Noise is a fluctuation in air pressure that leads to a high sound level that affects the body. Also indicating unwanted sound, noise is an integral part of any manufacturing industry that should be regulated and controlled due to its risks. This is especially important in industrial part marking as marking systems specialists are constantly exposed to a high level of sound during the marking process.
Industrial part marking comprises different marking systems such as laser, inkjet, chemical etching, and dot peening, each with its noise level. Of the numerous marking systems, dot peening has a high probability of generating noise due to its mechanism of marking. Since every part marking system must be adequately noise regulated to improve efficiency and effectiveness, this article will help you gain control over industrial part marking noise by introducing different methods that you can use. Read on.
What are the Regulated Noise Level Standards for Industrial Part Marking?
Before you know the several methods you can use to control industrial part marking noise, you should know about the regulated noise level standards. Sound is measured in decibels, and any sound that reaches 85 decibels or higher is considered noise and can harm a person’s ears. Generally, the manufacturing industry generates noise at a different level of intensity. However, there is are regulations based on two organizations the part marking industry should follow:
Noise Level Standard According to Occupational Safety and Health Act
According to the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act), the noise exposure time guidelines recommend that noise intensity should not be above 90 decibels for eight hours a day. This level is the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), and it rises as exposure time diminishes. For example, the PEL is 195 decibels after 4 hours and 115 decibels after 15 minutes.
Noise Level Standard According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
According to new research, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established its exposure recommendations after eight hours at 85 decibels. NIOSH uses a reduced exchange rate of 3 decibels. Therefore, at 15 minutes, the regulatory limit of exposure would be 100 decibels.
Both standards are used industrially and applicable to industrial part marking. However, noise limits can also range from country to country. For example, the European Directive 2003/10/EC has a maximum level of 87 decibels, while Norway and Denmark have put the limit at 85 decibels. You should, therefore, ensure you follow your country’s standards.
What Are the Risks of Industrial Noise?
Operators working with a pin marking system might be exposed to about 100 decibels due to the process’s mechanism of action. Effects of such a high noise level can be physical, mental, or psychological. Below are the risks of industrial noise in part marking system.
· Loss of Hearing
In extreme cases, it is possible for operators working part marking processes to develop hearing loss. This occurs due to the eardrum damage or other ear parts caused by repeated and extended exposure to noise. Hearing loss is disastrous because no medical procedure can restore permanent hearing loss.
· Temporary Loss of Hearing
Also, exposure to a high noise level can cause a temporary loss of hearing. This is evident in the ear becoming stuffed up, ringing, or buzzing while straining to hear other people. Therefore, there is a shortage in communication and concentration.
· Lower Efficiency or Productivity
Noise pollution due to part marking can lead to operators being unable to operate at maximum capacity. This can be due to stress or due to hearing loss. Consequently, there is a lower efficiency resulting in lower production.
Due to the risk associated with noise, industrial part marking companies are required by law to report any injuries caused by harmful noise. If employees believe their hearing has been impaired on the job, they can put forward a complaint. In some areas, petition for workers’ compensation benefits.
How Do You Know If There is Noise During Part Marking?
To successfully use any industrial part marking process while keeping your staff safe, you need to know if there is noise during the marking process. Answer the questions developed by OSHA to figure out if noise is an issue in your production.
· Question #1: Do you hear a buzzing or jingling sound during marking?
This is applicable in any marking system. When marking a product, you should regulate and control the noise level if you hear buzzing or jingling sounds.
· Question #2: Have you ever lost the ability to hear briefly?
This is also applicable to any marking system. If you have lost your sense of hearing for a brief period during marking, you are exposed to noise, and you should regulate the noise level.
· Question #3: Do you need to shout to communicate with another worker three feet away?
A high noise level will prevent you from hearing others. Therefore, if you need to shout when communicating with another worker three feet from you, you need to control the noise level.
· Question #4: Have you gotten a noise level test that shows decibel levels beyond the permissible limit?
If you use a professional noise level test, such as the Noise Level Meter App, and you get a decibel level higher than the recommended one by OSHA and NIOSH, you should try to optimize the noise level.
If you check yes to any of the questions above, you should look for a way to optimize the industrial part marking noise. We will introduce several ways to do that in the next sections.
How To Control Industrial Noise in Part Marking?
