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Bearings - 2016-09-30

NSK’s LAS-Set uses digital sensors with high resolution for precise shaft alignment results

For plants looking to minimise losses and ensure machines gives optimum performance with the lowest energy consumption, NSK can now offer advanced laser alignment tools as part of its new AIP+ Added Value Programme. The tools have been developed in response to the fact that over 50% of machines run out of alignment, which causes higher loading and lower overall performance.

The AIP+ laser alignment tools comprise two device sets, one for belts and another for shafts.

Correct alignment of belt drives is increasingly important wherever machine performance and maintenance costs are key considerations. Pulley misalignment can result in unnecessary forces being applied to machinery that in turn leads to increased wear and vibration and, subsequently, premature bearing failure and costly machine downtime.

The belt alignment device found on many low cost systems typically involves mounting and measuring from the pulley side face. However, this is limited as it assumes that the pulley side is clean, rust-free and parallel to the pulley V-grooves. As a consequence, this method does not often result in accurate alignment.
Conversely, NSK’s unique LAB-Set laser mounts in the actual pulley V-grooves where the belt runs, thus ensuring perfect alignment every time.

Unlike most other systems that rely on a single laser or mirror system which is very difficult to set-up and use, NSK’s LAB-Set is based on a pair of line laser transmitters (with integrated targets), each equipped with two spring-loaded guides which fit into the pulley grooves. Using two lasers, exceptionally high  resolution can be achieved so that even the smallest of misalignments can easily be identified. Parallel offset, angular error and twist are instantly visible to the operator.

The benefits of true belt alignment are wide-reaching and include extended bearing life and the removal of erroneous forces associated with misalignment. In addition, wear on the drive train is reduced, and operating efficiency increased (as a result of less friction).

The same advantages can be accrued through the use of LAS-Set for shaft alignment. It is well documented that achieving shaft alignment on a co-linear axis is a complex task that requires allowance for factors such as bar sag. Traditionally, this is performed using dial-test indicators (DTIs), but is considered a black art that can only be performed by highly skilled and experienced technicians.

In contrast, LAS-Set uses dual line lasers for easy set-up, even at larger distances, and digital sensors with high resolution for precise results. Additionally, a software-driven display unit that provides an icon-based, intuitive, step-by-step guide, makes the entire alignment process both straightforward and quick.

Importantly, the device performs live measurements while adjustment is taking place, checking for offset and angular misalignment (live updates are provided using a simple red/green indicator for in or out of tolerance). 
As a result, this task can be completed when the machine is still at its operating temperature, removing the need to compensate for thermal expansion. The process is simplified further by the use of wireless technology pairing the sensor units to the display. Wireless connectivity also serves to improve access and
make for easy location of the display unit. 

Further benefits to users of LAS-Set include softfoot checking. NSK recommends that softfoot is checked first to ensure the motor is stable and not subject to deflection or looseness.

Ultimately, LAS-Set offers the capability to turn an expert task into a standard maintenance process that is simple and fast to perform, thus helping to minimise machine downtime and maximise productivity. 

Both LAS-Set and LAB-Set are part of a complete AIP+ service offering, and are seen as excellent partner tools to those available in NSK’s condition monitoring portfolio.



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