We were recently called in to help with controlling the noise levels at an engine test facility. I went to the site to take noise measurements in various areas of the facility. The problem was not within the test cells, but from all the external equipment needed to run the cells from air compressors, to dynamometer drives, to engine exhaust vents. The sound levels were not above the OSHA requirements but were definitely loud enough to warrant some noise mitigation. So what are the key considerations for industrial facility noise control?

When dealing with industrial noise mitigation, if possible, the goal is to control the noise at the source by modifying the equipment itself or replacing it with a quieter model. However, in this case the problem wasn’t necessarily any one piece of equipment, but the overall effect of all the equipment running at the same time. When you can’t modify the equipment itself, the next best options are to block and absorb the sound. For this application, we recommended both. Blocking the sound was fairly straight forward. The supporting equipment for the test cells was primarily on the 2nd floor of the facility. By closing off most of the 2nd floor, the sound levels on the 1st floor could be significantly reduced. An acoustical ceiling solution for the 1st floor was also recommended, to further improve the acoustical environment. Where it wasn’t possible to close off the 2nd floor, we recommended noise isolation enclosures around specific equipment. These enclosures have absorptive material facing the equipment to help absorb and block the sound.

Although each industrial facility presents a unique set of challenges, the basic strategies are the same: control the noise at the source, block the noise, and absorb the noise.

At Acoustics By Design, we design comprehensive noise control solutions for industrial facilities of all kinds. Our professional engineers provide recommendations that solve even the most complex noise issues.

Melinda Miller

Melinda Miller brings her passion for all things sound and 20 years of experience to her role as Principal Engineer of ABD Engineering & Design. Her expertise includes diagnosing and preventing noise problems, designing acoustically optimized environments, and using evidence-based design practices. Melinda has consulted on projects involving architectural acoustics, noise isolation, mechanical noise control, and occupational noise exposure. Her experience includes higher education, K-12 schools, performance and worship spaces, healthcare facilities, industrial facilities, hotel and multi-family residential buildings. A Professional Acoustical Engineer, licensed by the State of Oregon, Melinda earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Idaho, and Master’s from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She has continued her education and training, earning her INCE Board Certification (INCE Bd. Cert.), Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC), and LEED AP BD+ C. As an Assistant Professor of Acoustics for Columbia College, she taught undergraduate junior and senior level classes in HVAC design, vibrations, acoustical testing, building noise control, and musical acoustics. Melinda has chaired sessions on various topics at Noise-con and Inter-noise since 2013, and has served INCE as the Co-Chair of Building Acoustics Technical Activities committee, on the Certification Board, and the Board of Directors (2021-2024). Likewise, she has presented technical papers and education sessions for the Acoustical Society of America, the American Institute of Architects, and the Chicago Chapter of the Audio Engineering Society.

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