Laser alignment: How does it work?

It’s a well known fact that most rotating equipment failures happen due to misalignment of shafts and pulleys. So, when it comes to maintenance, it’s important to remember that laser alignment services are vital for maximising the useful life of your machinery. 

Regularly carrying out preventative laser alignment allows you to minimise breakdowns due to premature seal and bearing failure – and to get rid of excessive vibrations and noise.

Since 2002, Marley Flow Control has been an industry leader in the manufacturing of cooling towers – and a leading provider of laser alignment services. We are an Australian owned and operated brand with a wealth of knowledge that has allowed us to work with some of the country’s largest businesses and corporations we are pleased to call our clients.

As industry leaders, we have a high level of expertise and can provide a wide range of services – including laser alignment services and cooling tower services. If you need any laser shaft and coupling alignment services for your equipment, contact our highly experienced team to discuss your options today.

So, how exactly does laser alignment work – and what are its main uses?

What is laser shaft alignment?

Laser shaft alignment ensures that shafts in your machinery are properly aligned – i.e. straight, both horizontally and vertically. This is done by using a laser to perform measurements between two connected shafts. 

First, a sensor is placed on each of the shafts. Then, both of the sensors fire a laser beam while also simultaneously receiving the beam fired by the other sensor.  After that, a comparison of the beams reveals whether shafts are aligned properly. The results of the measurements then appear on a display unit so the analysis – and any correction needed – can be performed.

Laser alignment technology VS Traditional alignment tools

Laser-based technology has a number of distinct advantages over more traditional alignment tools. Some of the advantages are quite obvious, while others have become possible only due to the latest technological advances.

So, why should you choose laser alignment over more traditional alignment tools such as straight edge, optics or dial indicators?

Fast, accurate, reliable measurements

Often, rulers and dial gauges just can’t be used for today’s modern machinery – the old technology is simply not accurate enough. This is where laser alignment comes incredibly handy!

Lasers are not affected by gravity – a great advantage when it comes to measurement. Laser alignment is extremely fast and accurate. When done by an expert, it can easily be performed up to ten times faster while being much more accurate than dial gauges or straight edge methods. A laser can measure down to 0.001 mm – something that your average dial setup just cannot do.

Laser alignment technology makes it possible to work around the common issue of piping and equipment parts getting in the way, as it allows measurements to be taken even with a small shaft rotation of just about 40 degrees.

High efficiency and increased range of measurements

The most advanced laser alignment tools can deliver much more than your basic alignments and measurements. Many important steps of machine setup – like base flatness, twist, and straightness – can also be taken care of, which is extremely convenient. You can also detect possible additional weaknesses – such as weak foundations that can potentially cause equipment damage due to vibrations.

Advanced laser shaft test systems can rotate, which allows them to compensate for coupling anomalies – and even to simultaneously measure multiple pieces of equipment! 

Significantly reduced potential for errors

Older, more traditional alignment technologies are often plagued by errors such as bar sag, incorrect clamp set up, or substandard dial bar. The measurements can also be affected by sticking dial hands and reading errors. And – the resolution can be simply too low to take measurements that are accurate enough.

The more advanced, high resolution, non-contact laser technology completely eliminates such errors.

Energy saving and environmentally friendly 

The exact measurements that laser alignment delivers allow your machinery to operate more efficiently – and, as a result, cuts your energy consumption over time. This results in lower electricity bills – all while being good for the environment.

Greater variety of possible uses

Laser alignment technology can be used for advanced tasks such as precise shaft alignment that often have to be carried out in challenging conditions. For example, we at Marley Flow Control have successfully aligned shafts as long as 4.5 meters.

However, no job is too big or too small for this precise and versatile technology that is also routinely used for simpler tasks – such as laser pump alignment or laser alignment of engines.

How often should laser alignment be performed?

We always recommend that our clients set up a regular preventative monitoring and maintenance program, as having one in place always pays off in the long run. 

Our experts will be happy to evaluate your needs and suggest a schedule that is best tailored to your circumstances.

We offer a wide range of laser alignment services

As a trusted Australian owned and operated brand, Marley Flow Control offers a high level of expertise combined with an impressive range of products. We perform a wide range of laser alignment services, as well as cooling tower services. After completing a laser alignment, our team will provide you with a comprehensive report showing the change in alignment achieved as a result of our service.

Our experienced team has successfully carried out long laser alignments of up to four metres.  We also have the skills and equipment to fit new motors, driveshafts, gearboxes and fans in the field.

Find out how we can use our engineering experience to help find the right solution for your business needs. Contact us here for a free quote.