* Picture courtesy of V-Tek Associates, http://www.vtekassociates.com/
Practice and repetition are key components to becoming good at anything. Precision shaft alignment is no different.
It is a rare day when an important alignment project develops, all pre-alignment conditions are perfect and the machinist is given all the time in the world to do the alignment. The machinist might even have the latest and greatest laser alignment system. Since that situation never really happens and chances of a mistake are likely, we should consider this Aristotle quote: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Having a good repeatable machine trainer is an excellent way to maintain competency and ensure success when going to the field. A real trainer must be repeatable, must be able to create conditions found in the real world such as base-bound/bolt-bound conditions, axial float, soft foot or non-rotating shaft. Most importantly, a well-designed, repeatable trainer can be used to practice the alignment procedure and also allow the user to become more familiar with the alignment process and alignment instrument and develop excellent habits.
Many times companies just take an old motor/pump skid and try to use that as a trainer. They typically have been junked for a reason and don’t make the best trainers. Others try to build their own and in my experience they either do not get around to it or if they do, it is not very repeatable or does not allow the user to set up various misalignment conditions.
A trainer that can best simulate real machine conditions will help the machinist become an expert in shaft alignment and this can only happen with practice, practice, practice.