Machine Shop Noise Control

The processes required for metal forming work are inherently noisy operations. In formulating an approach to the control of this noise, several steps may be taken. These are described in the order of increasing engineering involvement in the detailed methods of the operations.

1) Community Noise

The first thing to determine is the level of noise that is reaching the plant property line, and other nearby neighbors. This is quickly accomplished during a site noise survey. The noise levels at critical locations can then be analyzed to determine if the noise is in compliance with applicable noise regulations, and if it is likely to annoy the neighbors.

If the initial site survey finds that noise at the property line is a problem, then noise control measures can be designed and implemented. In some cases, simply shutting the doors and windows and installing a closed heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system will go a long way toward solving any problem. Care must be taken that the HVAC itself is not a significant noise generator. If air or other exhausts are involved, silencing may be required. Also, it is recommended to take steps to put noise control measures in place before any complaints, and possibly costly litigation, occur.

2) General shop noise reduction

A general reduction of noise in the shop, and a concurrent reduction of noise that is transmitted to the nearby offices, may be accomplished. The first step is to conduct a noise survey of the shop, in order to characterize the noise signatures that the machinery operations emit.

Once the survey data are analyzed and the noise signatures are known, an architectural solution to the noise problem can be designed, which accounts for the unique character of the noise from this machinery. This may include the addition of noise absorption materials to the room, barriers, enclosures or walls. The approach taken will depend on the circumstances of each machine, and the overall manufacturing process.

3) Process noise reduction

It may be desired to control the noise at its source, the metal forming processes themselves. One motivation may be to reduce the need for hearing protection, improving employee communication and productivity.

The working process of each machine can be analyzed to determine the appropriate modifications to be made for noise reduction purposes. Often, these modifications may take advantage of new materials or methods, which can provide the benefits of improved efficiency and quality, as well as reduced operating cost. The noise data acquired as part of Step 2, described above, is the starting point for this effort. Careful coordination with plant operations and engineering people during the design process is encouraged, to ensure successful results.

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