If you’ve ever stood nearby an empty manufacturing cart train as it coasted by at about five miles per hour, you have an appreciation for how pervasive and disturbing factory noise can be.
Noise reduction, when it comes to manufacturing, can be serious business. A modest reduction in noise can lead to big benefits in terms of reducing employee downtime, increased productivity, and measurable financial benefits.
Caster manufacturers have long been called upon to help material handling engineers and cart manufacturers solve the noise-reduction puzzle. Achieving success requires a critical collaboration of plant safety engineers, cart fabricators and caster companies. Working together as a team, our singular focus, and eventual success, revolves around a significant reduction in the levels of decibels – the unit of measure that delineates the power of sound.
Let’s take a broader look at decibels, and look at how decibel levels and length of exposure can lead to catastrophic results for manufacturing workers. Any sound level above 85 decibels (dB) has been demonstrated to cause hearing loss. Eight hours of exposure to 90 dB can cause damage to your ears. Anything above 140 dB can cause immediate damage. Putting things in perspective:
• Normal conversations generally are measured at 60 dB.
• A lawn mower puts out 90 dB.
• A jet engine typically generates 120 dB.
Just thinking about my own personal experiences — I have been in plants where an empty cart train has been recorded at a whopping 103 dB. But what if I told you that simply through changing casters, we could reduce the noise output to 83 dB?
Caster composition, in short, can have the greatest impact on noise, for the most economical investment. Let’s look at the three ways that manufacturers typically work to reduce noise:
1. Flooring. Plants can improve results by replacing old floors with new epoxied floors. This can help but at a high price ranging into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
2. Resins. Cart fabricators can add resins or dampening material to their carts reducing vibrations. This can helps but does not make significant changes.
3. Casters. The casters can be changed at a lesser cost but can produce significant gains in noise reduction.
At Caster Concepts, we have three weapons in our arsenal to do battle against dangerous decibels. We have produced softer wheels, using different polymers; we offer spring-loaded casters; and finally, our newest technology, CasterShoX® – a patented process that provides economic shock absorption which is integrated into the core of the wheel.