“Does misalignment waste energy?” is a question often asked. The answer, emphatically, is yes! General Motors Corporation and Ludeca performed and published a study on this issue in 1993 which showed conclusively that energy savings (Real Power savings) of 2.3 percent could be obtained on loaded machines. On unloaded machines, the savings ranged as high as 9 percent! At ICI Chemicals, a UK chemical plant in the north of England, a carefully controlled doctoral research project revealed even higher savings. Other studies suggest averaged savings of 4 to 5 percent.

In late 1993, Infraspection Institute in New Jersey demonstrated in a carefully controlled study conducted at Miller Brewing Company that misalignment generates heat and wastes energy. This was clearly demonstrated in the comparative infrared signatures obtained on the same machines when running in an aligned and misaligned condition with different types of couplings (see Figures 1 and 2.) Precise magnitudes of misalignment were very carefully set with an OPTALIGN® laser system and the results were meticulously examined with calibrated thermograms recorded for each case.

Clearly, the energy required to accommodate the increased sliding velocities from misalignment within flexible couplings must come from somewhere, and this wasted energy comes at the direct expense of the efficiency of the rotating machines. While the percentage of savings may not seem very significant, a plant that reduces energy consumption by 4 percent on an energy bill of $50,000 per month would save $24,000 in just the first year, more than enough to justify the purchase of a higher-end laser shaft alignment system.

Read the entire Shaft Alignment, Soft Foot and Energy Savings 

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, by Alan Luedeking CRL CMRP