Baldor Electric continues energy-efficiency education

Oak Brook, Ill. - Concerns about energy-efficiency and usage of energy are gradually receiving deserved attention-whether applied to electric motors, drive systems, process controls, or industrial lighting. Recent one-day seminars presented here by Baldor Electric Co. (Fort Smith, Ark. continue to spread the word on ways industrial customers can reduce their total electric bill and get return on investment typically under 24 months.


Oak Brook, Ill. - Concerns about energy-efficiency and usage of energy are gradually receiving deserved attention - whether applied to electric motors, drive systems, process controls, or industrial lighting.

Recent one-day seminars presented here by Baldor Electric Co. (Fort Smith, Ark. ) continue to spread the word on ways industrial customers can reduce their total electric bill and get return on investment typically under 24 months. '2002 Energy Cost Reduction Seminar' (February 25 & 26) focused on how to evaluate/reduce electricity costs in an industrial plant, outlined a motor management plan, and described services available to implement an energy-efficiency program.

Because of the large consumption of electric power by industrial ac induction motors, this product sector leads the energy-efficiency efforts. There is good reason: U.S. Dept. of Energy 1998 figures show that motors consume 63% of electricity used by industry and 25% of all electricity sold in this nation. At the same time, other energy-consuming equipment is also coming under the view of the efficiency microscope.

Decision conundrum

One obstacle facing energy-efficiency advocates is how to reach the level of personnel that make the investment decision. Often, the cost difference to replace an old motor with a standard-efficiency or a high-efficiency model is in the hundreds of dollars or a few thousand dollars (depending on unit size). This is a decision made at the maintenance-department level or other local level in a company. However, initial cost represents only around 3% of the motor's total lifetime expense. Operating cost (electricity usage) accounts for 97%! For example, operating cost for a 50-hp motor over 10 years can mean an investment of $300,000, according to Jerry Ossowski, Baldor district manager in the Chicago area. Such an outlay requires executive-level decision that's not normally in place for motor issues. Also, it may not be practical to make that decision quickly enough without prior planning.

Seminars of this type are a step forward. They educate users and company executives about the potential of energy-efficient products and deliver the message that energy management must have company-wide perspective to be successful.

In-house programs

John McFarland, Baldor Electric president and ceo, described a major electricity cost reduction program at the company's main plant in Fort Smith. It involved replacing motors that power production equipment and switching seven HVAC systems to variable-frequency drive control. Although the original motors were Baldor's own, many were 10 years old or even older. 'The best motors made 10 years ago are not as efficient as those made today,' said Mr. McFarland. Besides savings on electricity usage, worker productivity improvement was attributed to the air-conditioning systems' upgraded adjustable-speed operation.

Another program, still ongoing at several Baldor manufacturing plants, investigated and measured energy consumption by numerous motors of all sizes. One of the findings was that motors account for about 65% of the company's electric bill. To date some 145 motors have been replaced by higher efficiency models, with projected 10-year energy savings of $373,000, according to Mr. McFarland.

A number of customer case studies were also presented in the seminar, describing other 'success stories' to reduce energy costs.

Payback tool, management plan

A PC-based software tool is available to help users evaluate their potential energy savings and payback on investment. Called BE$T (Baldor Energy Savings Tool), the software outputs simple payback reports for projects or individual motors. It can be used for motors connected to adjustable-speed drives, in which case, load vs. time data for the application must be entered into the program. BE$T can also be used to build a database of all motors in a plant. The software tool can be downloaded from Baldor's web site at .

Surveying the plant is recommended so that a user can make an intelligent decision to replace or rewind a motor before it fails. As Randy Breaux, Baldor vice president of marketing put it, 'By developing a motor management plan ahead of time, a good decision can be made when needed - not under the pressure of an emergency.'

Still other services are available to customers interested in energy savings. Mark Hamann, senior energy engineer in the Technical Services Dept. of Commonwealth Edison/Exelon (Chicago, Ill.; ), presented one source for such services. He summarized the department's scope of work as follows:

  • Perform facility analyses to 'determine opportunities;'

  • Implement a set of design recommendations; and

  • Verify results (or savings) of the recommended changes to 'perform as sold.'

Specialists are on hand to apply data acquisition methods, engineering analysis software, and energy-saving products to the project, explained Mr. Hamann. ComEd's Technical Services Department has completed 1,500 industrial site analyses to date.

Baldor Electric claims the title of the largest industrial motor supplier in the U.S. Founded in 1920, the company is no new comer to promoting energy-efficiency matters. One of Baldor's advertisements from 1924 refers to '.minimum amount of electricity' usage in motors.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Frank J. Bartos, executive editor

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