Mapping the sources
For this study, Dabirian proposed a framework to predict the noise levels of a modular construction manufacturing factory with the support of probability-based modeling. They conducted their study at a factory in Edmonton, Alberta, over a period of 13 days. Thanks to the presence and operation of typical construction factory equipment such as air compressors, cutting machines, conveyors, hammering, nailing and so on, the acoustic condition of the modular construction factory was very complicated, she notes.
Using statistical modelling and geometrical acoustical simulations, they then calculated and assessed overall noise levels and generated a noise map. They were able to compare the noise exposure levels to the existing provincial and federal guidelines to evaluate the risk faced by the factory workers.
“The model that was developed integrates machine learning techniques and simulation approaches to help predict workers' noise exposure during working hours,” says Dabirian. “The proposed model could be used as a managerial tool to improve occupational health and safety in the workplace, specifically modular construction factories.”
“Noise study is only used on the safety side now, but we expect that noise levels also relate to workers’ performance and overall productivity at the plant,” adds Lee. “By optimizing the factory’s layout based on noise information, a company can reduce noise exposure to workers without sacrificing productivity.”
A booming market
The study’s co-authors cite statistics from other researchers saying 43 per cent of Canadian workers have been in noisy workplaces and 56 per cent were vulnerable to workplace noise.
They further note that the modular construction industry is growing rapidly. With applications in commercial, residential, health-care and educational sectors, it has a global market value that is expected to reach nearly $175 billion by 2025 from an estimated $111 billion in 2018. Studies by the McKinsey Global Institute state that modular construction can reduce construction and overall lifetime costs by 20 per cent and construction schedules by up to 50 per cent, at the same time improving construction quality and energy and seismic performance.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Development programsupported this research.
Read the cited paper: “Stochastic-based noise exposure assessment in modular and off-site construction.”