I heard this saying recently, and I like it a lot!  Whether we are talking about woodworking, precision maintenance, shaft alignment, or any number of other crafts or technical operations-it is true.

In my time as a trainer for Acoem USA, I have heard mechanics say (more times than I could count) “my (current alignment tool) is a piece of junk!  I’m going back to my dials!”.

Why?  In almost every instance, it was operator error!

The most common reasons for alignment frustration are:

  • Not truly understanding what precision shaft alignment is.
  • Not knowing how the alignment tool works.
  • Improper set-up.
  • Not taking care of the basics:
    • Roughing in before mounting the sensors.
    • Checking brackets, bolts, rods, heads, etc. for looseness.
    • Minimizing soft foot
    • Tightening the hold down bolts in a controlled method.
    • Controlling backlash.
  • Using damaged shims or using something that is not precise enough to be called a shim.
  • Getting in a hurry, instead of working fast and efficiently.
  • Not having, or using, jacking bolts to precisely control horizontal movement.

Believe me, I have done most of these at some time in my life, so I can relate.

Do you get frustrated when aligning machinery?  Have you developed your own “shortcuts” that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t?  Are you ready to “go back to your dials”, or even worse-give up, or just lie about a completed alignment, and tell the boss it’s done?

Give us a call.  We CAN help!


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  1. Andy on August 9, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    Great article Stan, I have heard the same complaints and excuses only to find it to be operator error or a result of shortcuts. I think the term for this is PICNIC, Problem In Chair Not In Computer.

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