Noise modelling software is a useful tool for complex projects involving multiple noise sources and geometries, for planning new builds or when modifying existing installations. Combined with 2D or 3D noise contour maps, it is a powerful tool to understand and manage noise that can (emphasising "can") make for better, more informed decisions provided all the noise control options are included in the model.
Properly used: this can save very substantial sums of money.
There can, however, be problems...
"...retained as an expert witness in matters relating to the consideration of, and in some cases pursuit of, negligence claims against other acousticians. The common thread running through all these claims is a disappointing reliance on acoustic modeling software, without the essential underlying practitioner expertise." The inconvenient truth about models. Ed Clarke, Acoustics Bulletin, 2023
To get the most from noise modelling requires a comprehensive understanding of the wide range of innovative modern engineering noise control technology now available in addition to the conventional palliatives such as barriers, enclosures and silencers. Typically, these are the only options considered as this degree of expertise is uncommon...
The models can be accurate and precise - provided the data entered is accurate and the person creating the model understands the inherent limitations. GIGO very much applies...
Noise model applications
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We used 3D and 2D noise models to predict noise levels at nearby noise-sensitive receptors in the area surrounding this major production facility for a large number of very complex noise sources. These included combined heat and power units (CHPs), burners and boilers plus multiple pumps, fans and chillers. Noise from the site breached the local regulatory levels and had been the subject of multiple noise complaints over many years. The model data allowed us to rank the contributory noise sources accurately. We then used this ranking to generate the optimum, minimum-cost noise management programme based on innovative engineering noise control measures.
The result of combining computer modelling with engineering noise control expertise was that costly noise problems that had dragged on for years were resolved within a matter of months - and at a fraction of the expected cost.
Almost invariably, noise models are only used to assess the performance of the traditional palliative mitigation measures. We add the expertise to design and include the effects of the latest engineering source control technology.. that can be targeted more precisely to improve effectiveness and to cut costs.
Whereas the most common use of noise models is to predict and manage environmental noise, we also have the much more sophisticated technical capability to model and predict internal noise levels.
This can be applied to applications such as:-
Entire factory layouts can be modelled using advanced 3D simulation techniques to analyse room noise problems. The models can visually demonstrate which items of machinery are the controlling noise sources and where to focus the mitigation measures. The models can demonstrate the effectiveness of the noise control options to ensure they are targeted to create the optimal solutions that provide maximum return on investment.
This example illustrates a project to model the complex noise contours from multiple sources in an offshore facility to confirm that noise specifications would be met and that best practice noise control measures would be used.