ISVR Consulting - Annual report 2010

Every year the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research publishes an Annual Report. This is the entry for ISVR Consulting covering the calendar year 2010.

Research and project work

ISVR Consulting is the commercial consultancy group of the ISVR, although this description disguises the fact that more than 50% of invoicing is classed as applied research for accounting purposes. Unit members also take part in a number of research activities funded by the European Union (EU), the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), or the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which are accounted for within the departmental research budget.

Following a major restructuring in 2009, ISVR Consulting had a very successful year in 2010, despite the continuing difficult economic climate, and all staff are commended for their hard work throughout the year.  Many have taken on new responsibilities, as a result of which Andy Varley and John Fithyan were promoted to Senior Engineer in November.  Matt Parker rejoined the unit as a permanent member of staff in June and is to be congratulated for his part in Halyard Marine being awarded a Queen's Award to Industry

Most of the Unit’s activities are related to ‘product development’ across a very broad range of industries and applications.  Design work is carried out using various numerical and analytical modelling methods; standard tests are carried out in the test chambers to verify that products meet requirements for noise and vibration; refinement work is carried out in the development lab and in off-site tests.

Activities in the product development lab this year included work on garden machinery, televisions, hospital equipment, hearing defenders, go-karts, generator sets and reactive silencers.  The Banger Rig, which is used to aid the understanding of fundamental dynamics of engine structures had a busy year, and a significant amount of work is already scheduled for 2011.

Enquiries from the marine industry remained strong, with the usual mix of problem solving tasks on both small and large vessels.  This year has also seen support for two new-build projects, in both cases much of traditional shipyard noise and vibration wisdom is being questioned and opportunities to evaluate new concepts and products are being taken. One of these projects, funded by the Environmental Transformation Fund, is striving to reduce interior noise of wind farm support vessels to levels more associated with luxury yachts.  The unit continued its involvement in the EU-funded ‘Breakthrough in European Ship and Shipbuilding Technologies’ (BESST) project with a task on methods of assessing the airborne and water-borne noise impact of cruise liners.

Other marine projects of particular interest included work on various hydrodynamically induced noise and vibration issues, working closely with the Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics (WUMTIA); design of mass absorbers for the bow thruster motors of a cruise liner; investigation of shock transmission through a geotechnical survey vessel, and Finite Element (FE) modelling and testing work to design a two-stage isolation system for machinery destined for installation in a low-noise vessel.  A project to predict structure-borne noise on an oil drilling rig using Statistical Energy Analysis (SEA) methods was also completed during the year.

The work on airframe noise from commercial aircraft has continued with studies of landing gear noise in collaboration with Airbus; the ‘SYMPHONY’ project funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB); and the EU funded ‘OPENAIR’ project.  An EU ‘Clean Sky’ project on boundary element modelling of high-lift devices was completed in collaboration with the Aircraft Research Association (ARA) and the Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali ScpA (CIRA).

In the area of building acoustics and environmental noise there were, as always, a large number of Schedule E transmission loss tests on new-build housing and a diverse range of other environmental noise control projects.  However, a valuable and growing area of work is the modelling, using finite element methods, of vibration transmission in specialist buildings such as hospitals and science laboratories.  These facilities require particularly low levels of vibration and are very susceptible to machinery and human activity inside the building as well as external sources such as railways.  Ground-borne noise is a potentially valuable business area and this year saw the completion of work on the Thessaloniki metro and the start of a new project on the Thameslink line in London, both jobs being carried out in collaboration with Dr Chris Jones from the ISVR Dynamics group.

The chamber-based testing work had a busy year, with a diverse range of  projects ranging from transmission loss and sound absorption measurements for the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers to testing a large number of air conditioning units. The anechoic chamber was particularly busy with occupancy rates of approximately 75% throughout the year.  Uses included teaching; the open-jet aero-acoustic wind tunnel used by members of the Rolls Royce University Technology Centre  and researchers from the School of Engineering Sciences; and duct acoustics research work on the ‘SYMPHONY’ project which is funded by the Technology Strategy Board. The chambers were also used for many product testing and design exercises.

Work on hearing conservation projects has also been prolific this year.  One major study involved a series of comparative tests of headsets with talk-through systems to study their responses to continuous and impulsive noise.  Headsets with talk-through, or ‘sound-restoration headsets’, effectively act as hearing aids in quiet environments, but as hearing protection in high levels when the electronic systems shut down to allow the maximum noise attenuation.  With the help of Dr Keith Holland of the Fluid Dynamics and Acoustics Group a loudspeaker system capable of generating very high levels, more than 145 dB(C) peak at 1 metre, has been set up to reproduce impulsive sources such as gunshots as well as continuous noise.

Other work in this area included  a study in collaboration with Prof Mark Lutman of the ISVR Hearing and Balance Centre for ANEC, “the European consumer voice in standardisation” based in Brussels, to review and suggest improvements to the acoustical sections of standard prEN 71-1 on toy safety; a number of studies to measure noise exposures from earpieces and headsets used with radios by the emergency services and to assess these for compliance with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005;  a variety of expert witness services for cases of alleged hearing damage from the use of headsets or from noise exposure in factories.  ISVR Consulting continues to assist the Institute of Naval Medicine at Gosport with their Noise Assessors’ Training Course 

The prospects for 2011 are already very promising, with good sized applied research projects being negotiated in noise control of marine current turbines, the noise impact of wind turbines and various active noise and active vibration control studies.  These projects will all provide welcome opportunities for collaboration with academic colleagues from ISVR and the wider faculty.


*Dobrzynski, W., *Chow, L.C., Smith, M.G., *Boillot, A., *Dereure, O. and *Molin, N. (2010) Experimental assessment of low noise landing gear component design. International Journal of Aeroacoustics, 9(6), 763-86.

Lawton, B.W., (2009) Code of Practice for Controlling Risks due to Noise on Ships. Prepared for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; The Stationery Office, 92pp. ISBN 978-0-11-553075-3

*Li, Y., Smith, M.G. and *Zhang, X. (2010) Identification and attenuation of a tonal-noise source on an aircraft's landing gear. Journal of Aircraft, 47(3), 796-804.

Smith, M.G., *Chow, L.C. and *Molin, N. (2010) Control of landing gear noise using meshes. Proceedings of the 16th AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoustics Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 7-9 June 2010, AIAA-2010-3974, 8pp.

Carrilho J.A.D., Smith, M.G. (2010) The effect of a lifting wing on landing gear noise. Proceedings of the 16th AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoustics Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 7-9 June 2010, AIAA-2010-3975, 9pp

* indicates authors who are not in the ISVR.


Archive of our Annual Reports from other years.

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For further information contact

Malcolm Smith, Manager
ISVR Consulting,
University of Southampton,
SO17 1BJ,
United Kingdom

Telephone:  023 8059 2162 (+44 23 8059 2162 from outside the UK),
Fax:  023 8059 2728 (+44 23 8059 2728 from outside the UK)
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