Acoustic design of industrial spaces

The reduction of noise levels and increase of production

Contents

1. Introduction 2. 3

Acoustic measurements Effect of acoustical treatment with suspended ceiling and wall panels
> Acoustic design with wall panels > Positioning of wall panels > Case study

4.

Case Study: Oatly Health Products Facility
> Room > Activity > Acoustic design > Room acoustic measurements > Results > Additional actions

6.

Appendix 1 – Results of measurements before and after

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Introduction

The main purpose of acoustic design in industrial spaces is usually to reduce the overall noise levels. In addition acoustic treatment with sound absorbers with good high frequency absorption gives increased speech intelligibility and better directional hearing, making it easier to hear the location of different sound sources.
This document explores the key measurement criteria, the effects of adding absorption to a space and demonstrates through a case study what can be achieved in real world applications. Before acoustic design it is recommended to interview the staff and identify the main acoustic problems and how noise affects the people working there. Besides the acoustics, it is also important to establish if other demands have to be fulfilled, for example cleaning or hygiene criteria. Once the key objectives have been defined, appropriate acoustic treatments can be developed to meet the specific challenges of the project. By lowering the noise levels, decreasing the reverberation time and increasing the speech intelligibility the acoustic comfort in the space will be improved, which studies have shown will have a positive effect on staff wellbeing.

Before acoustic design it is recommended to interview the staff and identify the main acoustic problems and how noise affects the people working there.

The main purpose of acoustic design in industrial spaces is usually to reduce the overall noise levels.

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Acoustic Measurements

To objectively measure the acoustic conditions in an industrial space several room acoustic parameters have to be measured. It’s common to measure parameters related to reverberance, sound strength and speech clarity. The parameters are described in table 1.

TABLE 1
Parameter Reverberation time Designation T20 Unit s Explanation Speed at which sound disappears Measure the perception of speech in a room. If these values increase the speech intelligibility increases. Measure the decrease in sound pressure level Standard ISO 3382-1/2

Speech Clarity

C50 or D

dB or %

ISO 3382-1/2

To objectively measure the acoustic conditions in an industrial space several room acoustic parameters have to be measured.

Sound level decrease

L

dB

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Effect of acoustical treatment with suspended ceiling and wall panels

It’s very important to keep in mind that acoustical treatment with acoustic suspended ceilings and wall absorbers in industrial spaces mainly influences the general noise level. The sound field normally consists of direct sound and a reverberant sound. The direct part reaches the operators ears without hitting the room surfaces. Thus, this part is not affected by the acoustic ceiling and wall panels. To decrease the direct sound you often have to use screens, hoods or changing the mechanical process that generates the sound. The sound level that originates from the reverberant sound will be affected by the absorbing ceiling and wall panels. A realistic goal concerning the reduction of the dB(A) level in the reverberant field by adding porous absorbers is in the region 5 to 10 dB(A). The perception of change in sound pressure level is given in table 2.

TABLE 2
Changes in sound level 1 dB Subjective perception Reduction or increase is hardly perceivable Reduction or increase is clearly perceivable Reduction or increase results in halving or doubling of perceived sound level

Only the noise that originates from the reverberant sound will be affected by the absorbing ceiling and wall panels.

5 dB

10 dB

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The effect of added absorption in an industrial space is illustrated in Figure 1. The effect of the acoustic treatment depends on the amount of absorption before treatment. In Figure 1 the effect of additional absorption is measured by the reverberation time. If the space is very reverberant and consequently has a long reverberation time, the effect of added absorption will be higher compared to a space with shorter reverberation time. Figure 1 refers to an industrial space with a volume of 2000 m3.

In Figure 2 below the effect of added absorption is calculated for an industrial space with floor area 250 m2 and for two different ceiling heights. The room without added absorbers is supposed to have a reverberation time of 2 seconds. The alpha w for the added absorbers is 0.95. When the amount of added absorbers exceeds the floor area it is assumed that the absorbers are attached to the walls.

