Briggs & Stratton opens new Noise, Vibration and Harshness lab

Photo: Briggs & StrattonPhoto: Briggs & Stratton

To continue its work in creating quieter engines for all, Briggs & Stratton has recently opened its new Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) lab at the company’s headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The NVH lab features automotive-grade technology with the goal to accelerate testing and create long-lasting Vanguard commercial engines. According to Briggs & Stratton, the facility exceeds the testing capabilities of other small engine manufactures.

The lab includes two sound-testing chambers. One is used for vibration testing and detailed analysis, while a larger chamber designed for certification testing will be used to ensure the engines meet domestic and international noise regulation compliance.

The larger chamber will also be used for comprehensive tests with the engine mounted in a lawn mower or construction equipment to better replicate operating conditions. An advanced air handling system permits extensive indoor testing thanks to it exchanging 100 percent of the chamber’s air every minute.

Data is collected in both sound chambers with an isolated dynamometer, which prevents noise from the device from interfering with engine noise. The company does dynamometer sound testing to help the engineers design the engines with a more pleasing tone and pitch to improve operator comfort.

In the previous NVH lab, Briggs & Stratton employees developed the Quiet Power Technology, which is found in residential lawn mower engines, making them 60 percent quieter than competitor models. The new facility will allow the company to continue to advance this technology and develop solutions for consumer and commercial needs.

Along with new modern technologies, the facility is staffed with a team of seven veteran acoustic engineers and senior-level technicians who have more than 140 years of combined experience. They are led by Brett Birschbach, NVH engineering manager, who has more than 15 years of NVH experience along with NVH testing experience in the automotive industry.

“Our team of engineers and application specialists are continually looking to improve productivity, engine performance and user comfort,” Birschbach said. “We put our engines through a rigorous testing protocol to ensure the quietest and smoothest running designs.”

Aside from the sound testing elements, the new lab also has two primary vibration tests. One uses an accelerometer to measure the degree of how much engine vibration will be transferred to a machine. The other uses an electro-dynamic shaker to replicate real-world conditions.

Product life expectancy for specific parts can be determined with the electro-dynamic shaker, simulating 1,000 hours of use in only 300 hours. If a part failure or a vibration concern is noted, the engineers can modify the design and then run the test again until the engine performs optimally for its intended application.

“At the center of all Briggs & Stratton innovation is the voice of our customers, whether that’s professionals or homeowners, and the No. 1 thing they want in engines, along with reliability, is less noise,” said Rick Zeckmeister, vice president of marketing and planning for Briggs & Stratton. “This is an area where we have made significant strides thanks to great engineers and the NVH lab. 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 that helps us push the industry to new heights.”

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