How Solvay responded to noise complaints

Settled in Alsace (France), Solvay’s Chalampé plant is a leading European producer of Polyamide 6.6 and intermediate products. Its production units are operated continuously 24/7, and can cause various environmental disturbances including noise.

Considering the plant’s physical proximity to sensitive neighbors, efficient noise reduction is a major concern. To minimize this problem, a priority project was initiated in 2016. The project is part of a continuous improvement plan, “The Solvay Way”, developed in accordance with the company’s ISO 14001 certification obtained in November 2014.

Four sensors and a weather station

One essential part of the project is the establishing of a monitoring system. The system measures the noise levels from current activities at the plant. Enabling swift identification of specific events, the staff can solve the problem without unnecessary delay.

The monitoring strategy was to set sensors on the north and west sides of the site, facing the closest villages and complaining neighbors. Along those two axes, one sensor was set on the site property line and a second inside the village area.

These four sound level meters, together with a weather station and a barometer, are interconnected and integrated in an all-digital INFRA Net system. One of the sensors is powered by a solar panel.

Integrated equipment

The engineer in charge of the project is Mr. Patrick Renck, Head of the Environment department at Solvay Chalampé:

The Sigicom INFRA system was selected through a competitive bidding process, taking the sensors’ ruggedness, the simplicity of use and costs into account. Prior to the purchase, we rented a system to test the features and confirm our choice.

Monitoring was initiated in May 2016, replacing an obsolete measuring point. dB Vib Consulting was in charge of acoustic studies, supplied and set up all the Sigicom system in Chalampé. Solvay’s management chose to add a weather station and a barometer. The aim is to correlate the noise perception in the neighborhood to the weather conditions, and particularly the speed and direction of the wind.

The work is supervised by the Environmental department of the Chalampé plant. If and when a predefined noise level is exceeded, the noise signal is automatically recorded and stored to enable identification of the source. This also facilitates dealing with any complaints as well as the deployment of specific actions. Mr. Renck again:

The monitoring system will further advance our understanding of the noise perceived by the neighbours, and help us to take the right action faster.