8

10 4s 9 8

Sound level reduction dB

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 50 100 150 200 250

Sound level reduction dB

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 200 400 ceiling height 4.5 m, floor area 250 m2 ceiling height 8.0 m, floor area 250 m2 600 800 1000 1200

3s 2s

300

350

400

Added amount of absorbers (m2) alphaw=0.95 (Class A)

Added amount of absorbers (m2).

Figure 1. The effect of added absorbers on the sound level in a room with a volume of 2000 m3. The figures in the diagram refer to the reverberation time before acoustical treatment. Figure 2. The sound reduction in an industrial space with a floor area of 250 m2 and for two different ceiling heights.

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4

10 9 8

2

stdev

Sound level reduction dB

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 200 400 600 ceiling height 4.5 m, floor area 500 m2 ceiling height 8m, floor area 500 m2 800 1000 1200 1600 1400 1800

1,5

1

0,5

Added amount of absorbers (m2).

0

125

250

500

1K

2K

4K

[Hz]

Figure 3. The sound reduction in an industrial space with a floor area of 500 m2 and for two different ceiling heights.

Figure 4. Reverberation time for the octave-band frequencies 125 to 4000 Hz measured in a food factory before acoustic treatment

It’s common in industrial spaces that the reverberation time at low frequencies is lower than the reverberation time at high frequencies. This is illustrated in figure 4. The factory in this case is a food producer and the volume of the space is 5760 m3. This also means that acoustic treatment with porous absorbers will be very efficient since there is a lot of high frequency energy that will be absorbed by the absorbing ceiling and wall panels.

It’s not uncommon in industrial spaces that the reverberation time at low frequencies are lower than the reverberation time at high frequencies.

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Acoustic design with wall panels
From an acoustic point of view it’s often advantageous to locate the absorbing material as close to the noise sources as possible. In this case an acoustic wall panel may be useful. If there is a risk for mechanical impact the panel could be protected by a cage. Normally, the wall panels works as a complement to a suspended ceiling.

Positioning of wall panels
The reduction of sound pressure level is related to the amount of absorbing material that is added to the room. When reducing sound pressure, the location of absorbers is of minor importance. However, when we are concerned with reducing reverberation time and improving speech clarity the distribution of the absorbers is important. Even a small quantity of wall panels in a room with absorbent ceiling could have a great influence on reverberation time and speech clarity. It’s preferable to cover two adjacent walls with panels rather than two parallel walls to have the greatest effect on reducing reverberation within a room.

The reduction of sound pressure level is related to the amount of absorbing material that is added to the room.

Field study
In the appendix the effect of acoustic treatment with a suspended ceiling and wall panels is shown for a factory building.

The effect of acoustic treatment with a suspended ceiling and wall panels is shown for a factory building.

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Case Study: Oatly Health Products Facility

Oatly manufacture lactose-free oat based drinks that are consumed as a healthy alternative to milk. The company prides itself on its entrepreneurial spirit, curiosity and friendliness, often welcoming visitors to their factory located in Landskrona, Sweden. However, as with most industrial processes, the production facilities were noisy which was creating welfare issues for both staff and visitors. Employee issues:

Table 1
Property Designation Parameter Explanation Speed at which sound disappears. A shorter reverberation time means that the room is perceived as more damped.

Reverberance

EDT, T20

Early decay time (s), Reverberation time (s)

> Complaints from employees about the noise level > Use of hearing protection limited conversation and
observations within teams
Speech clarity

C50, D, RASTI Sound strength L

Speech Clarity (dB), Definition (%), RASTI Sound level decrease (dB)

Measure the perception of speech in a room. If these values increase the speech intelligibility increases Measure the decrease in sound pressure level

> Increased stress levels made it hard to relax when at home > Some employees reported disturbed sleep Room
Oatly’s factory in Landskrona, Sweden. Volume: BxLxH= 9m x 27m x 6m=1458 m3

Activity
Machinery (conveyor belt) food packaging.

Acoustic design
To lower the general noise in the room and to create more favourable Acoustics, Hygiene Performance 20mm tiles were attached to the ceiling (complete coverage) and Hygiene Performance 40 mm to areas on three walls (see photo).

