Five years of growth ahead for the noise control market
Noise is an inevitable by-product of human activity, but when it reaches levels harmful to human or animal life it is internationally recognised as pollution. Airports and mining companies often face stiff resistance because of the noise pollution they might cause to residential areas. Sometimes the problem can be solved by locating facilities away from residential areas, but the harm done to their own workers remains.
In Australia, about 5000 employees are awarded compensation for deafness annually. However this is just the tip of the iceberg: in New South Wales alone, government figures estimate 2,500 of its 8 million residents suffer hearing damage every year.
Highways, data centres and many other industries rarely enjoy the luxury of distance – they need to be close to population centres. As the country’s strong industrial economy bounces back from COVID-19, better urban planning, combined with more effective industrial noise control solutions will be required to support growth and wellbeing. Otherwise, our quality of life will worsen and our economic opportunities will be compromised.
Noise Pollution Is Invisible
Only in the last twenty years has it been realised that long term noise pollution is just as dangerous as air, water and environmental pollution. Numerous investigations have now established beyond doubt that people living or working in high noise environments suffer from increased heart disease, chronic stress, depressive illnesses, and drug and alcohol dependencies.
Not all these connections are yet fully understood although most seem fairly obvious. Loud grating noises are stressful and impede communication, relaxation, sleep and concentration. Noise can also damage property values, the ability to relocate, and self-esteem. Noise is bad news for everyone: no employer wants a sick workforce, local hostility or a declining neighbourhood.
Consequently, the industrial noise control market is on track to pass US $53 billion in value globally within ten years.
Noise Control Materials
At the moment, polyurethane foam and fibreglass account for 60% of the raw materials market for noise mitigation products. Although China is a major exporter, it increasingly needs its supply for its own internal market, leaving substantial opportunities for others to step in. At the same time however, new technologies and products are in rapid development. Although some still need to be rigorously tested and gain quality approvals, any one of them could have a major impact within the decade. Where industrial and residential areas meet, typically higher levels of acoustic performance are required – steel is typically the default construction material
Public, commercial and health-related pressures are aligning to drive new regulations across the entire region. As well as our own Australian regulations, trade pacts often place requirements on industries to regulate and standardise. For some enterprises, that could mean their current noise control arrangements may need to be reassessed.
One thing that is always true in business is that companies need to anticipate new regulations before they are announced and explore better solutions before their rivals do.
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