“This gives us the noise relief we needed and flexibility as we grow.”
A large furniture manufacturer in upstate New York installed a state-of-the-art, computer controlled planer/saw/jointer machine. As their production increased, so did the plant noise, with noise levels on the production floor in excess of 100 dBA (similar to motorcycle or snowmobile noise).
With concerns about the health and safety of the operators, the Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) manager reached out to SysTech Design for assistance. SysTech Design performed a thorough process analysis, which included both pre and post sound level sampling, along with a review/understanding of material flow, exposure points, operator station locations, and frequently accessed locations required for maintenance. Two (2) sound enclosure designs were considered, a rigid wall enclosure and a soft sided, flexible wall enclosure. The soft-wall design allowed easy access (flexible panels are attached to a tube framework with Velcro) and could be easily changed to a different enclosure configuration. The rigid wall design was constructed of 4 inch thick perforated metal panels and was meant to be a permanent installation. The client opted for the flexible wall construction because it met required attenuation and gave them easy access to the machine area, with the ability to move portions of the structure in the future.
Acoustic “Softwall” Enclosure Design
The machine enclosure was 55’ long x 38’ wide x 10’ tall and included a floor mounted square tube support structure, access doors, windows, and control panel ventilation. The walls were positioned in an irregular pattern to encapsulate the machine. The flexible wall material used was Noise Suppression Technology noise attenuation panels, Model QCC-10QQ, which have aluminum faced quilted fiberglass absorber on both sides of a non-reinforced loaded vinyl barrier. Each panel was furnished with Velcro self-adhering nylon closures along the entire length of each edge, with support points at the top of each panel reinforced at grommet locations on 12” centers.
The design goal was a noise level less than 85 dBA to negate the need for an OSHA Hearing Conservation Program.
The soft-wall enclosure enabled us to meet our design goal; a 18-20 dBA noise reduction at the operator’s workstation was achieved.