The high-speed servers, at Andrew Corporation’s Wollongong R&D facility, are used primarily to design, develop, deploy and support wireless location systems, which equip telecommunications companies to pinpoint mobile phones geographically and to inform appropriate parties such as emergency services.
Andrew Corporation chose to showcase the massive array of machines to those in the adjacent meeting room, which is used for training and client briefings. But, as they found, much of the 85dB(A) ruckus put out by the 500 cooling fans built into the front row of racks went around the glass barrier, making normal conversation difficult.
Called in to help, Soundguard’s Mario Taddeo found that some obvious approaches were denied him. “We obviously couldn’t cover the glass with soundproofing; although we could and did, seal gaps around the complete periphery of the glass partition wall and doors,” Mario reports. “We also provided an acoustic barrier using 4Kg per square metre Wavebar Quadzero in the false ceiling. But we couldn’t do the same with the false floor, not only because the cabling there had to remain readily accessible, but also because cooling air for the server room had to pass unhindered through this void.”
Maintaining cooling is critical in machines testing that the strict criteria set by the Federal Communications Commission in the US, where many of the systems worldwide have so far been deployed, will be met, including 99.999% uptime, in the demanding process of pinpointing every 911 caller as the emergency operator takes each call.
“Instead, to prevent the noise finding a path to the meeting room via this space, we lined the underside of the 55 removable 400 x 400mm tiles that make up the false floor with a 25mm thick layer of Sorberfoam PU,” says Mario.
“We could do more, but our approach is to take on the problem in stages to avoid costly over-designing.” In this, as in other, cases, the approach proved very cost-effective for Andrew Corporation.
The server noise now getting through to the interview room has been measured at 53dB(A), down 12 decibels from the previous 65dB(A) measured in there. On an illustrative decibel scale for the layperson, 52dB(A) is labelled the 'quiet restaurant' level. By comparison, the same scale, published online by the US Department of Transportation’s Highway Research Center, puts the original sound level in the server room, at just 5 decibels lower than the 'jet aircraft at 300m' level.
“In fact,” Mario adds, “the success has exposed the air conditioning as a noise source previously masked by the server fan noise.” But the client is satisfied with the noise reduction achieved. As Andrew Corporations’ David Dodds says, “Noise in the training/briefing room used to impact meetings. The Soundguard acoustic work done by Pyrotek resulted in a significant improvement. Staff have commented on the improvements, indicating that the room is now satisfactory for the types of meetings held there. Feedback from colleagues is the best proof that the work has been successful.”
Mario concludes: “We’re proud to have been of service to the Aussie team who developed this smart wireless location technology, which we understand has huge potential even apart from emergency services. For example, I’m told it isn’t far off when the technology will be used to advise mobile phone users looking for a product where to find their nearest stockist. When Australia’s Telco’s get around to that, the nation’s noise-annoyed will, we’re sure, beat an easier path to Pyrotek’s door as the source of soundproofing solutions in the country.”