Get in line: How to ace alignment issues in your plant

When rotating equipment is off-balance, your plant can be knocked offline. That's why precise machinery alignment is critical.

By Plant Services

No one runs misaligned machinery on purpose, of course. But problems occur when we don’t know, so how do we detect when there are issues?

“If increased vibration levels or noise are noticed or premature coupling, bearing, or seal failures are experienced, it’s a pretty safe bet that you have a shaft alignment problem,” says Alan Luedeking, vice president of Ludeca.

“In some cases, declining product quality can be an indicator. The best way to check, once the machines are down, is to put a laser shaft alignment system on and take a set of readings. With a good one, this will take less than three minutes from setup to results, after all safety lockout/tagout procedures have been observed and the coupling guard has been removed.” 

If you have coupled machines, you will have alignment problems, declares Stan Riddle, trainer/technical support team at VibrAlign (www.vibralign.com). “The trick is to catch them early and minimize them,” he says. “The markers I always use to determine alignment problems are vibration analysis, frequent seal and coupling insert replacement, and information from machine operators.” 

Robert X. Perez, author of “Is My Machine OK?” indicates high vibration levels that show up either axially or radially at the coupling end of a machine also can be indications of an alignment problem.

For more, check out Plant Services' new alignment ebook. You'll learn the most effective ways to detect misalignment; find best practices for aligning shafts and pulleys; and discover new tools designed to help you keep everything straight (literally). Download the eBook now.
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