What Is Laser alignment?
One of the most powerful tools in condition monitoring is laser alignment. After all, there is nothing straighter than a beam of light, so lasers are by far the best way of monitoring and testing the alignment of machine parts. They are now invaluable in detecting even the smallest misalignment of components that could lead to later catastrophic breakdowns, even complete machine failure.
As a machine is designed for components, especially shafts, to run in prefect alignment, any slight deviation will lead to imbalance and increase pressure where it is not wanted – on seals, bearings, drives and other shafts. Lasers, either through mobile equipment brought in by maintenance engineers or built in as a monitoring component of the equipment, ensures constant perfect alignment of shafts for efficient production.
This technology allows precision alignment to within less than 1/100th of a millimetre, which is vital for smooth running, We live in a world of three dimensions, but we want a shaft to operate in just one direction. Any movement horizontally or vertically will lead to a halt in production at best. Misalignment can be detected through vibration analysis, of course, but modern laser tools are also helpful in predicting possible future breakdowns. The ability of these measurement tools to detect unbelievably small misalignments saves manufacturers a fortune.
Prevention is better than cure, but this maxim increases in relevance as tolerances become smaller or lower. So, laser alignment will, in the first instance, save down time and subsequent loss of production. Misalignment, even small enough to allow the machine to keep running smoothly, can still have a detrimental effects on other parts of the machine that a misaligned shaft comes into contact with, leading to increased energy consumption, excessive wear and greater friction.
It is likely that smaller components, such as bearings and seals, will fail as a result of this increased wear. Although they are smaller and less important that a laser-aligned shaft, every part of the machine must stay working in harmony, so it is vital that shafts are continually aligned to perfection.