All you need to know about shaft alignment

In machinery maintenance, shaft alignment is one of the most crucial processes. It impacts not only the efficiency but also the longevity of the equipment, which directly translates into cost optimization and profitability for the whole company.

Let’s explore this process and understand its importance, methods, and best practices.

Shaft Alignment

Why is shaft alignment so important for machinery maintenance?

In essence, proper shaft alignment ensures that the rotational centers of coupled shafts are precisely matched. Without this process, shafts can be misaligned in angular or parallel form, which results in:

  • increased vibration and noise, producing an uncomfortable working environment and potential damage to surrounding components,
  • bearing and seal wear and tear, leading to frequent replacements,
  • energy loss due to inefficient power transmission, causing higher energy consumption and increased operational costs,
  • premature equipment failure and reduced machinery lifespan.

Therefore, without appropriate alignment techniques implemented, companies risk having higher costs, a shorter lifespan of equipment, lower efficiency, less safety for their employees, and lower profitability.

What are the most common methods of shaft alignment?

In fact, there are multiple methods that can be used to achieve precise alignment of shafts, ranging from traditional techniques to advanced laser systems.

Among the traditional ones, there is, for example, the dial indicator method. It involves mounting indicators on the shaft and rotating them to measure displacement. Although it offers a certain level of accuracy, advanced-level systems offer more precision.

The laser techniques use laser beams to measure the exact position of the shafts and provide real-time data for adjustments. As a result, they automatically detect all kinds of misalignments with high precision, which makes them the most efficient solution for critical machinery.

What are the best practices for shaft alignment?

Implementing this process into machinery maintenance is already half the battle, but to ensure optimal results, the alignment process needs to follow certain rules, such as:

  • doing pre-alignment checks to ensure the foundation and baseplates are secure,
  • considering thermal growth, especially in high-temperature environments,
  • regular maintenance and monitoring to detect any misalignment early.
  • proper training to ensure that maintenance personnel are trained in alignment techniques and have access to the appropriate tools, especially when using advanced laser systems,
  • preparing detailed records of alignment activities and adjustments to track the machinery’s condition over time.

All in all, shaft alignment is a fundamental aspect of machinery maintenance that significantly impacts performance, efficiency, and longevity. By implementing accurate alignment methods and adhering to best practices, companies can prevent operational issues, reduce maintenance costs, and extend equipment life.

Lana Martinez is a freelance technical writer living in the Santa Clara. She's a gadget and tech geek who loves to write how-to articles about a wide range of topics. When she's not writing about technology, Lana loves watching and reading mysteries, cross stitching, and attending musical theatre. She's also an avid Doctor Who fan.