Episode #9 - How To Control Data Center Noise

This episode focuses on the rapidly growing Data Center industry and how critical controlling noise is for employees at the facility and neighboring areas to follow city ordinances.

Hear from Kinetics Noise Control experts, John Sofra and Robert Hassler, as they sit down for a thorough discussion on the noise issues data centers face and solutions that can be implemented.

Transcript

John Sofra
Thank you everyone for joining us today. We're going to talk about data centers, the onslaught, and beginning of data centers popping up all over the world. And we're going to talk about the noise that data centers can create. It's just the nature of the designs. Nobody's trying to create noise. It's just when you look at a large data center, you have a lot of computers. To have those computers run, you need power.

To supply them with power, whether it's municipal or direct power, constant power backup, you're going to have a lot of heat. And so with that a lot of heat, you're going to have a lot of cooling. And with cooling, you're going to have mechanical equipment that makes noise from the generators, backup generators making noise to cooling making noise. So we're here to discuss all that today and also noise control solutions. So I welcome you. My name is John Sofra with Kinetics Noise Control. I've been in the industry for noise control and both supply and exhaust ventilation design systems for about 35 years and really enjoy it, enjoy helping customers. I'm a mechanical engineer and got my business degree, so it helps me see things from various avenues of design and financial aspects of projects, both retrofit and new construction. And my colleague here, Robert Hassler, Robert, why don't you introduce yourself?

Robert Hassler
Yeah, I'm Robert Hassler and I've been involved with acoustics, probably 30-something years as well. My background is in the test market. I worked in the design development and for cheap metal ductwork and acoustical products. So I've had 25 years working in a lab. I'm a B .E. I'm involved with ASHRAE and AMCA and we discuss and work on a lot of standards and I... deal with solving noise issues in the environmental, industrial, and commercial markets. Today we're going to discuss a little bit more about this and at least the data centers in particular. I'll let John go further and we'll hit this off.

John Sofra
Thanks, Robert. Thank you. And Robert and I have worked together for many, many years in different aspects, different companies. And so it's kind of funny. And we're two flips of the coin, but it's a great way to balance that... So Robert, you know, one of the most interesting things that have been happening lately, especially since just before, well, let's say around 2019, but definitely crescendoed in 2022. And that was the, the huge development where we're seeing data centers go up all over the world, especially in North America, especially in the United States. You know, we're seeing a lot of the data centers coming up and they can be located in many different places. Sometimes we're seeing them in the metropolitan areas where they're actually shoe-worn in a campus of data center buildings, or they could be in the suburbs where they're putting them next to large residential communities, you know, 500,000 home subdivisions. And then we can also put it in rurally. And, you know, my thing is, Robert, is, you know, I think a lot of people ask, you know, how do they decide where they're going to put this campus of data center buildings? You know, some people say, why didn't they put it in my backyard? Some people said, why did they put it in my backyard? So what are your thoughts on that?

Robert Hassler
My thoughts are is most the time they look at where's the usage and who needs, needs the product. Obviously metropolitan areas or a lot of banks and a lot of financial institutions, a lot of times will drive a lot of these. But some of it will be more generic. You know, Google and Amazon and all these big companies have databases on all kinds of things. And they want to put it somewhere where it's close to a metro hub where the

You know, it's like your old dial-up line. You don't want to be a really long way away because your data transfer rate between the two locations is a long time. So they want to be close to where it's happening and close to where it can get the power and where it can be easily accessed if need be and also in a relatively secure location because most of these are compounds or, you know, a dedicated building just for this.

John Sofra
Right, they're just data. In other words, data is security is huge on these, right? And people say, well, why do we need data centers all of a sudden? And I think to myself, I said, what do you do every day? You use your phone, you use the internet. Data centers are really the brains and the engine of the internet. And...

Robert Hassler
Yeah, and you'll see that all the time, especially just watch someone freak out when they have no cell service or no phone or you can't look something up on online. It's like, I can't know what I don't have to do. And.

John Sofra
My internet's down. Yeah, you freak out. You start to have that cold sweat. You know, the...

Robert Hassler
So that's why they're located at large metro areas because that's the shortest wire to get it to the transmitting location.

John Sofra
And a good way to put that is I know sometimes when they test, like if my personal internet's down at home, I'll call my internet provider and one of the things they do is they'll send up what they call a ping out, right? They send a ping to you and then it pings and reverts back to speed test and that's the latency. How quick does that go? They want quick, quick, right? Nothing's fast enough for it.

