In a sense, this post is about one, and only one topic: MONEY. If alignment can be improved, the machinery failure rate drops dramatically. Equipment failures are a major maintenance expense and have numerous incidental or associated costs. In fact, the cost of parts and labor to repair the machine can be one of the smaller costs. Lost production, contractual penalties, consequential damages, and liability for injury can all be much more expensive than the repair itself. If half of the alignments in your plant are done with a straight edge and the other half with dial indicators, our experience tells us that the average misalignment in the plant will be about 15 mils (offset and angular misalignment, where the angular misalignment is expressed in mils/10″). This misalignment will create an average power loss of 0.842% (please note that this is a very conservative figure: there is a high likelihood of this value being significantly higher.)

For machines operating 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, at an average cost of energy of $0.06 per Kilowatt-hour, the Total Cost of Lost Power (TCLP) for a small industrial plant running up to 150 small to medium-sized machines (average of 35 HP) can be determined to be:
TCLP = 150 machines × 35 HP/machine × 0.7457 Kw/HP × 365 days/year × 24 hours/day × 0.00842 × $0.06/KwHour = $17,325.70 per year.

With precision alignment, it is possible to achieve an average misalignment of just 2 mils. This misalignment creates an average power loss of 0.041%. Thus, the new TCLP will be:
TCLP = 150 machines × 35 HP/machine × 0.7457 Kw/HP × 365 days/year × 24 hours/day × 0.00041 × $0.06/KwHour = $843.65 per year.

Therefore, the reduction in Cost of Power is: $17,325.70 – 843.65 = $16,482.04.

These savings easily pay for a new laser alignment system in one year, without taking into consideration all the other attendant benefits from the reduction in misalignment, such as reduced vibration resulting in improved product quality, greater manufacturing output efficiency, and reduced wear and tear on the machines with the consequential reduction in labor, repair, and spare parts expenses. Add to this the reduction in unscheduled downtime and the savings become almost incalculable.

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by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL