Kimberly - Clark Tissue Plant
Everett - Washington

The Kimberly-Clark tissue paper plant operated in Everett has a long history of production and changes over many years.  When SSA Acoustics was contacted to resolve noise issues, it was a request that had been made to previous acoustical engineers without success.  The conditions within the plant make it difficult for an easy solution, high humidity, continuous equipment access, and a modest budget.

Noise within the plan was not contained to the tissue production line.  During our visit we met in the plant manager's office located within the plant.  This was done to impress upon us the noise levels that were experenced in their office and the need for improvements both on the production line and to spaces along the production line that would need improvements.  A quick measurements showed sound levels within the office exceeded 65 dB(A) making it difficult to talk on the phone or to have meetings.

The main space of the production facility is more than 300 feet long with a ceiling height of 30+ feet.  The facility is construction as a block building with concrete floors.  At the time of our first visit there was no acoustical absorption in the space.

Our initial assessment involved taking measurements along the entire production line in a grid fashion.  These measurements showed that the reflective nature of the space distrubited sound generating high noise levels.  The difference between noise levels 10 feet from the equipment and 100 feet from the equipment 5 decibels.  Reflective noise was a significant contributer to the overall noise levels within the plant.  Octave band noise level measurements were made at specific equpment locations for modeling of the equipment back in our office. 

The solution developed for the main space involved lowering the overall sound levels within the space by adding absorption and designing specific barriers and enclouses that addressed the high noise levels from specific sources.  The goal of these treatments was to bring the noise levels at operator positions along the line to below 90 dB(A) and for other areas to have noise levels below 85 dB(A).  Typical measurements for operator locations along the line were as high as 97 dB(A) and averaged 94 dB(A).

Absorptive treatments needed to cover a surface area greater than the area of the ceiling and needed withstand a "steam bath" at work each day.  Our solution included absorptive panels covered with pvc film.  Transparent to sound, they are able to keep moisture away from the interior fiberglass panels. By using baffles we were able to create more surface area.

The changes were completed in phases and developed to be installed with the equpment operating.  Each solution needed to be tailor to the location, and tailored again during installation.  But the results were effective.  Even the changes to the office were completed without the loss of the space for construction.  The results of the mitigation achieved the goals of our services outlined during our initial site visit.

Noise Control Engineers