Machines mounted on large hard surfaces can generate noise when they vibrate. Use these strategies to help you reduce noise levels caused by vibration.

How can you reduce vibration and noise effectively?

Select appropriate spring or vibration isolators

This can minimise the transmission of noise caused by vibration from the machine. 

Mount vibrating machines on heavy surfaces

  • Heavy surfaces, such as concrete will vibrate less and radiate quieter noise levels than a lightweight surface such as steel.
  • Choose perforated surfaces over solid panels to reduce vibration.
  • Instead of built-in machines, make sure your machine has one or two free edges that are not touching another surface. Free edges radiate less noise.

Maintain machinery regularly

Regularly maintaining or upgrading your machinery is one of the easiest ways to reduce vibration and noise. You can:

  • Upgrade old machinery to a newer, quieter model.
  • Replace damaged components.
  • Replace worn or slippery drive belts.
  • Fix unbalanced rotating shafts.
  • Use damping techniques on blades.
  • Keep nuts and bolts secured.

When maintaining machinery, evaluate:

  • whether the machine or equipment was quieter in the past
  • your processes to see if they can be improved
  • the materials used for managing noise levels
  • the operating conditions (for example, machines used in high temperatures can breakdown quicker
  • vibration levels and compare them with baseline vibration levels to check if your materials are still effective. An acoustic engineer can help you measure vibration levels for your machine. 

A good maintenance programme can also help to:

  • make sure your machine is still efficient 
  • increase the working life of your machine
  • reduce overall wear and tear
  • prevent loss of production.

What materials are used for vibration control?

Vibration control measures use viscoelastic materials to reduce noise. Viscoelastic materials resist movement and can revert back to their original form if stretched. The type of material you use will depend on the:

  • surface the machine is mounted on
  • frequency of the vibration
  • size and weight of the equipment or machine
  • the environmental conditions of your workplace such as weather conditions, and temperature.

Elastic materials such as rubber or neoprene are more effective at reducing vibration than springs because they absorb more impact energy. Springs generate vibration and noise caused by absorbing impact. Use rubber inserts between the spring and the machine surface to minimise noise generated.

Think about the environment where the material will be used:

  • Rubber is less effective in oily or sunny environments. 
  • Flexible materials like foam rubber, mineral wool and cork start losing their shape after long periods of time. 
  • If you work with hazardous substances, your material should be fire and chemical resistant.

Even though a large, flat vibrating surface can act as a sounding board for radiated noise, there may be other noise sources you need to consider. If you need help identifying which surfaces would benefit from the use of viscoelastic materials, or other noise reduction techniques, contact a competent person(external link) such as an acoustic engineer or an occupational hygienist.