Avoiding rotating machinery failure

Amy Hodgetts. Credit: Mediaworks

Misalignment in electric machinery is a serious problem for businesses that rely on speed and efficiency to meet the demands of consumers. Vibration, noise, and temperature increase the risk of bearing, coupling, and shaft failure, and considering that misalignment in rotating machinery can bring down a machine’s lifespan and cause up to 50% of all costs relating to rotating machinery breakdowns, fixing the issue is critical.

Misalignment in electric rotating machines is not always the same and knowing the definition of this issue from a technical perspective will help you establish how damaging the problem can be. The position of the centrelines of the shafts will determine the shaft alignment, so when shafts are correctly aligned, they run along a centreline. However, there are two types of misalignment that cause issues for rotating machines: angular and parallel misalignment.

  • Angular misalignment: the motor and the driven equipment are cock-eyed, so the centrelines cross
  • Parallel misalignment: the two shaft centrelines are fine but not in the same line towing to the offset on the plane.
  • Combination misalignment is when angular and parallel misalignments occur, which understandably requires more care and attention when it comes to fixing the problem.

Those who specialise in electric motor repair can use a range of tools when assessing and fixing misalignments in machinery, such as straight dial indicators, edges, and callipers that can all recognise inconsistencies in alignment. So, how do you fix misalignments?

Laser alignment offers the opportunity for incredible accuracy and precision when it comes to fixing misaligned machines. Unlike other methods, laser alignment is not affected by gravity or any kind of sag in the equipment, which can often lead to inaccurate measurements, nor is human error as likely. The system can measure from various positions to find the true rotational centre line, eliminating the effects of runout, where the shaft or coupling deviates from true circular rotation.

“For us, laser alignment is the obvious choice, providing pin-point accuracy and a smarter way to record and store data. We regularly carry out our laser alignment services for customers in a range of industries. This provides reassurance to the customer and reduces their costs in the long run by decreasing the risk of machine failure due to misalignment,” said Mark Convery, sales representative at Houghton International.

The benefits from a data standpoint is another reason laser alignment is a favoured choice. With laser alignment, exporting and storing information can help enhance workflow and record keeping. Plus, you get the benefit of wireless connectivity – handy if you work remotely. Laser alignment software can automatically perform calculations and produce automatic reports. Some systems are able to measure and calculate changes needed to correct alignment issues, such as soft foot. Laser alignment systems can also offer a live view mode to help determine when alignment correction is attained.

Ensuring that your machinery’s shaft alignment is correct boosts productivity while bringing down losses in reduced production. So, what are you doing to ensure your machines avoid the negative effects of misalignment?