The Importance of Mechanical Skills in the Data Center: Precision Shaft Alignment


Knowing how to perform a precision shaft alignment is important when it comes to maintenance skills. Whether you are using dial indicators or a laser alignment tool (if you are in the market for either, we have several options), being able to achieve an accurate, repeatable alignment is key.

A few reminders:

The pre-alignment steps really are important. They help to minimize unintended movement and ensure you are aligning within tolerance. As a refresher, the pre-alignment steps are:

  • Rough alignment using a straightedge
  • Elimination of obvious soft foot
  • Bolt tightening sequence
  • Final soft foot check

Some other important things to remember:

  • Be on the lookout for coupling backlash
  • Take care of dirt and debris that may be affecting the alignment
  • It’s generally best to shim for soft foot nearest the site of the soft foot
  • Using a torque wrench to tighten the hold-down bolts is recommended

VibrAlign’s founder came up with the Verti-Zontal Compound Move method of shaft alignment. As its name indicates, this method allows you to make both vertical and horizontal corrections in a single measurement or spin of the shafts. This method makes shaft alignment easier and more accurate, and means less shimming, less bolt-tightening, and ultimately much more time and energy saved.

You can read more about the Verti-Zontal shaft alignment method here.

One caveat we’d like to add, however, is that, while precision is essential when it comes to shaft alignment, spending all day on an alignment so that you can get those zeroes to show up will often be counter-productive. Simply aligning within specified tolerances and then moving on to the next task is probably a better use of time.

As one of VibrAlign’s trainers so aptly phrased it: “Modern laser shaft alignment tools are not about how close to zero you can get the alignment, but how quickly you can complete the job, while doing it accurately, repeatably, and easily.”


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