Although any marking system can generate a high noise level, dot peen marking is the most common marking system associated with noise pollution. To control industrial part marking noise generally, there are several options you can use so that marking can be safe and efficient.
· Modify, Replace, or Fix the Marking Machine
If the current marking system is ideal for marking the workpiece, you can control the noise level by modifying, fixing, or replacing the marking machine.
Modification is cost-effective if you suspect it is a component of the marking machine responsible for the noise. It involves tweaking the component or the machine to work without producing much noise. For example, you can put an enclosure that reduces the noise level or use anti-vibration machine mountings.
Fixing is another plausible method if the noise occurs due to a faulty component—it involves getting a better component that works with the machine.
If none of these work, you can consider getting a better marking machine. You can check our catalogs on the best marking machine, whether laser, dot peening, or inkjet, that guarantees quality dot peen marking with low noise.
· Use Another Marking System
If the material is compatible with other processes, you can change the marking system to one that does not produce much noise.
For example, if using dot peen marking will generate noise above the regulated decibels, a common marking system operator use is scribe marking. A scribe is the most widely used low-noise replacement choice due to its similar mechanism of action. They function by making deep marks in the same way that dot peens do.
Scribers press a stylus into the material, whereas dot peen equipment uses a stylus that impacts the material as it moves through the part. Therefore, scribing is smoother and quieter, and it delivers a higher quality of marks, and you obtain clear and easily readable marks. Unlike pin markings, which have a dot pattern.
Other marking systems you can use include laser marking, chemical etching, and inkjet marking. However, using these methods must be based on compatibility with the material, efficient marking, and quality markings.
· Administrative control
You can use administrative control to enable adherence to the standard decibels. Below are a few things you can try according to OSHA’s guidelines.
- Operate noisy marking machines when fewer people are around. This will reduce the number of people exposed to a high level of noise
- Limit the time an operator spends on a noisy marking machine
- If you cannot do without the noisy marking machine, enclose it within a sound-insulating enclosure. You can also use anti-vibration machine mountings.
- Design a soundproof room to function as a quiet area where workers can recover from exposure to noisy marking machines. The duration spent in the room should depend on their noise level, duration of noise exposure, and time spent in the quiet area.
- Restrict people from noisy equipment, especially when they are just present but are not working with a noise source or equipment.
· Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs)
You can also reduce the noise by using hearing protection devices such as earplugs. Although they are effective, you should not use HPDs only to control noise exposure. They are only suitable after using other techniques. Below are a few things to note about HPDs.
- The best HPDs block the ears but are fitted with voice isolating features that blur the background noise. They should be able to get below 85 dB(A) at the ear but should not cut out too much noise so that operators will not feel isolated or unwilling to wear them.
- Only use protectors with noisy marking machines such as the dot peening machines. Other marking systems such as inkjet and laser marking systems might not need it.
- Select HPDs that are comfortable to wear with other protective equipment such as hard hats and eye protection, and hygiene
· Hearing Conservation Programs
Employers need to implement a hearing conservation program when the noise level of a worker is equal to or more than 15 decibels for an 8-hour exposure in a manufacturing facility. Regular noise sampling, notification of employees’ risk, training, and monitoring are all part of these plans.
- Do a noise sampling to identify the operators at risk from hazardous noise levels.
- Educate operators on the dangers of exposure to a high level of noise
- Provide the operators with the noise measurement conducted on the machine or the plant
- Ensure that there is a regular audiometric testing program (hearing tests) that provides a professional evaluation of the health effects of noise on the operator’s hearing.
- Ensure that there are comprehensive hearing protection follow-up procedures among operators with signs of hearing loss
- Ensure you properly select the HPDs based on individual fit and manufacturer’s quality testing.
- Train operators on the dangers of excessive noise exposure and how to use the hearing protection devices such as earplugs.
Each solution may assist in reducing sound exposure. However, they do not take care of the underlying problem. Therefore, we would recommend you replace the machine or the marking system
Find The Right Marking Solution for Better Noise Control
Your way of achieving better noise control should be secure and high standard. Of all the solutions, the most suitable options are replacing the marking machine or choosing a marking system that makes lower noise, such as the scribe or a pin marking system. Instead of worrying over noise control, you can also discuss how to properly manage industrial noise with professionals. Contact our team to know more about managing noise and the several machines you can use.