Graphical test results from the OPTALIGN SMART laser alignment tool, showing the “as found” misalignment condition of the pump, and the “as left” condition after the components had been aligned correctly.


by Yolanda Lopez

solarWorld vehicleAs announced back in April and as a result of PRUFTECHNIK Alignment Systems’ sponsorship of the SolarCar project,  we are pleased to announce that they have made it to the finish line.  The solar-powered vehicle “SolarWorld GT” has returned to Bochum, Germany after its journey around the world making honor to their motto “PRUFTECHNIK keeps the world rotating’”.

The SHAFTALIGN tool donated to University of Bochum was used to enable optimal alignment of the test bench for the wheel hub motors used in the SolarWorld GT.  They were able to maximize the efficiency of the drive system for the solar vehicle, 29,710 km – on 177 days of driving – that was the reading on the odometer at the end of the trip around the world.

Once again, we salute PRUFTECHNIK, our principals, for supporting electromobility and demonstrating the achievements of their tools. Taking pride on the equipment they develop has definitely paid of.

by Yolanda Lopez

Laser shaft alignment has become ubiquitous these days. And for the most part,  alignments are very similar from one machine train to another. User enters the RPM for tolerance evaluation, enters dimensions of the driver, measures misalignment, and makes corrections. But what happens when an unusual physical configuration exists, as when the foot of the machine is between the flex planes of the coupling? Or the receiver cannot be mounted outboard of the flex planes of such coupling?
Entering a dimension correctly as a negative value can take care of that problem. This will ensure that the corrections at the feet are precise, and the alignment is done properly.

Sample negative dimension with ROTALIGN ULTRA

Does your laser alignment system have this crucial capability? Our ROTALIGN ULTRA laser alignment system does!

by Adam Stredel CRL

By Daus Studenberg – Applications Engineer

In my spare time,  I enjoy the hobbies of building bicycles and metal working.  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 had 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,” “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 of 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, tv’s, 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 means 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 to document the results.  Doing so will help you accomplish the main goal – improving the reliability of your plant and thereby save time and money.

by Daus Studenberg CRL

We are pleased to announce that PRUEFTECHNIK Alignment Systems —LUDECA’s principals— is an official sponsor of the SolarCar project conducted by the Bochum University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

Our shaft alignment system, SHAFTALIGN, is the shinning star of this project. PRUEFTECHNIK is supporting the SolarCar team with this system, which they are using to align the test rig for the development and optimization of the SolarWorld GT engines. Every tenth of a percent increase in the degree of efficiency is important to this project. Click here to learn more about this project.
We salute PRUEFTECHNIK for supporting alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar power.

by Yolanda Lopez

TransAlta from Alberta, Canada won Uptime Magazine’s Best Vibration Analysis Program. Their Vibration Journey started when due to distance and the high costs of using a contractor, they moved away from outsourcing their vibration analysis services to a full time in-house vibration analyst.
During the implementation and mentoring period, and in spite of the business justification, they faced challenges like skepticism from the maintenance department and having to continually justify their existence. Buying and implementing new technology was easy but changing the culture was difficult. Some of it was overcome with their ability to be 100% correct on the calls they made for failures although at the beginning they did not catch all the failures. 10 years after their vibration program started, there are no more skeptics.
An important element of their success was the implementation of a training and certification program with a budget that allowed for 2 weeks of training per year per analyst. They also required that personnel take CMVA Level 1 (Canadian Machinery Vibration Association) or equivalent followed by Level 2 after 18 months and Level 3 within four years on the job.
Aside from bringing Vibration Analysis in-house, they also implemented other in-house programs such as Laser Alignment, Balancing, Ultrasound, Lubrication and Thermography.
What did they accomplish? Savings of US$ 4,000,000 per year for their company over 1,600 pieces of equipment at 3 separate plants.
When first asked about their program, Mark Kumar told Terry O’Hanlon, publisher of Uptime Magazine, that their Best Asset was their vibration database (history) which allowed them to diagnose failures but now in retrospect he stated that their Best Asset was the Backing of Company Management which supported their initiative for an in-house vibration program.
Congratulations to Harvey Henkel, Mark Kumar and their team for this award and a job well done.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Every asset-intensive organization understands that the greater the uptime of machines, the more efficient and cost effective operations will be. Keeping your assets in optimal working order is easier and more cost efficient when advanced technology such as laser shaft alignment is used to increase machine reliability.
The Machine Maintenance Goal
One of the goals of every production oriented operation is to keep their machines operating at the lowest cost yet highest productivity levels. In order to do so, proper maintenance must be performed on machines. The level of maintenance care of machines can be broken down into four major categories:

  1. Purely reactive or run to failure
  2. Basic preventive maintenance and inspections
  3. Combination of predictive maintenance methodologies and preventive maintenance
  4. Organizations making use of preventive and predictive maintenance as well as advanced technologies such as laser shaft alignment, vibration analysis, infrared thermography etc.

