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Laser Shaft Alignment

Alignment of machines has been performed for over 200 years.

The reasons have not always been obvious, but in the modern world the necessity of alignment is common knowledge. With today’s optimized machinery, alignment is a vital part in the daily maintenance work. Machines need to be online continuously with a minimum of interruptions.

A machine breakdown causes devastating loss of production. Nearly 50% of all machine breakdowns are caused by misalignment. Shaft alignment can be performed with different tools. The easiest way is to use a ruler or a straight edge over the two coupling halves and align by eyesight. The result is not very accurate and it is very operator dependent. A better result can be achieved by the use of mechanical dial indicators. A skilled and experienced operator can obtain good and reliable measurements, but it takes
time and patience and continuous practice with calibrated equipment.

NDE Clarke Pitchline offers nation wide laser shaft alignment services for an extensive range of applications and industries. From one off alignment of gearbox and motor shafts, to entire production line set ups, NDE can offer exceptionally high levels of accuracy, professional certification and affordable laser shaft alignment services in the UK backed up by it’s 42 year expertise in mechanical drive line engineering.

laser shaft alignment


Definition of misalignment

Misalignment is the deviation of relative shaft position from collinear axis of rotation when
equipment is running at normal operating conditions.

How is misalignment recognized?
There are several symptoms indicating misalignment. By keeping your eyes open you can find them without any special equipment.

• Premature bearing, seal, shaft and coupling failure
• Excessive radial and axial vibrations
• High casing temperature at or near the bearings or high discharge oil temperature
• Excessive amount of oil leakage at the bearing seals
• The coupling is hot while it is running and immediately after unit shutdown. Look for rubber powder inside the coupling shroud
• Loose foundation bolts
• Loose or broken coupling bolts
• Excessive amount of grease on the inside of coupling guard
• Similar pieces of equipment are vibrating less or seem to have longer operating life
• The shafts are breaking (or cracking) at or close to the inboard bearings or coupling hubs

Effects of base conditions and thermal variations

Even if you align your machines properly there is a risk that they break due to misalignment. If the foundation
where the machine is mounted is warped you may have a soft foot condition, i.e. one of the machine feet has a poor contact with the floor. It is of major importance that this is corrected before performing the alignment. If the alignment is performed when the machines are cold, and no compensation for thermal growth is considered, the machines will probably be running severely misaligned at running temperature.

Misalignment and power consumption

coupling laser shaft alignment infographic

Energy Loss In Coupling Mis-alignment

Misalignment has a direct impact on the power consumption. Documented cases have shown savings ranging from 2 to 17%. The thermogram below shows two
different couplings and the amount of heat generated due to misalignment.

Benefits of Laser Shaft Alignment

The benefits of laser shaft alignment are numerous and include:

Efficiency gains
Performance increases
Safety improvements
Cost management improvements
Total cost of ownership reductions
Preventative maintenance optimisation