Investments are then made in new machines, machines are relocated and altered, and our operations continually improve. However, this assumes that we have done everything correctly from the outset, that the machine is correctly set up and adjusted. This usually means that it has to be horizontal or vertical. Using levels of various shapes and sizes, we have been adjusting machines for more than a century.
David Gudmunds at Gudmunds Machine Service works on a daily basis with the inspection and alignment of machine tools, and naturally adapts his tools according to what needs to be done.
“I have just been in Brazil, where I helped a customer align the linear guides on a machine. These were six metres in length, so it was a fairly large machine. I use different instruments depending on the job at hand, and for this assignment I needed a laser measurement system. It is interesting to see how opinions regarding alignment can differ – they almost felt that the accuracy I achieved was too accurate! At another manufacturer, their client is so demanding that if a single component is found to be defective in a random test, the entire batch is sent back, and if this happens too often they will simply no longer be retained as a supplier.”
David Gudmunds, Gudmunds Machine Service
David has an Easy-Laser® system with an associated electronic level, as well as a few other necessary instruments such as dial gauges. They all have their benefits, depending on what is to be done. He uses the laser system to check linear motion and the geometry. The levels are often used after moving a machine, in order to set the machine in the correct basic position.
“In my experience, the electronic levels react more quickly than a spirit level,” says David. “I can also connect the Easy-Laser® level wirelessly to the measurement system and use the large display unit, from where I can adjust the machine. It’s easier this way! This connection also means that I can document the values in a report later, which is generally appreciated.”
Jan Oscander at Easy-Laser says: “Those of us who work with and develop instruments and tools that help people to provide machines with the correct preconditions can clearly see the significance: our laser instruments do their job perfectly, but having a digital level in their toolbox makes the installation engineer complete! When installing a bed-type milling machine, for example, you have always had to place the level, or possibly levels, on the table and then creep around adjusting the feet in order to achieve a horizontal end result. You go up and down at least ten times to check – maybe fifty times! If we have the display instrument and the adjustment values with us, we can achieve a result more quickly, where we can await any material deformation and then determine the final installation. With our free app you can now also use your iPhone as a handy display.”
David Gudmunds tells us more about his experiences: “I am surprised at how many people continue to use their machines with compensated settings following collisions. This can result in ball screws and bearings becoming worn earlier than normal, for example, yet they carry on anyway. On one occasion, when they eventually came to be replaced, I found that the tower had twisted by 4 mm, with the result that the new screw could not be installed! I had to perform a complete alignment of the geometry, just because they had waited too long. This scenario can result in long and costly downtimes, entire unnecessarily. After all, it takes time to implement compensations in production as well.”
It is not only the geometry of the machine that has to be correct in order to manufacture components according to specifications. The film of lubricant in the machine also has to work in the movement segments, as otherwise the availability period will be reduced. The machine then has to be installed in such a way that the functioning of the lubrication film is ensured by rigidity in the design. For machine owners, the overall picture is obviously vital. You have to be able to manufacture fault-free components, but you also have to enjoy maximum machine availability. It is only then that the process actually becomes profitable for both manufacturer and client!
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