Robert Hassler
Yeah, speed test.

Right. And a lot of times I'll even tell you, this is the one in Cleveland. This is the one in Cincinnati. This is the one in Chicago. You know, it's like, it's like, sometimes we get a really long pings. It's like, and sometimes it's my equipment and sometimes it's their equipment. And sometimes it's just weather between the two.

John Sofra
Yep. But that's the latency. And I think the other thing that we see in data centers too on their locations is, you know, they may have what we call a campus. There may be six, seven buildings in a campus. It's pretty big. And we're talking big buildings, a data center of power, cooling, and computers and secure information. But you may have a large company that is in, that handles data centers. And you had mentioned one before, Google, Amazon.

There's many, many there's financial institutions that have them. There's many out there but they won't just have a hub or a campus in let's say a territorial area like maybe in the northeast somebody may have one in say Virginia campuses of data centers. That same company will also have a campus maybe in southwest US or the western US maybe Arizona or something. So although they have campus close they also want them remote because you have to look at floods, natural disasters, power outages, and you want to make sure that you can quickly revert to an area that hasn't been affected negatively. So it's interesting. I think one thing when it comes to acoustics, Robert, you and I were ran into this a few years, well, a number of years ago. And it was part of it was an oil and gas. But since we're talking about data centers, the same thing is true, is some people say, well, why don't we put, people complain about noise when you put a data center in the inner city or the metropolitan or next to a large subdivision. Why don't we just put it out in a field somewhere, very rural area. And you know, you and I ran into this before where actually that's not a solution either. And one of the reasons were, is the ambient noise at night in a cornfield or many acres of farming land is very very low so you know instead of running about you know 50 dBA at night or or something like that at the property line you may be looking at 30 dBA at night and any noise above that is going to be noticeable so it gets even more stringent.

Robert Hassler
Well, and another thing is a lot of times, even if they did put them out in the middle of nowhere, that area becomes developed. And in five years from now, it's going to have houses all around it or communities around it. And now it's right in the heart of a little area, a little community. And exactly, and it's one that is the pipe size of the data going in and out of this data center is only so big. So I mean, you get...

John Sofra
Huh. It's in the heart of it. If you build it, they will come, right? Yeah.

Robert Hassler
Too much traffic going at the same time. We've all experienced slow download speeds on movies and software, but I mean, it's all about having enough capacity for the environment and...

Obviously, there are places that be prime candidates for large data centers in a general area, Chicago being one, because there's a lot of stocks market and other things going on. Same with New York, any Metro city. I mean, even the large university downtown. I mean, we're here in Ohio, so Ohio State University. I wouldn't be surprised if they have multiple data centers, even just here in Columbus.

Just because some of the large engineering things that they're working on and other professions that they're doing research and development and they need that speed. Whereas, you know, Joe Farmer is following his crop, is using GPS to get his tractor to drive up and down the rows now. So, I mean, it's one that everybody needs access at some point, and getting to that point. And that's why we just need to have.

John Sofra
Yep, that's amazing.

Robert Hassler
Capability everywhere and sound is becoming more of an issue no matter where we put them.

John Sofra
Well, I think that now that we kind of discussed on why there's all these data centers cropping up, and I think one of the key things is the data center companies do give a lot of thought into the proper area to put data centers. They don't just flip a coin. There's a lot of research put in. And so I think we were able to explain some of that. I hope our listeners had picked up on some of that. So I hope it's helpful.

Robert Hassler
Well, and another thing being that the power, I had heard a stat somewhere, I don't know how accurate it is, but within the next five years, 40 % of our electrical usage is going to be going towards maintaining data centers and computers. And it's like, that's even before you figure in electric cars and all the other things they're supposed to have. So.

John Sofra
It'll be amazing. It'll be amazing.

Yeah, that they're supposed to add, so it's huge. It's huge. And so now we get a lot of questions from people I know, you and I since we're in the noise control business. And we manufacture, Kinectx manufactures noise control products, whether it's vibration, isolation, wind restraint, seismic restraint, or whether it's airborne noise, which is really what we're talking most here is about airborne noise when it comes to community noise issues.

Robert Hassler
And add the eye into that and it's going to be crazy.

John Sofra
And sound is just energy and it propagates in all directions outdoors and the outdoor, you know, geographic topographical area and makeup is very important. And when we're getting calls on a daily basis, I want to talk a little bit about that because I know I get calls from various people.

When it starts a noise control issue for a data center sometimes I get a call in when the data centers just being designed Which is the best place to sign it up front and then sometimes I get a call from a data center that's already existing and they're having some noise issues.

