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Manchester Central (M2 3GX)

28/02/2018 - 01/03/2018

Industry 4.0, the 4th industrial revolution, smart manufacturing, digital factories…these are (more)

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Sound advice on noise

Sound advice on noise

Energy chains and cable management systems are one of many sources of vibrations and noise, and although not a major contributor, if a machine builder needs to reduce the levels by a few per cent to comply with the Machinery Directive, then the energy chain could make all the difference. Justin Leonard of Igus reviews the latest polymer energy chain technologies, which are enabling machines to operate more smoothly and quietly.

In its simplest definition audible noise is unwanted sound energy traveling through the air that we can hear. More often than not it is produced by things that vibrate. In the production environment not only is noise a concern for the operator but the vibrations can have a significant effect on the quality of the work.

Noise is an important issue in a plant, and machinery must be designed and constructed so that any risks resulting from the emission of airborne noise are reduced to their lowest level. There are two different types of measurement: sound pressure and sound power. Sound pressure is essentially how loud the sound appears to the ear and the measurements are weighted to simulate the hearing response of the ear - a reduction of 3dB(A) sounds like a 50% reduction in the noise level to the human ear. However, sound power is the total amount of sound energy that the equipment radiates into the environment and remains unweighted.

The European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC requires measurement and declaration of A-weighted sound pressure at workstations where this exceed 70dB(A). Where this level does not exceed 70dB(A), this fact must be indicated. Where this A-weighted level exceeds 80dB(A), sound power must also be measured and declared. A value for peak C-weighted instantaneous sound pressure value at workstations must also be declared where this exceeds 63Pa (130dB in relation to 20µPa).

A recent NOMAD project, which was run by the EU to look at the reporting of noise emission in user instructions of machinery and equipment, found that a staggering 80% of the manuals did not conform to the requirements of the Machinery Directive. This was either because the noise information required was missing, not credible or unsuitably reported. The project was conducted on about 1500 machines in 40 families from 800 manufacturers.

Machinery must be designed and constructed so that any risks resulting from the emission of airborne noise are reduced to their lowest level. Energy chains are often overlooked as a source of noise and, in addition to the energy chain itself, the running surface, the dynamics and the cable and hose package play a vital role in overall noise generation.

Conventional energy chains use a pin and bore connection system, which allows relative movement between the joints. However, in recent years Igus has developed noise optimised e-chains that replace the conventional pin and bore connection with an abrasion resistant spring element. To date, Igus has a number of energy chains that are especially designed to operate quietly and with minimal vibration, for example, its E3, T3, E4 and E6 Series e-chains.

Igus has received an official certificate by the Rhineland Technical Inspection Authority (TÜV Rhineland Berlin-Brandenburg) for testing and self-certification of its energy chains and in tests has proven that for the same application conditions (fill weight, chain length, speed and acceleration) noise can be reduced by up to 31dB(A) compared to traditional chains. For the E3 e-chain, long-term tests in the Igus acoustic laboratory showed reductions of 19-20db(A) compared with standard
e-chains, measured at a speed of 1.8m/s and an acceleration of 3m/s2. Just recently, the Igus E61.29

e-chain underwent noise testing in the Igus lab and demonstrated a noise level reduction of 2dB(A) below the already class-leading noise level of the igus E6.29 e-chain.

Through installing high quality, quiet e-chains and flexible cables and hoses from a supplier that can provide sound advice and guidance, machine builders can lower noise levels significantly. Machine builders can benefit from providing a comprehensive noise emission declaration, according to the Machinery Directive, while enabling the purchaser to select quieter machines. With a high degree of transparency on the machinery market machine operators can only gain to benefit.

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