A few months ago, while teaching a shaft alignment training class, a customer asked if we could take a look at a machine that the maintenance group was having trouble assembling.
Don’t laugh! If you’ve been in maintenance for very long, you’ve probably done the same thing–or worse!
Sometimes, when performing troubleshooting as a part of shaft alignment, we miss some obvious clues. Things such as:
- Shims stacks that are loose. A good sign of soft foot, a loose bolt or both.
- Obvious coupling wear, such as that pile of bright orange dust underneath a bright orange coupling. There is really no good reason to align a worn coupling insert–replace it first.
- Loose coupling hubs. Look for loose bolts, missing keys or an undercut shaft diameter.
- Loose bolts in the baseplate or frame. This can be a cause of vibration, alignment discrepancies, wear, etc.
- Pipe hangers, saddles, or stiff legs that aren’t supporting the weight of the piping.
- Too much, or too little lubrication.
- And yes, assembly errors.
VibrAlign sells some excellent alignment tools, but the two best alignment tools are your eyes and your brain. And the one quality that separates a mediocre “aligner” from an excellent “aligner” is the ability to troubleshoot.
Don’t forget the obvious.