Align right from the start – optimize production

The manufacturing industry contains machines that make the most wonderful things! In order for this to happen at the right level of quality and at speed, correctly aligned and set-up machinery is required. Easy-Laser can make this happen. Our measurement systems are also used to check the manufactured items, so that tolerances are maintained, and so that parts can be assembled correctly. That is why under this heading we have collated information about both the machines found in workshops as well the items manufactured there.

Production machines – geometry checks

A very broad term, indeed, but what can be said is that it is very important to install all machines on a flat foundation and level. Bases must also be dimensioned correctly. Only if the basics are carried out correctly can you have confidence in the machine working optimally. It is a about giving both the machines and the operator the correct prerequisites.

A common scenario is that the production line is designed and test-built in one place, then purchased by a customer or by a packager who built a process skid including many other components. Then it is tested FAT (Factory Approval Testing) before being shipped to the end customer. For the shipping purposes the skid needs to be prepared, machine trains uncoupled, pipings dismantled, drained of oil etc. Then the skid is transported to the end customer facilities where it is finally being installed. Consider this:

  • Skids must be levelled, and flatness must be checked before the machines are put in place
  • After lifting the skid for transportation, always assume the conditions will change
  • Always consider final installation in the end customer facilities as a completely new build

With the above in mind it is easy to understand that precision alignment checks are necessary in very many steps to assure a reliable machinery installation. A general requirement is better than 0,1 mm/m [0.1 thou/inch] relative level/plumb and for flatness. Construction laser equipment rarely offers the precision required by today's highly efficient machines.

Read more about reliable machinery installation.

Machine tools and sheet metal machining – geometry checks

CNC cutters, lathes, drills; the most important thing to check in a machine tool is the geometry. This is about straightness, flatness, squareness, parallelism and pointing direction with very high accuracy. On a new machine it is normally expected to be 0.005 mm within the whole working range.

A spindle crashing into the object can be enough for changing the machine geometry. Experienced operators learn their machines and can compensate for this and go on producing excellent products – until the limit for handling those variables is reached. Then the machine geometry must be reset.

Other machine examples include sheet metal presses, drilling machines, punches, cutting machines, laser and water cutting machines, edge presses and roll forming machines.

Easy-Laser can also be used to set-up and adjust the workpiece to the correct position before machining. After all, it is of little consolation that the bore is the correct diameter if it is in the wrong place or at the wrong angle!

Printing presses and cardboard machines

Machines for processing, and printing on fine paper and cardboard often require the alignment of rollers, cutting heads and guides. Geometric measurement of machine frames and bases is also common. When you use a precision laser system for the machine adjustment (straightness, flatness, level and parallelism) you can always see an improvement on the finished product. And often increase production speed. Read more about how EMBA Machinery measures and aligns using lasers in its production and at installation.

Straightness measurement of linear guide with laser transmitter D22 from system E720.
Straightness measurement of linear guide with laser transmitter D22 from system E720.

Industrial robots (welding, painting, cutting, material handling etc.)

Industrial robots are obviously dependent on being stable, and being able to move in an accurate and controllable manner. Check the foundation with a laser system for flatness measurement.

Manufacture of diesel engines and gearboxes

Easy-Laser E950 Bore alignment system is used to check the straightness of the bearing journals' centre line. If you want to measure relative to an axial surface of an engine block, use laser transmitter D25 with built-in angular prism (accessory). Flatness measurement of partitioned surfaces is performed with sweep laser (e.g. D22).

Manufacture of furniture and furnishings

Machines that make furniture and furnishings, usually of wood but also steel, need to be correctly set-up and aligned just like the machines in the metal industry, but not always with the same high demands on precision. 

Textile industry 

E.g. automatic looms, knitting machines and sewing machines. These machines have a lot of rollers, guides and rails that must be straight, flat, parallel and at an angle.