Tucked away in one of our buildings in Wauwatosa is Briggs & Stratton’s acoustics lab. The lab was built in 1972 and until recently, the acoustics engineers there worked in relative anonymity. But in the past few months these folks have become the rock stars of Briggs & Stratton. With recent interest from media across the county (Including The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) in our new Quiet Power Technology™ engine, the media has become interested in the workings of our acoustics lab.
The Sound of Small Engine Mechanics
While the set-up of the lab may change depending upon the standards being tested, the heart of the sound lab is a large room padded with brown fiberglass wedges that are about three feet deep. This material absorbs the noise so there is no reflection from walls or hard surfaces, mimicking the noise as the lawn mower, snow blower, portable generator or pressure washer would sound outside. And speaking of outside, the room is equipped with a ventilation system that turns the air over every minute with fresh air from outside – a critical safety factor when we’re running gas-powered engines in there. This allows the engineers to run the small engines without the need for any obstructive devices in the exhaust, more closely replicating the way the engines are used in outside as outdoor power equipment.
In addition to the four team members who spend a lot of time in the sound lab, there is also Steve, our resident dummy. Steve is equipped with sensitive microphones and can record and play back, sound files of what an engine sounds like mowing the lawn, snow blowing or power washing. Then our software allows us to identify and filter certain sounds to test with consumers to see what sounds are problematic and which aren’t. Based on years of research with consumers, the Briggs & Stratton sound gurus can now accurately predict which tones and sound levels consumers will accept, or reject.
This knowledge allows the acoustic engineers to work with our Research & Development, and production engineers to bring real improvement and innovations to the small engine category. We have 40 years of noise know-how under our belt and the new QPT™ engine, the quiet lawn mower engine, is just the latest innovation that the sound lab team has tested. Stay tuned, we expect that you’ll be hearing more exciting noise from the sound lab soon.