At the heart of most good maintenance operations is a CMMS system that records and tracks all asset detail and maintenance work information. The premise of a CMMS is that the more asset and historical work information you have, the more efficient and effective your maintenance planning will be.
Why Shaft Alignment Technology is Necessary
A natural extension to using a CMMS is the use of advanced shaft alignment technology because it adds valuable information regarding the condition of the machines that might otherwise go undetected until machine failure occurs.
Typical signs of misalignment include:

  • Abnormally hot components, smell of burning insulation
  • Bearing issues or grinding noises
  • Higher energy usage
  • Load imbalances
  • Rotor bar problems
  • Excessive vibration

One proven method for machinery alignment is laser shaft alignment. With up to 50% of damage to rotating machinery directly related to misalignment, correcting this problem in machines is critical to production as well as operating budgets. But these are not the only reasons:
Top 7 Reasons to use Laser Shaft Alignment
Laser shaft alignment can lower your operating costs through:

  1. Early identification of problems enabling machine maintenance to be proactive.
  2. Reduced maintenance cost as a result of sharp reductions in bearing, seal, shaft and coupling failures.
  3. Reduced vibration lengthening the useful lifecycle of the machine as well as increasing quality of output.
  4. Less unplanned downtime so production can be optimized.
  5. Fewer emergency repairs lowering labor costs.
  6. Error-free and accurate measurements to 0.0001″.
  7. Reduced energy consumption. Poorly aligned machines require more energy to achieve the same results as a well aligned asset.

Who Can Benefit from Laser Shaft Alignment
Laser shaft alignment can be used in any industry ranging from manufacturing to the wind power industry that depends on machinery to function. Machinery alignment is a cost effective solution whenever critical functions are at risk. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Processing and centrifugal pumps used by the petrochemical industry
  • Boiler feed pumps found in every power plant and also in general industry
  • Vertical turbine pumps found at water treatment plants
  • Refrigeration compressors used for food processing and cold storage

Why laser shaft alignmentProtecting your machines through precision shaft alignment is not an option, it is a must in today’s competitive environment. Old dial indicator technology may have too low a resolution to measure accurately enough, and are subject to reading errors and hysteresis or sticking dial hands. On the other hand, laser shaft alignment is error free with reports generated directly from the instrument in conformity with ISO 9001 requirements.
“7 Reasons Why Machines Need Laser Shaft Alignment” was written for us by Stuart Smith, MBA, MS. He is an avid writer about CMMS and EAM software solutions for Mintek Mobile Data Solutions. Stuart has over 25 years experience running operations in multiple industries.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Have you ever been forced to check for soft foot when your brackets were less than 10 inches apart and the MTBM’s supports were several feet distant? If you answer yes to that question or if you have ever made foot corrections under similar circumstances, then resolution matters to you.
Resolution: The smallest detectable increment of measurement.
Synonyms: sensitivity, fineness
For laser shaft alignment systems mounted on a pair of shafts, resolution is the smallest movement between the two shafts that the electronics can detect. On all systems LUDECA sells, this value is 1 micron (.00004″) or better. Typically, for any measurement system to be accurate, it must have a resolution at least four times better than the minimum increment of value it is designed to display, and for a “precision” measurement instrument, this ratio should be ten times or better.
Linearity: The closeness of a calibration curve to a straight line. Having output directly proportional to input.
Synonyms: Straightness, direct proportion.
For a laser shaft alignment system, linearity is easy to evaluate. A graph of the known position versus the displayed value should be a straight line. If it is, we say the system is linear. Our products are linear to one percent.
Repeatability: The ability of an instrument to reproduce displayed values when the same input is applied to it consecutively under the same conditions. Repeatability is expressed as the difference between two or more sets of measured values when given identical input positions of the sensor(s).
Reproducibility: The ability of the experimenter (user) to reproduce or duplicate the conditions of an experiment or measurement.  Reproducibility and Repeatability are not the same, but Repeatability (of measurement results) depends on Reproducibility. For instance, if the anchor bolts are loose and the machine moves on you as you are turning the shafts to take alignment readings, your readings will not be repeatable, although they may be accurate for the conditions extant at each reading.
Accuracy: The ratio of the error in a measurement to the ideal, or expected, value. How close a result is to the true value of the parameter being measured.
Synonyms: deviation, error, how close a value is to being correct or true.
Accuracy is how close a measuring system comes to measuring the truth. For specific measurements or specifications, the term error is used and is expressed either as a percent of full scale or as an absolute value. Accuracy is adversely affected by non-linearity, non-repeatability, poor reproducibility and poor resolution.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

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

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Several points should be checked prior to laser shaft alignment in order to avoid problems later and to achieve good results:

  • Foundation: A solid, rigid foundation is essential for a successful alignment.
  • Machine Mobility: It is advisable to set both machines with about 80 mils of shims underneath the feet in case one machine needs to be lowered. Also, jacking bolts provide a safer and more accurate way to make horizontal moves.
  • Rigid Couplings: Must be loosened to achieve accurate readings.
  • Coupling Play: This can be avoided by turning the shafts a few degrees before starting measurements and then taking readings in the same direction.
  • Bearing Play: Check for excessive bearing play.
  • Soft Foot: Check for and correct soft foot before performing final alignment.

Watch our Webinar: Laser Shaft Alignment: Repeatability and Accuracy issues. Troubleshooting your readings.
Soft foot can severely affect the operating condition of a machine, and will undoubtedly shorten its life expectancy. Here are a few simple tips to help avoid soft foot in your machines:

  • Eliminate rust, dirt and any other contamination from the contact surfaces of the machine feet, shims or foundation.
  • Avoid using more than four shims at a time under the machine foot. More than three shims can cause a spring effect.
  • Eliminate undue external forces on the machine frame such as those from connected piping, conduit, auxiliary supports, etc.
  • Use high quality, clean and uniform shims when shimming is necessary.

Watch  our Webinar: Soft Foot

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL