Sound Advice: Simplify with Rental Equipment

By: Carol Case, Contributor

Keeping tabs on your employees’ noise exposure is essential to ensuring their hearing safety in the workplace. If processes and equipment utilized in your facility remain fairly constant, you may not need to monitor noise all the time.

OSHA requires employees to perform noise monitoring when “changes in production, process or controls increase noise exposure.”[1] Noise may also be measured occasionally as a routine check to ensure the correct hearing protection and controls are being provided.

In practice, therefore, it might not be most economical to own your own noise-monitoring equipment. Fortunately, renting noise-measurement tools, such as sound level meters and noise dosimeters, is a good alternative option. There are several advantages to renting these industrial hygiene tools.

1. Eliminate Ongoing Costs of Upkeep & Factory Calibration

An acoustic calibration should typically be performed on sound level meters and noise dosimeters both before and after a measurement. In addition, the acoustic calibrator, sound level meters and noise dosimeters should all undergo periodic factory calibration. The factory calibration interval is determined by the user considering risk and cost of failure, but the most common intervals are annually or every other year.

Reputable rental companies provide equipment whose calibration interval does not expire during your rental period and include calibration certificates with rental. By renting equipment, you no longer worry about tracking the calibration maintenance interval of your instruments or discovering your meters need to be sent off for fresh factory calibration, as you are preparing to use them.

As a renter, you don’t need to plan for product life-cycle, cost-of-ownership issues. As technology advances, equipment becomes obsolete or outdated, and you might need to update firmware or replace accessories (like windscreens or batteries) for equipment you own. Renters always have access to up-to-date, calibrated tools and accessories in good condition.

Rental is a good way to try before you buy. There’s no better way to know if a tool is for you than trying it in your own facility, prior to purchasing. (Photo courtesy Larson Davis, a division of PCB Piezotronics, Inc.)

2. Ensure You’re Testing to Current Standards

Best-in-class meters often include built-in measurement setups that adhere to recognized standards. This can help with making measurement setups easy, but standards evolve over time, which can require updates to measurement equipment to ensure standards compliance is always met. Rental companies update firmware frequently, ensuring that any built-in standards and automatic settings for exchange rates or thresholds are correct and current.

3. Flexible Terms

Whether you can complete your noise measurements in just a day or two—or need the equipment longer—there are rental schedules that can meet your needs. If you’re not sure how long your testing will take, in many cases, you can extend the rental as long as needed. Make sure to consult with your rental team to understand specific terms and processes.

4. Immediate Availability

Rental houses typically have available equipment in stock and can get it to you quickly. They might also be affiliated or work closely with manufacturers, so you have immediate access and helpful resources, as well as access to the newest meters on the market. While there is often a local rental option, many companies make the ordering and shipping process fast and easy with next-day or two-day shipping service.

Renting noise-measurement tools, such as sound level meters and noise dosimeters, is a good alternative option to owning them. (Photo courtesy Larson Davis, a division of PCB Piezotronics, Inc.)

5. Get Testing Done Quickly

Most industrial hygienists and occupational health experts manage multiple tasks, and noise studies are only a part of the day’s workload. The newest technological advancements in dosimeters and meters incorporate wireless functionality—offering both remote observation of exposure levels in real-time and automatic data download when the measurement is complete—saving time and money. Some rental companies can even assist these efforts by providing guidance on data management and reporting capabilities.

6. Benefit from Technical Support

Much like a manufacturer, a rental group should be able to assist in selecting the best equipment to match your needs. Look for a team that also offers technical consultation on the products they rent. They should have technical phone support at the ready, in the event of questions or issues. The newest measurement tools are intuitive and easy to use, so you might not need these services. But when you do, this kind of support is critical to success.

Renting noise-monitoring equipment means you can keep up with the latest technological advancements in dosimeters and meters—including wireless functionality. (Photo courtesy Larson Davis, a division of PCB Piezotronics, Inc.)

7. Try Out New Equipment in Your Facility with Minimal Expense

Rental is a good way to try before you buy. There’s no better way to know if a tool is for you than trying it in your own facility, prior to deciding to purchase. If you are considering purchasing meters or just need to supplement your existing owned fleet due to fluctuating demand, rental can be a wise option. In many cases, rental payments (or some portion of thereof) can apply to subsequent costs to purchase.

8. Avoid Capital Expense

Rental allows an immediate expense deduction—no capital purchase authorization or depreciation calculations are required. Equipment rental is most often seen as an operational expense, rather than a capital expenditure, which can be beneficial in some situations.

Whether you’re looking for a low-stakes way to try some new equipment; a way to expand your capabilities more quickly; or experiencing a budget crunch for purchase—renting sound level meters or noise dosimeters for industrial hygiene applications just makes sense.

About the Author:

Carol Case, BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, is a Technical Marketing Specialist at Larson Davis, a division of PCB Piezotronics, Inc.

[1] Occupational Noise Exposure. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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