Robert Hassler
Yeah, I've even had people that'll just call up. We have a noise problem. We don't know what to do about it. We don't need to even know who to go to. And in some places they are actually zoning and codes where they have to be at a certain level of the property line and other places. They just want to be good neighbors, you know, and.

John Sofra
Right?

Robert Hassler
It varies everywhere you go.

John Sofra
What we have here is, you know, people that call us, you know, a lot of times I'll get a call from an acoustical consultant or I'll get a call from an architect. Or a mechanical engineer that's laying in mechanical cooling equipment and say, I think we're going to have an issue here. What other people have you gotten calls from on initial calls where we start talking about noise control for a data center?

Robert Hassler
I've had calls that are from Joe John Hugh Public that's sitting along the road and he's saying, I hear this humming at night and it drives me nuts. And I, it's this big building over here. I don't know anything about it, but I did a basic measurement using my phone where I downloaded some sound levels and this is what numbers I get. Where'd I go from here and how can I, what options do I have to make this go away? Or how can I treat this? Do we go locally? Do we go to the, you know, our zoning commission? Do we go to... Yeah, and a lot of times you get people that are just tired of hearing it. And when you're tired of hearing it, then you get to start saying, even if I had to pay for it myself, a lot of times they obviously try and get the cost to be done by the source of the noise, but...

John Sofra
Yeah, what, you know, I don't want to.

If I go to the city, what do I do, right?

Mm-hmm.

Robert Hassler
But in some instances, they're willing to actually even pay for it upfront. You know, it's like.

John Sofra
What I know that I'm finding out a lot is what I really like. And you know, you and I have a lot of times seen noise move into an area and every now and then you'd have a good neighbor, let's say a factory or whatever the noise source is, they end up being a good neighbor. Maybe they're within city noise ordinance limits, but they want to be a good neighbor. Even if they're allowed the noise that they're producing, they want to get it quiet or they want to be a good neighbor.

And what I've noticed is all data center requests we get, like let's say we get a call from an owner, a data center owner, and whether it's one of their engineers, their design team, they have a corporate mandate to take care of the community and their employees. So indoor noise is a concern and they take care of it, but they also want to take care of noise outdoors. And I think that's been a really... nice thing that we've seen over the years that used to be a fight sometimes with other companies and data centers seem to stay right on target. So that's really good.

Robert Hassler
Well, and also in that venue, I mean, there's always options. I mean, there's a five dB noise drop. I mean, there'd be 10 dB. How much noise do you need? How much do you need to lower it? And in some cases, even just them doing something, it makes them happy. You know, just having some reduction.

John Sofra
Right. Right. And that's, that's it.

So when we look at the noise sources though that people are calling us, I know a lot of time, you know, it's basically mechanical cooling equipment is the biggest noise source. And then also the generator rooms. And, you know, I mean, diesel generator room, you can walk into that room and they range anywhere from 102 to 110 DBA. That's inside, yeah.

Robert Hassler
Yes, generators make a lot of noise.

Right. And that's inside the room now. So you got to worry about the people inside the room. You also got to worry about how much noise is being generated outside the building because obviously the exhaust is going out.

John Sofra
How much is propagating through like the fresh air intakes or downstream of the radiator cooling if it's not remote cooled. So we want to take a look and we want to look at the engine exhaust just like mufflers on your car. But we also want to look at the fresh air intake that I generate a room and also the discharge off of there. So that's been one of the biggest things that we tend to use our acoustic louvers and silencers on are those openings for generator rooms. Yep. Yeah. And.

Robert Hassler
Yeah, because you got to get the heat out because electronics make heat.

John Sofra
And a generator itself is extremely important because if they're using the backup generators, that means there's something wrong with the municipal power. And we can't have as consumers of data transfer, we can't have interruptions just like we talked before, we get quite upset as using. So, you know, that's one of the things we use a lot is the silencers. We also can line when we talk about the...

Robert Hassler
If our cell phone doesn't work, it's like, yeah.

John Sofra
Indoors in a generator room a lot of times we'll use our model instead of our silencers or acoustic louvers to make sure noises and breaking out of the building itself to the neighbors We also indoors can soften the walls and the ceiling of a large generator room a generator room that might have you know six ten twelve or more 500 kW generators in it and that's just an example sometimes generators are much larger sometimes they're smaller but

We will use our Model S4 sound absorption panels for the walls and ceiling. Our wave baffles, Kinetics hanging baffles, these are all absorbers. These are things that are going to at most get you 10 to a 12 dBA reduction with a lot of coverage of the walls and the ceiling. They're all class A fire-rated, which is important.

