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App-based shaft alignment system is ‘quick and easy’ to use

11 May, 2015

SKF has developed a shaft alignment tool which it claims is the first of its type to allow alignments using tablets and smartphones. The app makes it quick and easy to set-up motors, drives, fans, gearboxes, pulleys and couplings, even by operators who are using the instrument for the first time.

SKF has also announced a new entry-level shaft alignment system that reduces the need for pre-alignment and is said to provide precise measurements, even in challenging conditions.

The new app-based TKSA 51 system, which was unveiled at the recent Hannover Fair, comprises two compact laser-based measuring modules that can be mounted on small machines with limited space. Extension chains, rods and magnetic holders are supplied for mounting the tool on larger machines.

The modules link wirelessly to the app which provides a live 3D view of the process, allowing operators to rotate the virtual machine and making the alignment intuitive. Measurements are made by touching a button or using a hands-free automatic measurement function that simply requires the shaft to be rotated to the next measurement position.

“Shaft misalignment is one of the main causes of machine failure,” says Jens Kammann, product manager in SKF’s Maintenance Products business. “It creates additional forces and vibration that can damage machine components, such as bearings, seals and couplings, adding considerably to operating and maintenance costs.

“Often, we find shafts not being aligned correctly because the applied method or instrument is time-consuming and difficult to use, leading to mistakes and incorrect alignments,” he continues. “The TKSA 51 eliminates these problems. As a result, engineers can significantly increase uptime, with the confidence that machines are correctly setup for efficient and cost-effective operation.”

The system allows alignments in confined spaces. Measurements can start at any angle and only need a shaft rotation of 40 degrees. Further alignment adjustments are possible with alignment targets that, for example, can compensate for the thermal expansion of machine components. After each alignment check or correction, a report is created that can be customised, emailed or uploaded to a cloud service for future reference. If a problem occurs during set-up – such as the detector being off-centre or the laser beam being too close to the edge of the detector – notifications and guidance menus are displayed.

SKF's TKSA 51 shaft alignment system can be used by inexperienced operators

The downloadable app can includes a demonstration mode for trying the TKSA 51 before buying it.

SKF’s other new laser-based shaft alignment tool, the TKSA 31, helps to identify and correct shaft misalignments at an “entry-level” price. It has the same design as the existing TKSA 41 but has reduced measurement flexibility and lacks the camera function that allows pictures to be added to TKSA 41 reports.

The TKSA 31 is said to reduce the need for pre-alignment and to provide precise measurements, even in challenging conditions. An LCD touchscreen makes alignment fast and simple, and measurements can be performed by using the 9-12-3-o’clock positions, with a flexibility of 40 degrees around each. A live view supports intuitive measurements and facilitates horizontal and vertical machine position corrections.

Because the TKSA 31 allows automatic measurements by detecting when the heads are in the correct position, operators can use both hands to rotate and hold the shafts. After each alignment, the instrument generates a customised report with notes about the application.

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