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Laser Alignment of Shafts Reduces Wear and Tear on Equipment

Any heating, cooling, or pump equipment in your building requires shaft alignment at the time of its installation and at regular intervals. Laser alignment is the most cost effective method, as precision alignment can significantly reduce energy consumption and will optimize the operational life of your machinery and its parts.

laser alignment for shafts
Laser shaft alignment system.

Failure to align shafts properly increases stress on your machinery, resulting in a host of problems which can impact your company’s bottom line:

  • Increased friction leading to excessive wear on parts, wasted energy, and premature breakdown of equipment
  • Excessive wear and premature failure of bearings and seals
  • Premature shaft and coupling failure
  • Failure of coupling and foundation bolts
  • Increased vibration and noise

Shaft misalignment is the leading cause of bearing failure, seals, and couplings long before they reach their life expectancy. A motor is the most likely component to fail from misalignment and when it does, secondary damage may appear in associated equipment such as pumps, fans and compressors. This failure can increase costs 10X.

For instance, here is a typical pattern of repair:

Motor repair + bearing replacement + seal replacement + coupling replacement + damage to the machine + reinstallation + cost of machine downtime + cost of damaged products + maintenance staff time and attention = $$?

From this example alone we can see that the cost of laser precision alignment at the time of installation, and at regular service intervals, more than pays for itself if it avoids just one failure of this magnitude.

According to a report published in the Journal of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI)“precision alignment resulted in extending bearing life by a factor of eight in a large class of rotating machines. Other reported benefits were a seven percent savings in overall maintenance costs and a twelve percent increase in machine availability. Machine breakdowns attributed to misalignment were cut in half.”

How much energy can I save with precision laser alignment?

We realize that it all comes down to dollars and cents, so let’s use a hypothetical case study to show the effectiveness of laser alignment in reducing industrial energy costs:

A client had a shaft in a cooling tower that was grossly misaligned, drawing 174 amps. After we aligned the shaft, we measured the current draw, which had dropped to 155 amps – a reduction of roughly 11%. This saved the customer 78,735kWh per year, for an energy cost savings of $5,500.00 (at their current rate of .07 per kWh).  This savings was sufficient to justify the cost of Chadwick’s laser alignment services.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that half of all machine breakdowns can be directly attributed to misaligned shafts.

Flexible couplings are certainly designed to tolerate a certain amount of misalignment, but the load imposed on shafts and consequently bearings and seals, increases dramatically due to reaction forces within the coupling.

Seal wear increases when shafts are misaligned, substantially reducing their life. In addition to the damage imposed on the bearings through the misalignment itself, when mechanical seals fail, bearings have to be removed from the shaft assembly and in most cases replaced. Seals do not tolerate operation in a poorly aligned condition, becoming quickly damaged. They sometimes fail catastrophically without warning leading to plant downtime and high replacement costs.

Laser precision alignment also reduces excessive vibration. High vibration leads to fatigue of machine components, poor product quality and to premature machine failure.

So when was the last time you had the shafts in your equipment aligned? Call us today and ask about our laser alignment services.

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