Besides common hazards, managing an industrial facility also involves dealing with various risks. While some of these may be obvious, such as machine collisions and repetitive motion strains, others are less obvious. One of these is noise control, which gets often overlooked in industrial workers’ safety. Industrial equipment and utility systems are loud for eight hours, and employees should avoid exposure to these sounds.
Noise levels of less than 70 decibels can cause hearing loss. As the damage to the hearing deteriorates, workers may not be able to sense specific hazards, such as approaching cars. It can also cause a ringing in the ears, distracting workers from their duties. Despite the various risks that industrial noise poses, there are still multiple solutions available to help minimize its effects.
Constrained Layer Damping
One of the best ways to minimize the effects of industrial noise is to remove it in the first place. For instance, reducing the vibrations of machines to allow them to run quietly is one of the most common ways to deal with this issue. However, constrained layer damping can also help minimize the effects of industrial noise reduction. This type of damping gets placed between two metal sheets. Traditional damping methods rely on a high-density material getting stuck to a metal surface.
One of the most common ways to counteract the effects of industrial noise is by implementing noise-cancelling windows. This method gets inspired by the technology used in Apple Air Pods, which can get used to block the surrounding sounds. Researchers in Singapore discovered that this type of system could reduce the incoming noise by up to 50%.
The technology works by using sensors to detect the presence of noise within a particular area. These sensors then produce an out-of-phase sound wave that dissipates the incoming noise before reaching the window. This method only works in blocking outside noise coming in. Although this type of system gets mainly used for blocking noise from windows, it can also get used to address other areas.
IoT Noise Cancellation
Another approach to Industrial Noise Reduction is by using the Internet of Things. Unfortunately, this method is not ideal because it requires a long time between when the sensors are activated and when the speakers emit their sound waves. Researchers believe that using an IoT-based system could be a better option.
Intelligent Active Noise Suppression
A more widely used noise-reduction method is intelligent panels, which are similar to traditional soundproofing materials. Unlike other methods, this technology works by analyzing the data generated by the sensors. It then produces opposing waves that are equal in size. The panels can achieve a sound reduction of 92% through closer analysis.
Compared to other sound-reduction methods, intelligent panels are more effective. They are ideal for industrial facilities as they use panels instead of devices such as microphones and headphones. However, this technology may not be feasible for every facility due to its relatively new nature.
Acoustic Metamaterial Rings
Although active noise cancellation is the most common Industrial noise reduction method, other methods can also get used. In 2019, a group of researchers from Boston University developed a passive noise control system that allows air to pass through while keeping the noise at bay. Their 3D-printed ring features a spiral pattern that can redirect sound waves.
The design of the Boston University ring works by using acoustic waves against each other, producing both counteractive and equal vibrations. It can get used to silence loud exhausts, such as those coming from industrial fans and HVAC units. Due to their low cost and ability to eliminate specific frequencies, companies can now create custom rings.
Nanotechnology Soundproofing Foam
Although it’s been around for a long time, recent advancements have made it more effective at reducing noise. One of the most promising new methods is using nanotechnology to turn soundwaves into heat. This process can get performed using readily available materials such as soundproofing foam. The surrounding environment can then absorb the heat generated by sound waves through its tubes.