Robert Hassler
One.

Another thing is most all these are going to be made out of concrete to survive Armageddon. You know, I mean, they're designed to be, you know, able to survive bad weather or tornadoes and whatnot. They're often concrete or concrete block and reflective surfaces, noise surface everywhere. So, I mean, it's one of those that anything we can do to absorb that noise and the noise going in and out of that.

John Sofra
Right? Smart.

They're bunkers.

Robert Hassler
Box so to speak that's...

John Sofra
So you made a good point. You made a good point is that the noise within that generator room, for instance, there's noise and noise is, I always say sound is energy. Noise is a sound that is unwanted and it's huge energy levels. And so.

Robert Hassler
Right. And then in a concrete room, it's a reverberation room and it just bounces around and it never goes anywhere because it doesn't absorb it. There's nothing there to absorb that energy.

John Sofra
Yeah. Until you open up a fresh air intake or discharge off that room. And now that sound wants to get out, it says, let me out, right? It's too loud and here even the sound, the noise is saying it's too loud. Let me out and bother the neighbors. So.

Robert Hassler
It has a path to get out and...

Right. So, I mean, so a lot of times we have to get it down to what is below 80 for OSHA and for exposure of the people working. And yeah, so, I mean, and you don't want 85 because you're, and you're building next to your house because especially at night, I wouldn't want to be sleeping next to an 85 DBA noise.

John Sofra
Yeah, 85, yeah. Without PPE for eight hours.

You know the... not all your sleep and especially those a lot of times too even if they don't use the backup generators a lot of times they test the backup generators at a very low demand time which used to be about 4 a in the morning that'll definitely wake you up that may have changed because the world operate

Robert Hassler
Well, in some places they will only do their testing during daylight hours, just for the reason of the code limits their noise level when they're running. It's different during the daytime than it is at night. And nighttime is more stringent, so they don't do their tests at night. They do it during the day. So that way during non-emergency conditions, they can get away with it being a little louder. Now, obviously if there's an emergency going on and...

John Sofra
Just for that reason.

Yeah. Yeah, most definitely.

If they can balance that out, you know, very smart.

Robert Hassler
Hurricane hits or a tornado or whatever and the power is out well number one your ambient is going to be different because all the home air conditioning units won't be running and you know

John Sofra
It could be in the middle of it.

I did see in a city's sound ordinance, municipal sound ordinance, where it actually commanded, commanded, I don't know if that's the right word, but it actually says you needed to test things under the nighttime code. So, worst case where it's quiet. Yeah, it's quiet.

Robert Hassler
Yeah, a lot of times we design for the nighttime period because we don't know when it's going to be run. And so we will intentionally design for the worst conditions. So that way, when it gets to be the daytime conditions, it's, you know, even better. You meet the, meet the spec even better. So.

John Sofra
Well, getting back to our original discussion on the generator room, just to conclude with that, at least that item, a generator room, what Robert and I were saying is that maybe putting acoustic, let's say putting acoustic louvers or ventilation silencers in the openings outside air intake and discharge openings of that room work fine, but you can fine-tune that by putting absorption on the walls. So the noise within the room is actually reduced before it can even propagate through the opening. So that's that balancing act. Yeah.

Robert Hassler
Yeah. So you have less noise to take care of. I mean, if you're starting out with a lower number, it's going to work out better.

John Sofra
And it always comes to balancing initial cost and labor versus how much noise control you get. And then you also have space limitations. So where you know a 10-foot-long silencer might work, well, wait a minute, I only have four feet. I don't have 10 feet. So you have to apply a lot of Kinetics products. The nice thing with Kinetics is we make so many things. I was talking to somebody the other day and they were asking me all these questions from vibration isolation to rooftop.

Air handling units on curbs and and sound within duct systems and separation of noise and walls and ceiling and then Reverberant noise control within a space and then they were looking at barrier walls outdoors and they were just asking me all these questions when we got to the end we said wow Kinetics we actually Manufacture we have a huge toolbox and manufacture all products that address all those concerns So we can give a lot of composite solutions. So that's interesting the other the next thing to get on to

I think is air-cooled chillers. Air-cooled chillers where you have the up-blast fans on the top and you have basically a big air conditioning unit, right? But air-cooled chiller and you have the compressors on the side. You have the whining of the compressors in the mid, the low-frequency drone of the up-blast fans. And a lot of times around a roof of a data center. What do we usually do to tackle any of that?

