Plant engineers sometimes ask how to best justify purchasing a precision laser alignment tool and training. My first answer is usually to point to a pump in the plant, and say, “How much is the mechanical seal in that pump?” Normally, the answer is a few thousand dollars. To which I then say, “If you can save just a few seals from failing, you’ve paid for it”.
But if you really need to cost justify alignment, here are some things to consider:
- Is the machine production-related? Will the whole plant or process be stopped? Some coupled machines are directly involved with producing a product. Certainly they are critical to production. But there may be other processes, such as fire protection, HVAC, component cooling, hydraulics, etc. They can also be important to the operation.
- If the coupling fails, what happens? Will it destroy thousands of dollars in seals? Bearings? Shafting?
- How often do you replace the coupling insert? Are there empty coupling insert boxes already in the trash can nearby? I know coupling inserts are relatively inexpensive, but paying one or two mechanics to change it every few weeks IS NOT.
- There is often a slight amount of energy savings gained from performing precision alignment. It depends on many things, but can be another factor in the purchasing decision. Even though the industry average for cost savings from alignment is small, the energy savings may still be enough to cover the maintenance labor cost of the alignment.
Reduced labor charged to the machine. Improved MTBF. Longer life from seals, bearings, and coupling inserts. Reduced downtime. Energy savings.
All good things!