The purchasing of low-noise machines

Industrial vacuum cleaner in front ot the sound-attenuating wall

Noise emission test of an industrial vacuum cleaner in the IFA's semi-anechoic room
Source: IFA

To assist firms that wish to purchase new noise-emitting machines or replace them with quieter ones, the IFA has compiled the necessary information. It is broken down into the following subjects:

  • Legal provisions
  • Difficulties in complying with the legal provisions
  • Aids to the purchase of machines

Detailed information on the technical principles (PDF, 122 kB) (noise emission parameters and standards for determining the emission parameters) can be downloaded.

Legal provisions

Noise exposure at the workplace depends essentially on the noise emissions of the machines employed. The Noise and Vibration OSH Ordinance (PDF, 75 KB) (Art. 7) therefore demands of the business owner (operator) that he accords "high priority to noise reduction" when selecting new machines. Before purchasing a machine, he must therefore obtain information on the expected noise emission, compare all eligible machines from the point of view of noise emission and finally select the machine with the lowest noise emission. However, this does not guarantee that the selected machine really is the quietest one available on the market. This can only be said if the state of technology for noise emission is known for the machine type in question (see also expert committee information leaflet, Fachausschuss-Informationsblatt No. 013 (PDF, 95 KB)). If low-noise products are consistently purchased and older machines replaced with quieter new ones, significant noise reductions can be achieved in the long term. The firm also saves on extra noise reduction expenditure at the same time.

To make the necessary information on noise emissions from machines available to companies, the EC Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC (PDF, 1,37 MB) or rather its national transposition obligates the manufacturer and seller of machines in the 9th Ordinance on the Equipment and Product Safety Act (9. GPSGV) to state the noise emission in the user's manual as well as in sales brochures and catalogues describing the machine's performance features (see also DGUV-Information FB-HM No. 023 (PDF, 169 KB)).

Difficulties in complying with the legal provisions

In the implementation of the legal requirement to state the machine’s noise emission and in the selection of quiet machines, there are often problems, e.g. because

  • the noise level given by the machine manufacturer is in many cases inaccurate
  • the noise details mean little to purchasers, e.g. they do not know the difference between the emission sound pressure level and sound power level and between the emission parameters and noise exposure levels
  • the operating state in real machine use can differ considerably from the measurement conditions prescribed in the measurement standard
  • purchasers are unaware of the importance of selecting quiet machines for the expected workplace situation
  • other machine data, such as performance and price, are given priority in the purchase of machines.

Aids to the purchase of machines

When requesting quotations for new machines, it is advisable to also demand compliance with the progressive and tried-and-tested rules of noise reduction technology.

If possible, agreement should be reached on specific values for noise emission and on the measurement method (machine-specific noise test code). It may also make sense to request details of the noise emission under the anticipated operating conditions so that, for instance, precise forecasts of noise exposure at the workplaces can be made. The noise emitted under standardised operating conditions may differ considerably from the noise under actual operating conditions.

If, as things stand, the manufacturer is unable to provide details of the state of noise reduction technology, e.g. in the event of a lack of experience or if the machine is a one-off or special-purpose machine, several alternative quotes should be requested so that the product emitting the least noise can if possible be selected.

The noise datasheet for the purchase of machines given in Appendix 3 of TRLV Noise, Part 3 (TLRV Lärm Teil 3) can serve as an aid to a price quotation agreement. It also calls for a decision regarding a possible subsequent check (see also expert committee information leaflet No. 013 (PDF, 95 KB), in German).


Dr Florian Schelle

Division 4: Ergonomics, Physical environmental factors

Tel: +49 30 13001-3410
Fax: +49 30 13001-38001