Robert Hassler
Most of the time it depends on where the relationship is between the person that hears the noise and where the noise is generated. If it's up on a roof, sometimes you can get away with just a barrier wall, block the direct line of sight and direct path for the noise to go. Other times where you may have it more difficult to block the direct line of sight where your next-door neighbor is a five-story...

John Sofra
Mm-hmm.

Robert Hassler
Apartment building and your data center is only a two-story, then you'll be able to look in the top. Well, in that case, then we have to deal with pergola on the top or directing the sound to going a different direction.

John Sofra
You said you said pergola. That's our NOISEBLOCK pergola. So for those of you out there that may not know what that means, look at a lot of people's backyard patios and you have some. There's a thing out there called a pergola on a lot of patios. It's a thing where you see a bunch of the trusses. You got like maybe posts in the corners, trusses. You got wind chimes, hummingbird feathers. Yeah, it looks like that. So that's how we use the noise block pergola. It looks like that. You can check that out.

Robert Hassler
Yeah, it blocks the sun limitedly.

And it's basically a number of flat panels that are acoustically absorptive, running perpendicular to the airflow path that allows a lot of airflow to go by. But as the airflow goes by, it absorbs some of the noise. So it's a modified version of what you could also say is a silencer because it's in an airflow path and it has absorption.

John Sofra
You know what we found out though too and I'm not going to give all the answers away here. A lot of it's proprietary but there's a lot of thought and a lot of solid works in finite element acoustic modeling and back pressure and modeling computational fluid dynamics where over the years kinetics since the early 2000s, now we've been, we were developed in 1958, founded.

But in the early 2000s, we did a lot of studies with air-cooled chiller manufacturers. And a lot of people said with an air-cooled chiller, when this is true, an air-cooled chiller isn't meant to have any kind of airflow or pressure drop restriction to it. It's not meant to. So over the years, Kinetics did a lot of research on how to place these baffles, how to place these pergola panels, the spacing of the pergola panels, the distance between the up-blast fans and the bottom of the pergola panels, access for, for maintenance, we looked at all kinds of different pressure drop flow effects and it's not just something where you can look at a picture and say, I'm going to do this. I guarantee you if you don't know what you're doing, you're going to make mistakes. So one of the things.

Robert Hassler
Well, and another thing you need to look at is most of these manufacturers do not allow you to do anything to attach to their equipment. So we always design so it's nothing's connected to the equipment because in some cases the equipment is actually designed to support itself. It's not designed to hold any additional load.

John Sofra
Definitely. And what was nice with kinetics on that. So what Robert's saying is we've seen some people out there try to design a noise block pergola system or a chiller stack and they attach it right to the equipment. Well, that air-cooled chiller was not meant to take any of this added vertical dead load weight or the wind forces when it hits the side of the stack or pergola. And if you look in the fine print of the people trying to do it, it'll say, well, it's up to others to make sure that works. No, no, no, no, no, no.

Robert and I, early, early in our careers, remember Robert's been out there for about 32 years, I've been out there for 35 plus years, we were always taught you never touch a vendor's, a manufacturer's piece of equipment, you never touch it, and what's really nice is so we never do. Everything of ours is separate of the equipment, supported separately, designed so it's invisible to the equipment when it comes to pressure drop and airflow, and Kinetics has all our own structural engineers on staff, which is nice.

I really liked that Robert, that has really helped us hasn't it?

Robert Hassler
Yeah, well, and also the equipment's mounted using vibration isolation, which we do that product as well. But you just throw the, the, all the spring sizes and all the vibration loading all out of whack if you add to their structure. So, and you don't want to be buying it again. So.

John Sofra
Yeah? Yeah, - If you add to that when they didn't, yeah, it's already. And what you mean is a lot of times, well, a lot of times too, you made a good point there. You didn't, you didn't come out and say it, but I know what you're thinking is we always agree, you and I and many in industry agree it's always best to design this noise control at time of new construction. It's always best, but a lot of times things get budgeted out. So we are often performing retrofit work on something that may have been up for a year and the owner may have said, well, let's see, we'll budget that out. Maybe we won't have a problem. And then a year later, the neighbors complain or the community complains because of the noise. And so they have a problem. But Robert made a good point. If somebody goes in there blindly and starts adding a weight to the equipment that's vibration-isolated, you're right. They'll throw everything out of whack. So.

