Adding acoustic to your security service card

Peter Janis
Friday May 26, 2017
Written by Peter Janis
Peter Janis
Peter Janis
Growing a business requires more than hard work; it requires thinking about new business opportunities and leveraging what you already have in place to produce a positive outcome.

There is a book titled “Blue Ocean Strategies” that describes very successful businesses that have combined one business such as security with another, in this case acoustic materials, to create an all new business opportunity.

Consider the following: How often have you gone to a restaurant to enjoy a nice evening with good food, good wine and conversation only to discover the place is so noisy that you cannot sustain a conversation with your friends across the table? Zagat — the restaurant rating people — recently conducted a survey asking patrons what they disliked most about restaurants. Not surprisingly, the No. 1 complaint was poor service. The No. 2 complaint was noise. Yes, noise rated higher than bad food.

By mounting absorptive acoustic panels to the wall surface area, you will significantly reduce the ambient noise to the point where you can turn a loud uncomfortable restaurant into a quiet, enjoyable place to eat. Restaurants are but one of many noisy places that can benefit from noise treatment: offices, call centres, hotel and bank lobbies, ticket counters, 9-1-1 operations, bus stations, boardrooms and video-conferencing facilities are just a small snapshot of the huge market that awaits. And interestingly enough, although acoustic treatment has been around for well over 100 years, only now are folks beginning to appreciate the benefits.

As a security contractor, you bring several key advantages to the table. First off, you have a huge customer base that knows and trusts your company. Second, you have a team with strong technical skills who can be trained. Third, you have a qualified field staff that already services the market and can easily add acoustic panel installations to their daily tasks. In other words, you already have all of the tools you need to embark into this new venture, you merely need to be indoctrinated into the science of acoustics.

Sound is made up of vibrations that travel through various mediums such as air, water and walls. When it arrives at our ears, our brain translates these vibrations into codes that our we decipher as voice, music and noise. When speaking outside, unless you are in the Grand Canyon, the sound of our voice travels in an outward direction, eventually ending up in space.

In an enclosed room, sound reflects off hard surfaces such as the gypsum walls, glass windows, metal ceiling and tiled floor, as it has no place to go. For instance, a loud restaurant does not start out this way. When only a couple of people are in the room, the noise levels are low. But as the room fills, patrons begin to speak louder in order to overcome other voices in the room. The music playback system is turned up, waiters begin to yell out orders, patrons elevate their voices further and noise from all of these sources ricochet back into the room creating a cacophony that self-perpetuates to the point where you cannot sustain a conversation. You eat dinner and on the drive home, vow to never go back again.

Solving the problem is easy. By mounting 2” thick acoustic panels to 15 to 20 per cent of the wall surfaces, you will absorb the excess energy — essentially providing the room with a release valve. The type of panel you mount is important. High performance acoustic panels provide maximum absorption, thus reducing the panel count and subsequent installation cost. They are made from high density 6lb glass wool and are fully encapsulated in micromesh with resin hardened edges to eliminate dusting. The panel is then wrapped in an acoustically transparent polyester tweed fabric to protect the panel from abuse and add a degree of architectural flare. A new generation is now available that allows the acoustic panels to be painted on-site to blend in with the room décor.

You can also transfer digital images to the panels to turn them into art. Sound energy in the form of vibrations enter the panel and cause the minute glass wool fibres to vibrate, essentially turning sound into heat. High density glass wool panels absorb sound energy evenly across the audio spectrum making them effective at controlling noise from the HVAC system, loud voices and music. Placement is not critical as the noise is reflecting off every hard surface.

Mounting panels is as easy as putting up a picture. If wall space is limited, you can suspend baffles from the ceiling using adjustable aircraft cables. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes to address various architectural tastes. Ceiling clouds and baffles are in fact twice as effective as wall panels as they absorb both the direct sound from the patrons on the floor, but also the sound as it reflects off the ceiling.

Care should be taken to avoid conflicts with lights, HVAC ducts and fire sprinklers. Attention should also be given to sourcing products from credible companies. For instance, you want to make sure that you read the acoustic performance tests to ensure that they have been conducted by an independent lab and will in fact work within the frequencies you are looking to absorb. You also want to ensure the panels have been tested to meet ASTM class-A or CAN/UL-S102 ratings for flame spread and smoke development and are for safe use in public areas.

Best of all, when an emergency occurs, and the PA system is being used to communicate orders such as evacuation, the echo in the room will not inhibit the PA system’s ability to perform. The message will come out clearly with maximum intelligibility, thus elevating the safety and security for all of those inside.

Recommending and installing acoustic panels is easy, relatively affordable, and can add a very profitable niche to your existing security business.

Peter Janis is the CEO of Primacoustic, based in Port Coquitlam, B.C. (www.primacoustic.com).

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