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08. November 2007

Need To Reduce Workplace Noise Levels? Start With Your Vibrators

Wyoming, RI - Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a significant, prevalent, and expensive industrial disease. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about 30,000,000 US workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise in the workplace each year.

A Brief History of the VIBCO Silent Pneumatic Turbine Vibrator

In the late 1960’s, US automakers recognized the dangers and negative business impacts of high levels of workplace noise. One area of focus was vibration equipment used in automotive metal stamping plants. So the automakers challenged the vibration industry to come up with a quiet alternative

to the extremely loud pneumatic ball vibrators used on chutes in these plants. However, while the automakers sought to eliminate unsafe vibrator noise, they needed a solution that produced the same force and frequency of ball vibrators to ensure consistent material flow. All of the major players in the vibration industry immediately began working to solve the vibrator noise problem.

Ted Wadensten, founder of VIBCO Vibrators, was one vibration engineer who responded to the automakers’ challenge.

“We tried all kinds of crazy ideas to reduce the noise made by the ball in the race of the vibrator – but nothing worked. A ball vibrator’s engineering guarantees that there will always be a tremendous amount of noise produced, no matter what materials or configurations are used. So we decided to try something that had never been done before. We thought that off-set weighting a gear or some other spinning wheel might work. We never imagined just how on-target our idea was until we perfected the design and were able to produce the same frequency and force as the ball vibrator with almost zero noise.”

After perfecting the new quieter vibrator, Wadensten sought and was awarded a US Patent for the design of the VIBCO Silent Pneumatic Turbine Vibrator and VIBCO officially became the home of “The Silent Vibrator Guys!” What began as a challenge from a single industry translated into VIBCO’s enduring mission to design and produce the most effective and quietest vibrators on the market. That mission drives research and development efforts at VIBCO to this day and makes the reduction of workplace noise exposure a critical part of the company’s strategic vision.

Noise is a Serious and Costly Occupational Hazard The negative business impact of noise is significant. Direct costs of workers’ compensation claims and the expense of hearing conservation programs can be staggering. Some estimates indicate that hearing conservation programs alone cost US companies approximately $200-$250 per employee annually. Perhaps even more impactful, though, are the indirect costs of decreased productivity and low employee morale; increased absenteeism; and poor communication.

Industrial and construction vibrators are used by facilities and operations spanning more than 600 different SIC codes. While effective and often essential material flow aids, vibrators are frequently a major source of occupational noise exposure and hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the permanent end result of repeated exposure to sounds that are both too intense and too long in duration.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) views NIHL as a serious industrial hazard and has developed a set of regulations and aspects of a hearing conservation program. It is important to note that the single, most effective way to eliminate noise-induced hearing loss is to eliminate the sources of industrial noise whenever possible. Eliminating the source of the noise makes all other aspects of a hearing conservation program unnecessary.

Replacing Old Vibrators With VIBCO Silent Pneumatic Turbine Vibrators Will Reduce Noise Replacing old-style pneumatic ball vibrators and pneumatic piston vibrators with VIBCO Silent Pneumatic Turbine Vibrators is one way to eliminate a significant source of workplace noise. The chart below illustrates the noise production of VIBCO Silent Pneuamtic Turbine Vibrators compared to equivalent ball vibrators and piston vibrators. Notice that all VIBCO pneumatic turbines operate below the OSHA 80 dB noise threshold. Additionally, while VIBCO Pneumatic Turbines maintain 70-78 dBs throughout their entire product life, ball-style and piston-style vibrators will actually increase the volume of their noise output over time. In fact, ball vibrators’ noise sharply increases after just a short time in operation as the ball and race become pitted and worn from the ball “jumping” during each pass over the air inlet.

While VIBCO Silent Turbine Vibrators have a higher initial purchase price than comparable ball vibrators and piston vibrators, they cost less to operate and maintain. Maintenance costs are lower because VIBCO turbine vibrators are prelubricated for life, have lower air consumption, and require little or no maintenance throughout the product life. When operation and maintenance savings are added to reduced need for hearing conservation programs, the reduction in workers’ compensation claims and other noise-injury-associated costs, the installation and use of pneumatic turbine vibrators is an attractive, affordable and effective noise reduction solution.

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