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PLANT SERVICES • JULY 2011
Misaligned pumps can affect energy efficiency
Align pumps with laser accuracy.
By Heinz P. Bloch, P.E., Process Machinery Consulting
In brief:

  • Intern approaches pump laser alignment with laser accuracy.
  • Tips to compare the energy wasted by a hot coupling to the energy loss.
  • Misalignment affects bearing load and excessive bearing load causes exponential decreases in bearing life.

In the summer of 1994, Jack Lambley, an intern at Imperial Chemical Industries’ (ICI) Rocksavage site in the United Kingdom, was quantifying the effect of misaligned process pumps on power consumption. He arranged to have a surplus pump overhauled and fitted with new bearings. He then had the pump installed in a suitably instrumented closed-loop arrangement operating on water. Prüftechnik loaned Lambley a laser-optic alignment instrument.
As an undergraduate student, Lambley had learned that misalignment affects bearing load and that excessive bearing load causes exponential decreases in bearing life. His supervisor, Steve Moore, had asked Lambley to read the engineering sections of SKF’s general catalog, which stated that a 25% increase in bearing load cut its rated life in half.
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, by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL