Alignment Technology for Structural Engineers and The Military
For a structure or a whole system to function as its designers and engineers envisioned it, alignment is critical. Alignment refers to components’ geometric orientation. Devices such as theodolites assist in ensuring that each component is placed in its proper position.
Optical alignment tools have several applications. They can be used to monitor bulges and distortions in dams or bridges. They can also be used to measure a building’s sway in the wind or during an earthquake. They also play a vital role in aligning surfaces and radars on ships and aircraft.
Two of the most popular applications of alignment technology are in structural engineering and the military.
Alignment in Structural Engineering
In the world of engineering, even a seemingly small error can lead to huge and costly consequences. Structural engineers, in particular, are concerned with proper alignment as it can affect the structural soundness of buildings, bridges and roadways.
They rely on a number of tools to check if a component has accurate orientation and position. These include precision optical instruments, which provide better accuracy when examining the alignment of an object. For instance, theodolites can be used to measure the vertical and horizontal angles of a particular subject.
These devices aren’t just helpful in the construction phase of a certain structure. Engineers also use them when monitoring and detecting alignment shifts. For instance, if a truck crosses a bridge, they use alignment tools to check how it impacted the alignment of the components of the said bridge.
If a dam has become susceptible to base erosion, engineers can also use these instruments to inspect the structure for any distortion. If an earthquake hits a certain area, these tools are helpful in assessing the impact of the sway of a building on its structural integrity.
Alignment in The Military
Optical alignment tools also have various military applications.
One is surveying and navigation. The telescopic alidade is an optical device that is typically mounted on navy ships to see objects in the distance. Even back in the late 19th century, the earliest iteration of this tool has been helpful in mapping the topographical features of certain areas.
There are also optical tools designed to make sure that radar system components are manufactured and installed accurately. These rather sensitive components are critical parts that enable radars to accurately determine the range, angle, as well as velocity of approaching or surrounding objects.
In assembling different structures in a military vehicle, these devices provide that much-needed aid in guaranteeing that various components fit the required position and angle specifications of the design. Military personnel also use these instruments to determine the alignment of a specific structure in relation to the rest of the ship of aircraft.
There are also optical systems that are used to calibrate rocket artillery and other firearms mounted on military fighting vehicles. Military boresights help check the accuracy of these large guns found on military vehicles.
But whether it’s for military or structural engineering, the importance of these instruments remains the same: They ensure precise alignment, which can maximize the functionality and lifespan of a structure.