Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power recently opened the doors on one of the most innovative engine testing facilities in the industry. The new noise, vibration and harshness lab incorporates automotive-grade technology to accelerate testing and create highly productive, long-lasting commercial engines. The facility’s unrivaled capacity and capabilities help OEMs deliver equipment to the market in less time while backed by the most thorough testing available.
“Our team of engineers and application specialists are continually looking to improve productivity, engine performance and user comfort,” says Brett Birschbach, NVH Engineering Manager, Briggs & Stratton Corporation. “We put our engines through a rigorous testing protocol to ensure the quietest and smoothest running designs.”
The new NVH facility not only offers state-of-the-art testing chambers but also an experienced team of engineers and senior-level technicians. The team of seven, led by Birschbach, has more than 140 years of combined experience. Birschbach has more than 15 years of NVH experience with direct experience in NVH testing in the automotive industry.
The equipment and software used in the new facility is sourced from the latest technology developed for the automotive industry. It exceeds the testing capabilities of any other small engine manufacturer by extending beyond simply testing the engine alone. The enhanced NVH lab enables testing of the engine while integrated into the equipment. This provides valuable data on the engine and allows OEMs to expedite their path to market. In some cases, testing can be completed in just 30 percent of the time it would take with industry-standard equipment. The reduced time required for testing decreases costs for OEMs and, in turn, their customers.
The new lab includes two sound-testing chambers: a standard chamber for vibration testing and detailed analysis and a larger chamber designed for certification testing, where Vanguard engineers test for domestic and international noise regulation compliance.
Vanguard uses the large chamber to conduct comprehensive tests with the engine mounted to a piece of equipment. This allows engineers to better replicate actual operating conditions. Extensive indoor testing is possible because of an advanced air handling system that exchanges 100 percent of the chamber’s air every minute.
In both sound chambers, data is gathered using a dynamometer isolated in a sealed area below the floor. By isolating the dynamometer, noise from the device cannot interfere with engine noise, ensuring consistent and reliable measurements. Dynamometer sound testing is done not only to measure volume but also to help engineers design engines with a more pleasing tone and pitch, which improves operator comfort as well as lessens concerns when working in residential neighborhoods or populated areas.
Vanguard’s NVH lab also conducts two primary vibration tests. The first uses an accelerometer to measure the degree to which an engine’s vibration will transfer to a piece of equipment. The second tests for potential component failure using an electro-dynamic shaker to replicate real-world, application-specific conditions.
The electro-dynamic shaker test is conducted to determine product life expectancy for specific parts and components. If a part failure occurs, or vibration concern is noted, engineers can modify designs to counteract the problem. For example, a component’s weight distribution may be re-engineered to counteract vibration. After changes are made, technicians repeat the tests to ensure that the engine will perform optimally for its intended application. The lab’s advanced electro-dynamic shaker makes it possible for engineers to replicate the effects of 1,000 hours of real-world operation in only 300 hours.
“We’ve led the way in NVH testing since the early 1970s, and I’m proud that we continue to implement the latest testing equipment. This reflects our ongoing commitment to improving productivity and comfort for our customers,” says Jim Cross, Marketing Manager, Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power. “The technology we use helps Vanguard develop engines that are among the most refined and durable products for the commercial engine market.”
The facility in Milwaukee, WI, replaces the former NVH lab, built in 1972.