Using a Laser Shaft Alignment System to Check for Pipe Strain

Pipe strain is a relatively common problem seen in pump installations. It is a cause of premature bearing and seal failure. Here is a link to an excellent article from Pumps and Systems magazine that discusses the detrimental effects of pump strain.


You can easily measure the effects of pipe strain using dial indicators or your laser system. Simply measure the misalignment with everything tight and then re-measure after loosening the pipe flange. Here is an example:

1 – Measure misalignment with everything tight:


In this case the machine is well within alignment tolerances for an 1800 RPM machine

2 – Loosen the pipe flange and re-measure the misalignment:


In this particular example the vertical misalignment did not change very much but the horizontal changed quite a bit indicating that pipe stain is an issue in the horizontal direction.

3 – If you want and have the capability you can use a foot-lock function to see the effects on the pump itself. Alternatively, you could have also set up with the pump as the moveable element and look at it that way.



Unlike OL2R (off-line to running) measurements made to check for thermal growth, you would not typically try and compensate for pipe strain during the alignment but it is very important to correct it up front for maximum machine life.

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  1. Noah on April 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Hey Mike , would you tell me location of dial for pipe strain on , its not a leaser alignment ,thanks.

  2. Mike Keohane on April 28, 2015 at 9:28 am


    You can mount a dial on the shaft and go across the coupling. You should consider mounting dials in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Zero the dial and then loosen the pipe flange to check for movement.

  3. Kane on April 28, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Where to out dti for pipe strain when joining pipe work to a pump. Axially on pipe flange. Or input flange. Or under output flange.

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