Robert Hassler
Right, right. And if you start doing a coil bind and now you have a short circuit structurally and maybe making even more noise.

John Sofra
And then they have indoor vibration noise, which turns into a, the structure of the building turns into a tuning fork indoors and everybody's complaining about it.

Robert Hassler
Right, or you have equipment failure because things are not bouncing like they're supposed to.

John Sofra
The torsion. Yep. So the next thing we have is the similar to air-cooled chillers we would often have cooling towers and the same thing and deustrap cooling towers are cooling towers that do not have a lot of external static so when you start to apply noise control to them like silencers you got to be very careful.

On any kind of airflow restrictions and actually at rate I'm sorry, Kinetics noise control one of our engineers, Tom Page who passed away a number of years ago, Tom, great guy, learned a lot from him and he actually did an at rate paper on noise control for induced traffic cooling towers and it can be done and the paper shows it can be done and we have actual case studies where it was done but there was once again a lot of CFD computational fluid dynamics, a lot of SolidWorks modeling for structure and, and, and just, and, and finite element acoustics that was done till we came up to where we are today where we're almost audit automatic on our solutions, which is nice. We have Robert, I think the biggest thing is, is the cinder block concrete equipment yards, which can have any kind of equipment in right next to a building.

What are the things we do there to soften those surfaces up? Because it's a big reverberation chamber, right? The noise reflects and actually makes more noise. What do you think about that?

Robert Hassler
Right. Yeah, most time we end up first and foremost, we look at where's the receiver. I was like, where's Waldo? If he's on a balcony looking down in it, or is this the tallest thing in the neighborhood? And if it's the tallest thing in the neighborhood, well, now we just got to worry about trying to reduce the noise in the local area inside the concrete-encased yard. Well, you...

John Sofra
Hahaha.

For the yarn.

So we're trying to soften those walls, probably, right?

Robert Hassler
We'll soften those walls. We'll use what we call our KNP panel, which is a metal panel with insulation in it that's mounted directly to the walls. We'll use our curtain products. A lot of times we'll call it the K of A. Outdoor would be the K of E and V version, which has got the UV inhibitors in it so that way you don't worry about the sun breaking it down. It's one of those and it's easy for them to mount because easy mounting, ease of mounting, we try and make it so that.

John Sofra
The outdoor curtain product. And it's very cost-effective for those retrofit, those on-pointing money projects. Right.

Robert Hassler
The janitor for the school can put it up and if they need to do maintenance.

John Sofra
Well, that and that's not a ding everybody just so you know that's not a thing on the janitors what we're saying is a janitor is not specialized in putting up acoustic products but the way we design them is your general maintenance janitorial crew but however you define that is we try to focus on you know you have an initial cost for a product but we also want to advise that it's easy to install so we're not trying to make a ding at anybody we're just trying to make a point.

And so we love all the janitors out there. In fact, if you can make a little more, have a little more opportunity to install stuff, more power to you.

Robert Hassler
Right. And so we always try and design that everything's completely bolt together. So you don't have to worry about dealing with the welding people on sites. You can get away with doing it with, you know, most hand tools are readily available. You can put most of these things up. I mean, electric drills, you know, hammers, nails, you know, wrenches, you know.

John Sofra
Factory cut to size. Or like we say when all you have, like when we say when all you have is a vice grip, make it work, right? No, I'm kidding, I'm sorry.

Robert Hassler
Right. So, I mean, the curtains a lot of times will be a wooden furring strip that gets mounted on the concrete block wall and they'll use lag bolts to fender screw, fender washers on it to hold it up to it. I mean, it's not super rocket science. It's not rocket science. Just a matter of get this on the wall, cover up the hard reflective surface with this softer material that absorbs some of the noise and keeps it reflecting and just being in that little reverberant box.

John Sofra
Screw through those grommets. Yeah.

What do we do sometimes? What do we do sometimes? Let's say your equipment yard. Let's say your air -cooled chillers, there might be three or four in the equipment yard. It doesn't matter how many there are, but let's say there's an air -cooled chiller in the equipment yard and that air -cooled chiller sits on a six-inch pad. It's a 98-inch tall from base to top of guard on the uplast fan. So that's 98 plus six. What is that? 98 six 104. Did I do that right?

So let's say it's 104 inches tall and let's say your, your equipment yard wall your hard equipment yard wall Center block or concrete is at the same elevation as as as the top of the chiller What do we do then we soften the walls of the of the equipment yard? What do we do about out the last fan?

