How a problem for the construction industry became an opportunity to innovate
As an acoustic consultant I’m often part of large multi-disciplinary teams working on major infrastructure projects in New South Wales.
One main area we advise on is the prediction and assessment of noise as an outcome of construction. Government regulators require construction professionals to report on the anticipated outcomes of construction from a noise impact perspective. This assessment is often compulsory to get a permit for planned works.
Throughout my career, I have worked on several large infrastructure projects that have required me to run frequent construction noise assessments.
For non-acoustic professionals, here’s how the process works. We’ll often have a construction professional contact us to get a noise assessment drawn up. The briefing will include details of the planned works and the what, when, how and why of the project will be discussed.
The assessment will usually include a description of the proposed works, show the types of equipment to be used, what the noise goals are, the sensitive receivers and the recommendations for noise mitigation and management.
At peak times, producing these assessments back-to-back can become a full-time job for consultants, sometimes lasting for months on end. The frequency of these may be different depending on the type of work being carried out with variables including geographic location, different machinery being used and changes in the brief, usually by the engineer. Any changes to the construction method along the way requires an updated assessment.
For construction professionals this can end up being extremely time consuming and costly for the project. For an acoustic consultant, it often means ‘dropping tools’ at a moment’s notice to run a noise assessment, pulling us away from more strategic project work. As most acoustic consultants would know, these assessments can be repetitive and incorporate many low-level tasks.
It got me thinking that there must be a better way.
After another day of writing-up yet another noise assessment, I came up with a solution that would harness the acoustic expertise we provide but give control back to the contractor to run the predictions themselves.
I set about scaling-up my coding skills and started building a web-based tool on evenings and weekends, which I now call Noisecheck.
Noisecheck is a visual online tool which uses 3D acoustic modelling to allow construction professionals to predict, assess and manage noise impacts themselves, without the need for an acoustic consultant to run the assessment. It generates a fast and reliable noise activity report in real-time, giving construction project managers control and saving the project time and money.
When a client signs up to Noisecheck, we pre-populate the tool with the client’s project including databases such as noise goals, land uses, active construction zones and all project specific information based off the Management Plan. When construction kicks off, the client is then able to run full construction noise assessments for day-to-day routine works, without the need and cost of an acoustic consultant.
The new technology is currently being used at construction sites in New South Wales. We’re finding our clients are especially valuing the tool for out-of-hours work approvals – it’s helped our clients save time and money by being able to just log onto the website themselves to generate a noise assessment report.