I frequently hear statements similar to these in training classes:
- We just straightedge it in, and align it when we have an outage.
- Don’t be so picky. It IS a flexible coupling.
- They won’t give me time to align it properly.
My answers are something along these lines:
- I doubt they’ll let you go back and align it properly! There will be another “fire to fight” by the time the outage gets here. And there may already be damage to the insert, bearings, or seals before you do get to align it. So, align it now.
- It IS a flexible coupling, but not infinitely flexible. As a matter of fact, many are not very flexible at all. Much of the force transmitted by the coupling to the shafts will move right to the bearings and seals, damaging them. So, align it now.
- They will give the electricians time to wire it back up, won’t they? So you may be able to align it before the electricians finish wiring it up. So, align it now.
Few things irritate me more than when a company spends thousand of dollars for a precision laser shaft alignment tool, only to NOT USE IT because they are in too big a hurry for immediate gratification! If they would only allow a few extra minutes to align it properly, they could avoid misalignment-related problems. The coupling insert won’t need replacing every few weeks (just like last time), the seals won’t start leaking again after a few months (just like last time), and the bearings may not retire until after you do.
Believe me – as a millwright for 25 odd years I’ve been in your shoes. It’s frustrating when you want to do the job right, but are overruled when you try. Sometimes the best way to prove it is to go along “chewing up couplings” until someone takes notice.
However, I hope you will be your own advocate. Stress to your management and to production that just a few more minutes aligning it “by the book” will increase the life of the machine exponentially, reduce future costly unscheduled downtime, cost in fewer wasted parts, and generally, make everyone’s life at work more pleasant.