Drying towers

The Client

Wyeth Nutrition operate a food manufacturing plant in Limerick which manufactures infant nutrition products that are supplied to customers all over the world. The company have an excellent relationship with the local community and source the majority of their supplies from the surrounding area. The team at the plant also work closely with the EPA to ensure that the factory operates at extremely high environmental standards. When the company received a noise complaint from a neighbouring property, they took it very seriously and asked Sonitus Systems to help them understand and resolve the problem. With multiple machines and processes running at all times of the day there was a huge number of possible noise sources to be investigated, something that would take extensive time and effort with manual measurements.

Challenges and Requirements

  • Recurring noise complaint from a neighbouring property
  • 24 hour operations with multiple pieces of outdoor equipment
  • High hygiene standards for all equipment, limiting potential noise reduction options
  • Client needed identification of noise source and understanding of how to reduce the noise impact
  • Rotating equipment schedules and varying weather made manual measurement difficult

Our Approach

We understand that solving noise complaints can be a little different than just sound level measurement. Wyeth Nutrition understood that too and were determined to do more than just assess the sound levels; they wanted to understand the cause of the complaint and develop a way to address the problem. Our experience in the industry and a broad range of skills allowed us to provide the equipment, tools and advice to make that happen. We like to work in partnership with our customers and their existing partners to solve problems, which means taking input from all sides and finding the best solution.

The environmental team at Wyeth explained in detail how their plant operates. Large dryers and fan equipment operate all day to produce their infant food products. The four dryers are housed in 40m towers with fan openings and exhausts on top. The dryers are subject to strict hygiene standards and controls, meaning there were limited options for installing acoustic baffles or noise reduction technology. They had estimated the cost of retrofitting a solution as being in the region of €100,000, which far exceeded their budget. The team needed a solution that would work within these constraints and still allow them to reduce the noise impact for their neighbour.

Wyeth worked with a third party acoustic consultant that we collaborated with right from the start. Our team worked with them to see what information they needed and what the project budget was. We also went along to speak to Wyeth’s neighbour, to fully understand the noise complaint. The issue was a low level hum that occurred at different times of the day, but went on for hours each time. This allowed us to build up a complete picture of the problem and what tools were needed to find a solution.

Our Solution

Wyeth Nutrition deployed two EM2010 Sound Level Monitors for a two week period. One was placed on site, at the drying towers and another at the home of their neighbour. They powered them up and the equipment took care of the rest. Continuous sound level readings were automatically taken at short intervals for the full two weeks, recording all relevant sound level measurements and statistics. No manual effort was needed, either from the environmental staff or their neighbour. Sound levels and equipment performance were both monitored remotely 24 hours a day.

The environmental team also monitored all weather conditions, while their neighbour kept a log of any noisy activities. This allowed them to build up a complete picture of the sound levels on site and at the neighbouring property with the minimum amount of effort.

The comprehensive sound level records allowed the contribution of each dryer to be assessed individually. Peak sound levels at the neighbouring property were compared to readings from the plant and detailed operational logs identified which piece of equipment was causing issues. Our analysis tools identified repeated patterns in sound level trends which were then matched to a specific piece of equipment. The team were able to clearly detect which one of their four dryers resulted in peak sound levels at the property and was causing the complaints. They were able to quickly recommend a change in operating schedules that would ensure that equipment was not used during night time periods or times when their neighbours were sensitive to noise impacts. Wyeth were able to work with their neighbours to manage the impact their operations and had no requirement for an expensive retrofit.

Customer Benefits

  • Operational solution with no need for capital expenditure
  • Reduced expenditure on measurement campaign due to automation
  • Clear steps to predict noise impact and manage complaints
  • Detailed understanding of noise emissions of operations and equipment
  • Collaborative and successful engagement with local community