Robert Hassler
Well, assuming that your neighbors are all at or below, you're still going to have some noise getting over the top. So a lot of times we'll do what we call a chiller stack, which is basically an elevated barrier wall to reduce the noise from the prop fans on the top of the unit. So that way it helps block and absorb some of the noise coming from the prop fans and which is in general is one of the noisiest parts of the unit.

John Sofra
It feels like a chillers pack or something. But it's in there. Yeah.

Chill or stat, gotcha.

Yeah. Or one of them.

Robert Hassler
Prop fans on the top for the airflow. That's the bulk of your noise. Now, in some cases, there'll be a compressor or something that effect. Usually that's only an issue on like a rare occasion, because it's a tonal noise. It's a little bit more, but it's down inside your, your yard. It's down on the bottom. So it's not as easy for that to get up over.

John Sofra
Screaming compressor people call it.

We use our quiet shields for that. Yeah.

Robert Hassler
Quiet Shield? Yes, we call it a Quiet Shield product and that's basically a little curtain enclosure that gets a angle frame constructed to support it around the compressors or the other pieces of equipment in the bottom that are making the noise. So it's basically a little tiny curtain enclosure that's installed just to address that one noise source.

John Sofra
And it's really interesting too because sometimes you can have what I call vertical compressors where there's a little gang of them or you have a horizontal compressor where there's one or two on it. But it's really interesting and the reason we came up with that Quiet Shield product was what we were finding was people were putting these very custom fit wraps, noise control wraps on the compressors and the oil separators in the area.

They were doing that and it was really cool. It was expensive. It was pretty until the Service team had to come in and service it and they would unstrap buckles and straps and they would take it off and they'd set it aside they fix whatever they are maintain whatever they had to and then they'd look at it and say I don't know how to get that back on so because it's so complicated so Yes, but they didn't know how to put the wrap back on right because it had all these clasps and all these

Robert Hassler
Right. And there's so many other wires and hoses running in and out of it. That's right, so we're basically making a whole box to cover the whole works up that you just take off one side and you have complete access to all of it and.

John Sofra
Right. And it was funny. How many did we come up to where people say, hey, it wasn't making noise before. Now it is. We go there, find out that they took that custom wrap by others off of there and it was hard to put it back. So now it was exposed completely. We put a quiet shield in there and quiet shields the way they're built like that box. It's really cool because you inherently pull off a panel that might be there might be multiple panels on here and they're very light. And but they block noise and absorb sound.

Robert Hassler
And they didn't put it back on.

John Sofra
And they might only be two-foot square or two foot by four foot. And when you take it off with the fender wash, just the leg screws and wing nuts, you take that off, you service it. And then you look at this panel on the ground and you say, how do I put that? Well, it's easy. You put it on and you put these grommets on these studs and boom, boom, you're done. So it's been well received for maintenance, basically by maintenance, but always making sure that after the product is maintained, the compressors that the noise control goes back in easily. And I think that's important on all of our projects.

Robert Hassler
Yeah, and the benefit of that also is you really don't have to worry about heat. Mainly for the reason of you're pumping the coolant through this thing and the coolant is going to the big radiators up on top. So, I mean, it's designed to self cool.

John Sofra
Right.

Cooling through anyway.

I once worked with a, I once worked when we were developing that product about 12 years ago. I had a customer that was saying, well, it's going to overheat. I says, what's going to overheat? You got coolant running through that thing, but we do allow ventilation through it. In fact, there's a trick to it. And in some cases, it only consists of a lid and three sides and, and, and no bottom, no side into the unit, but there's, there's a lot of ways we can do it. All these are,

Basically what Kinetics philosophy is, is to use our technical knowledge and our expertise. We use custom products and then apply all that knowledge in the products to non -standard applications or what people would think are non -standard applications. We apply as much knowledge and standard product dimensions and sizes and types and just clean up or finish up a corner of the solution with something non -standard. So that's been our success.

I think are in closing out here too, Robert, I think, and you can elaborate after I, is the fact that we really, in all these data center noise issues, and data center's just one thing that we're talking about today, but people say noise control, who do you work with? Anybody that's making noise and needs to quiet it down. And we work very much as a team.

You know, I think that when we go into a project meeting with a new client before we receive an order, we're just kicking around ideas and they're telling us their situation is we're sitting on the same side of the table with each other all the time. It's not that you and us, we go in a meeting, we're sitting on the same side of the table and we're all one team now with the client. And I think we also want to know, you know, what their maintenance people have to say, what the equipment supplier has to say. We want to know what their thoughts are.

