A noise evaluation was conducted on a pharmacy robot installed at the pharmacy of the Sentara RMH Medical Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The pharmacy robot provides automated dispensing of medication to hospital patients. The objective of the noise evaluation was to characterize the sound field and vibration characteristics of the pharmacy robot and recommend noise abatement treatments to reduce the noise transmission to the radiologist office located directly below of the pharmacy.
The noise and vibration characteristics of the pharmacy robot were quantified. The A-weighted sound pressure levels of the robot peaked around 63.5 dBA at the pharmacy. The major noise components of the robot were due to the linear motion on the rail and the robotic arm rotation. It was observed that the low-frequency noise and vibration, from 40 Hz to 630 Hz, were effectively transmitted to the radiologist office directly below the pharmacy.
The recommended noise abatement treatments were to install vibration pads on the linear rail mounts of the robot and high STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating ceiling tile barrier in the ceiling of the radiologist office. Vibration pads to provide small deflection were recommended for this application. Mass loaded vinyl tiles, such as the PrivacyShield Ceiling Tile Barriers, were recommended to minimize the noise and vibration transmission through the floor of the pharmacy.
After installation of PrivacyShield® Ceiling Tiles, the A-weighted sound pressure levels of the pharmacy robot were about 44.5 dBA at the radiologist office. Prior to the installation of PrivacyShield Ceiling Tiles, the A-weighted sound pressure levels of the robot were from 45.7 dBA to 48.9 dBA. The PrivacyShield Ceiling Tiles showed a noise reduction of 1.2 dBA to 4.4 dBA. The difference in noise spectral levels before and after the installation of PrivacyShield was as high as 10 dB at 80 Hz.
As shown in the chart on this page, the pharmacy robot noise measured in the radiologist office is within NC (Noise Criteria) Curve 25 and NC Curve 40. As a noise reference or standard, office should have an NC Curve between 25 and 40.
Due to precise alignment of linear rail and longer control settling time issues, vibration pads have not been installed on the mounts of the pharmacy robot yet.
The objective of this project was to characterize the sound field and vibration characteristics of the pharmacy robot and recommend noise abatement treatments to reduce the noise transmission to the radiologist office located directly below of the pharmacy. Based on the acoustical assessment and noise analysis, acoustic treatment approach was recommended. The service provided included:
The radiologists desire to work in an absolute quiet environment. Any noise and vibration disturbances are undesirable. Noise and vibration reduction using vibration pads on the mount of the pharmacy robot is complicated and challenging.
The key issues are:
“The Pharmacy at Sentara RMH Medical Center has installed a new state-of-the-art pharmacy robot for automated dispensing of patient medications. The hospital is the second in the world to install the pharmacy robot. The pharmacy robot replaces the hospital’s previous robot that met the hospital’s needs for the past 17 years. The new robot has the capacity to hold more than 60,000 doses of medication—compared to the 12,000 doses that the previous robot held—and is being utilized to handle patient-specific medication needs by advanced algorithms and robotic technology. With its increased storage capacity and accurate inventory control, the pharmacy robot reduces the need for handling of medications by technicians and pharmacists, giving them more time to focus on patient-care needs.
The pharmacy robot’s advanced algorithms increase throughput and ensures that earliest expiring medications are selected first, reducing medication waste. The robot’s barcode system also reduces the opportunity for human error. Additionally, the new robot also improves efficiency on patient floors in the hospital.