|Lovejoy Disc Coupling being Laser Shaft Aligned|
As discussed in prior posts, shaft misalignment is one the major causes of premature coupling, bearing, and seal failures in a power transmission system. Even while staying within the misalignment limits of a flexible coupling, it is still advisable to keep misalignment to a minimum.
While dial indicators offer an excellent shaft alignment solution for many applications, for those looking for a best in class solution, laser shaft alignment tools are available. (Note: Lovejoy does not sell laser alignment tools, but we do sell a dial indicator kit.)
A major advantage of laser alignment tools is their accuracy. Unlike some dial indicators, there is no bar sag that needs to be measured and accounted for. Readings are also very precise.
A second major advantage of most laser shaft alignment tools is that they come with a computer system that automatically calculated what adjustments are needed and records measured values (which maintenance crews can use both to verify proper installation and watch for trends or changes in equipment movement). Dial indicators generally require hand calculations and adjustments (assuming you don't use the Lovejoy Dials free new smartphone app).
A third major advantage of laser alignment tools is that they can be spread fairly far apart, which is very useful when working on two sides of a long spacer type coupling.
Countering these three strong advantages of laser alignment tools is primarily cost. Dial indicators are generally much less expensive upfront and they are arguably more robust. (Laser alignment tools are electronics, and they also generally call for periodic recalibration of the lasers.)
If you've got a large maintenance budget and reliability is absolutely king (any downtime means big bucks), a high quality laser alignment tool is a wonderful tool to have in the toolbox. For those currently using dial indicators without the budget to throw down on a laser alignment system, the free Lovejoy Dials app will help provide some of the automated calculation benefits of using laser tool. For those not doing shaft alignment at all, for the longevity and reliability of your equipment, we highly recommend that you start now.