If they need us to speak in front of us city officials or or give them backing or help the acoustical consultant or architect with Valuable information or the mechanical engineer. We're here to do that So I think immediately we come part of the team, you know Well before even the project gets kicked off or goes out for bid. So I think that's really interesting And the key thing that everything we do Robert is don't void the warranty on the equipment, isn't it? You know, we don't we can't do that

Robert Hassler
Right. Well, and the takeaway is we also need to look at every job is different. We have many different ways of dealing with it from just absorptive panels to walls to stacks to full enclosures. There are multiple options of ways we can handle it or deal with it. There are options, different costs, different applications, and it depends on how loud you need to reduce it, how much you need to reduce and...

John Sofra
Yep.

Robert Hassler
Where your receivers and noise sources are in relationship to each other. And we have different options.

John Sofra
Exactly, you know, I'll tell you Rob We do we have a what I say a big toolbox what might work for this person You know owner a might not work for owner B and for various reasons In the end we want noise control. We want low pressure drops. We want easy maintenance We want and we want you know meeting local noise ordinances and things like that and to be part and we are a manufacturer that's what we do we just

Robert Hassler
Right.

John Sofra
Don't sell bill of goods, right? We sell through engineered solutions.

Robert Hassler
Right, and in some instances they also like it for security reasons. They say, you want to have a full enclosure or you want to put acoustical louvers on one of the walls instead of being open. Or bird screens or whatever, you know, there's all kinds of things we do.

John Sofra
Yeah. Yes. We had that one where they had a three -sided barrier wall system making a noise block panel equipment yard, noise blocks, kinetic strain name, that's our acoustic barrier wall panels, making a three -sided barrier wall system up against a commercial building. I think it was a commercial building. I think it was a school. Or it might have been a government utility. I don't remember, but they didn't want, and we had acoustic louvers on one side. They didn't want a roof on it.

Robert Hassler
Mm-hmm.

John Sofra
But they didn't want people to be able to climb up the acoustic louvers. It would be very hard. I couldn't do it today. I probably could, but I wouldn't do it more than once, is climb up a 12-foot wall of acoustic louvers and then jump into the equipment yard. And they didn't want that to happen. So you looked at a couple of different things, I think. I think you looked at putting acoustic louvers across the roof, or you also looked at a paint lamp for the louvers.

Robert Hassler
We ended up going with a pergola roof with a large spacing and then they went ahead and used a pergola roof for support for a chain link fence.

John Sofra
Kinda a chain link fence they put up there. So basically like it's

Robert Hassler
But they needed something to hold that chain link up with. So the Pergola gave them added additional noise control as well as something to mount to.

John Sofra
So they use the pergola root.

That's huge.

That's kind of what we see that a lot of times in different areas of the country where people are stealing copper and they'll put a chain link fence around and they'll put a chain link roof too. And so that's really interesting. But you know, Robert, yeah, go ahead.

Robert Hassler
Well, and, and some of our, some of our outdoor noise sources are, it's just a chain link fence already up and they just attach curtain to it. I mean, some of them that simple. I mean, but, every job is different.

John Sofra
Yeah, you're right. It's that simple. And for everybody out there to just that comment about chain link fences and our composite curtains that are meant for outdoors, they block sound and they absorb sound. And you can have factory-installed grommets and then you can wire tie or nylon zip tie to a chain link fence. You know, some people would say you can't do that because chain link fences aren't strong. And when you put this...

Curtain up it becomes a sail there's wind forces no you have to design for, for that added force on the columns of a chain link fence and so you put either kickers or you if you can you draw each column with a horizontal Tube back to the building so there are ways to do it we usually never say can't if we say that it can't be done or, or then it can't be done. In other words, we don't say it often since we have a big toolbox, we have our own structural and mechanical engineering teams on staff and acoustic expertise and all our products. So, you know, Robert, you and I never get a chance to sit down. We're always so busy, we never get a chance to sit around and kick around here and have this discussion. So I really appreciate us kind of slowing down and talking about some of these topics. And...

Robert Hassler
Yeah. Well, and a lot of them, they, they come up on a regular basis. So that's why we're putting this as a podcast.

John Sofra
Yeah.

Yeah, I really appreciate everybody else. Thanks for, really thanks for joining us. We're happy you were able to listen in and hopefully we'll have another one of these on other topics and so we won't be strangers with you. We'll be back, right Robert?

Robert Hassler
Absolutely.

John Sofra
All right, folks, have a good one.

Robert Hassler
Bye.