How important is it to align the motors in your shop? A ReliabilityWeb.com article, “Shaft Alignment, Soft Foot & Energy Savings,” cited studies that show you can get a real energy savings of 2.3% by aligning a loaded machine—and as much as 9% on an unloaded machine. For a plant spending $50,000 per month on energy, that would equal a savings of $1,250-$4,500/month—or $15,000-$54,000 per year.*
“Studies have shown that misalignment can increase energy usage by as much as 9% in direct coupled equipment, 20% in belt-driven machines, and 17% in soft foot conditions in motors,” said Bill Cooper, a Senior Field Analyst in the Industrial Maintenance Technologies Division at IBT Industrial Solutions. “While these are likely worst-case scenarios, we actually see worst-case conditions quite often.”
Regular motor alignment can also save you money by preventing mechanical failures and unplanned downtime for repairs. “Alignment is needed to prevent premature failure of the bearings, coupling, seals, and related mechanical components,” said Chris Treat, Business Group Director of the Industrial Maintenance Technologies Division at IBT. “It also reduces power usage of the motor, as well as destructive vibration levels.”
When to Align Your Motors
Treat recommends setting up a routine motor alignment program to ensure that your motors are running efficiently.
“Any motor that drives a fan, blower, gearbox, hammer mill, or pump needs to be properly aligned,” Treat said. “At IBT, we routinely align any size motor, from 5 hp motors all the way up to 10,000 hp motors.”
The motor should also be aligned when it is installed or moved for repairs, he added.
Correct Way to Do Alignment
A proper motor alignment should be done by a trained technician using the correct laser equipment, Treat said. When the laser is attached to the motor, it tells the tech exactly which direction the motor needs to be moved—to the thousandth of an inch. The tech then adjusts the position of the motor and retests it.
“Any business that uses motors can benefit from regular alignment,” Treat said. His team has performed alignments at a wide variety of customer locations, including:
- Power plants
- Manufacturing plants
- Ethanol plants
- Food processing plants
- Mining industry
About IBT’s Maintenance Services
IBT’s Industrial Maintenance Technologies (IMT) division can troubleshoot your equipment issues 24/7/365. We use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to align, balance, and resolve your mechanical and electrical problems—including motors, bearings, belts, pulleys, shafts, pumps, gearboxes, fans, blowers, cooling towers, chillers, and more.
Our team can help you with:
- Vibration analysis
- Precision laser alignment
- Dynamic balancing
- Infrared thermography
- Performance analysis
- Failure analysis
- Predictive and preventive maintenance
- Component repair and overhaul