Room acoustic measurements
Before acoustic treatment the environment was judged as noisy with difficulties perceiving speech and having a conversation. The main purpose of the room acoustic measurements was to establish the effect of the acoustic treatment on noise level and speech intelligibility. Table 1 shows the room acoustic parameters measured. A brief explanation of the parameters is also given in the table.

Figure 1. Placement of ceiling and wall absorbers in Oatly factory premises.

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Table 2 shows the average values of the room acoustic parameters for the octave band 500 Hz and 1000 Hz. According to ISO 3382-1 this average is suitable as a representative value for the room acoustic parameters. The values are given before and after acoustic treatment. In appendix 1 the values are given for the octave band 63 Hz to 4000 Hz.

Extra action
As an additional measure to improve the acoustics in certain areas of the factory the wall absorber Ecophon Advance Protection C3 was used. The wall absorbers were mounted in the “corridor” between the long walls and machines, see Figure 2. The tiles were placed at head height and mounted in a grid for protection against mechanical damage. The purpose of the absorbers is to reduce the high noise levels caused by multiple reflections between the wall and machine.

Table 2
Property Reverberance T20 (s) Decrease in Sound Strength L (dB) C50 (dB) Speech clarity Parameter EDT (s) Before treatment 2,4 s After treatment 0,63 s 0,62 s 5 dB 3,7 dB 70 % 0,70 (good)

The noise level was measured at three positions along the corridor before and after installation of the wall absorbers and show a decrease in dB (A) level of between 1 and 3 dB.

2,4 s
-2,9 dB

D (%) RASTI

34 % 0,47 (poor/fair)

Results
Table 2 shows that after the acoustic treatment, the noise level (general noise) in the room dropped by about 5 dB. Before treatment the general noise level in the room was in the region 81-84 dB(A) (Industrial Health measurements 090831). After treatment the general noise level dropped to about 77 dB(A) which means that the levels are below the action values according to Arbetsmiljöverket set (AFS 2005:16). The values of speech perception also show a clear improvement. One reason for this is that the influence of so-called late reflections in the room has been reduced. Also the reverberation times decreased significantly. In the vicinity of some machines, the noise level is still above 80 dB(A). This is because the direct sound from the machines dominate. Direct sound is not affected by the ceiling and wall absorbers, but must be addressed with direct measures of the sound source such as encapsulation or enclosure. Examples of spontaneous comments from staff after acoustic treatment were: > easier to hear what is said > easier to detect where the sound comes from > nice not having to wear hearing protection > not so tired when I get home, sleep better

Figure 2. Wall absorber Advance Protection C3 placed at head height along the walkways.

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Appendix 1 – Results of measurements before and after

Measurement results in octave bands before and after treatment

EDT (s)

T20 (S)

2,5

3 2,5

Early decay time (s)

Reverberation (S)
63 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000

2

2 1,5 1 0,5 0

1,5

1 0,5

0

63

125

250

500

1000

2000

4000

Frequency (Hz)

Frequency (Hz)

EDT (S) Before

EDT (S) After

T20 (S) Before

T20 (S) After

EDT [s] Before 63 After Before 63

T20 [s] After

1,0 1,3 1,8 2,3 2,4 1,9 1,6

1,2 0,9 0,7 0,6 0,6 0,6 0,7

1,6 1,7 2,0 2,5 2,4 1,9 1,7

1,5 1,1 0,8 0,6 0,6 0,6 0,6

125 250 500 1000 2000 4000

125 250 500 1000 2000 4000

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L (dB)

C50 (dB)

Reduction in Sound Pressure (dB)

7 6 5

5 4 3

Speech Clarity dB

4 3 2 1 0

2 1 0 -1 -2

63

125

250

500

1000

2000

4000

63

125

250

500

1000

2000

4000 -3 -4

Frequency (Hz)
AL [dB]

Frequency (Hz)
C50 (dB) Before C50 (dB) After

ΔL [dB]

63
125

1,5

2,0 2,2 5,8 4,7 4,1 3,5 1,6
63 Before

C50 [dB] After

250 500 1000 2000 4000 4000

3,0 0,1 -2,0 -3,4 -2,5 -1,9 -1,1

0,6 1,6 2,6 3,6 3,8 3,1 2,4

125 250 500 1000 2000 4000

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