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Laser alignment tools for belts and shafts are easy to set up

19 September, 2016

NSK has announced a pair of laser-based systems for aligning belts and shafts which, it says, are easy to set up, even over long distances. The tools have been developed in response to the fact that more than half of machines run out-of-alignment, causing higher loadings than necessary, and reducing performance.

Misaligned pulleys in belt drives can result in forces being applied to machinery that can lead to increased wear and vibration and to premature bearing failures, incurring costly downtime.

The belt-alignment devices found on many low-cost systems measure from the pulley side-face. According to NSK, this approach has limitations because it assumes that the pulley side is clean, rust-free and parallel to the pulley V-grooves. As a result, this method often does not always produce accurate alignments.

NSK’s Lab-Set laser system mounts in the actual pulley V-grooves where the belt runs, thus ensuring perfect alignment. Unlike other systems that rely on a single laser or mirror system which is difficult to set up and use, the new system is based on a pair of line laser transmitters (with integrated targets), each equipped with spring-loaded guides that fit into the pulley grooves. Using a pair of lasers, high resolution can be achieved, allowing even the smallest of misalignments to be identified easily. Parallel offset, angular error and twist are instantly visible to the operator.

According to NSK, the benefits of true belt alignment include extended bearing lives and the elimination of the forces associated with misalignment. In addition, wear on the drivetrain is reduced, while the reduced friction increases operating efficiencies.

The company adds that its system for aligning shafts offers similar attractions. Achieving shaft alignment on a co-linear axis is a complex task that needs allowance to be made for factors such as bar sag. Traditionally, this is performed using dial-test indicators, but it is considered a black art that can be performed only by skilled and experienced technicians.

NSK's belt alignment system is said to extend bearing lives and to reduce wear on drivetrains

By contrast, NSK’s new Las-Set system uses dual lasers for easy set-ups, even over long distances, and high-resolution digital sensors for precise results. A display provides an intuitive, icon-based, step-by-step guide, making the alignment process quick and easy.

The system performs live measurements while adjustments are being made, checking for offsets and angular misalignments. This means that the task can be completed while the machine is still at its operating temperature, avoiding the need to compensate for thermal expansion. The process is simplified further by using a wireless technology to pair the sensors to the display. Wireless connectivity also improves access and makes it easy to position the display. The Las-Set system includes soft-foot checking to ensure the motor is stable, and is not loose or subject to deflections.

NSK says that LAS-Set can turn an expert task into a standard maintenance procedure that is quick and easy to perform, thus helping to minimise machine downtime and maximise productivity.

The Las-Set and Lab-Set system are both part of NSK’s AIP+ service.

NSK's shaft alignment system can turn an expert task into a standard maintenance procedure



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