October 2017 Vol. 72 No. 10


Contractors facing increased pressure to turn down the noise

Sound regulations dictate work hours and required equipment decibel ratings in residential and commercial neighborhoods. The rules vary by country, state and municipality, which can make it tricky for contractors to stay on top of the current guidelines. These regulations are already affecting contractors in many European countries, and Vermeer anticipates and is preparing for cities across North America to follow suit and adapt stricter guidelines.

Jon Kuyers, senior global product manager at Vermeer, believes the sound issue has come to the forefront because of the increased fiber installation and utility replacement projects occurring in urban areas.
“With more people working from home than ever before and nearby schools in session, contractors must do their part to help reduce noise and distractions in neighborhoods,” he said.

For example, in Nashville, where an abundance of fiber work is taking place, local news sources reported an influx of complaints from downtown dwellers who were losing sleep from contractors working through the night. The city responded by enforcing new ordinances that ban construction work, including “blasting, jack hammering and hoe ramming,” between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

While the construction noise is frustrating to city residents, the increasingly stringent ordinances popping up across North America are equally frustrating to contractors who are working to meet aggressive project installation timelines.

For example, a contractor in Vancouver, British Columbia, stated that his crews can’t start working until 10 a.m. on Saturdays and must be done by 8 p.m. To further complicate matters, in some regions his crews can’t work on Sundays without obtaining noise bylaw exception permits. These narrow timeframes make it challenging for his crews to complete projects on schedule.

Residents’ complaints will subside when they’re streaming their favorite media on their new high-speed Internet service, but in the meantime, contractors should be mindful of their noise emissions in order to be good stewards of the communities they serve.

Engineering a solution

To help contractors meet noise regulations of an urban jobsite, Vermeer has several drill models that may offer a solution.

“As we evaluated the market landscape, we realized that contractors are going to be doing more fiber installation and electric and gas replacement line work in congested urban areas,” Kuyers said. “That means contractors are going to need equipment that is quieter, has a quicker setup time and has a smaller footprint.”

Vermeer responded by introducing the S3 Navigator® horizontal directional drill lineup. The S3 drills offer significant sound reductions from the previous Series II Navigator models. The reduced sound decibel ratings create less neighborhood disturbance, making the S3 drills well-suited for urban jobsites.

Project considerations

Ordinances vary but most cities evaluate disturbances based on criteria like local zoning laws, dBA noise level ratings, the proximity to sleeping areas, the time of day and the frequency and duration of the noise. Some cities’ guidelines are more stringent than others. Before bidding on their next projects, contractors should consider the following:

  • Is the jobsite located in an industrial, residential or mixed zoning area?
  • Are the local sound regulations stated in the bid documents? If not, contact the local government or their official website for ordinance guidelines.
  • Do you have access or a plan to utilize sound mitigation material and/or shielding to reduce noise on the project?
  • Can the company’s horizontal directional drill and supporting equipment meet the required sound decibel ratings? If not, does the crew have access to an alternative equipment or installation method?
  • Does the company need to apply for noise bylaw exception/exemption permits? How far in advance? How will that affect the overall project costs?
  • How do the local ordinances affect the project timeline? Will the company incur fines if it is unable to meet the deadline? Should the crew build extra time into the project plan to compensate for shorter work hours?
  • If a contractor is confident in the crew and equipment’s ability to adjust and meet these types of project considerations, the company will likely be able to complete the installation efficiently and cost-effectively.

Contractors who are feeling increased pressure to reduce jobsite noise emissions can contact a local Vermeer dealer to schedule a demo of the S3 Navigator horizontal directional drill lineup or visit www.vermeer.com for more information.

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