Briggs & Stratton's Auburn, Ala., plant is changing its manufacturing program to produce twin-cylinder engines exclusively. Since it opened in 1995, the plant has produced a variety of engine designs but earlier this year the Milwaukee-based manufacturer of gas engines for outdoor power equipment reassigned production of smaller engines to a plant in Chongqing, China. As a result, the Alabama operation will produce V-twin engines for riding mowers sold under Ariens, Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna, John Deere, Simplicity, and Snapper brands.
Demand for V-twin engines has increased in recent years, Briggs & Stratton noted, as result of U.S. homeowners and lawn service companies preference for “zero-turn” riding mowers and lawn tractors. It introduced two new twin-engine products — the Professional Series™ and Commercial Turf Series™ engines, both produced in Auburn — to enter the premium and commercial segments of the riding mower market and will increase output of those products as demand is expected to remain strong.
In addition to increasing its twin-cylinder engine production, the Auburn plant has expanded its continuous improvement efforts by adopting Lean manufacturing methods to address process flow and wastes issues. It also uses Six Sigma methodology to focus on product variation and design opportunities.
"Customers are aware of our continuing efforts to manufacture quality v-twin engines,” according to Russ Stone, plant manager, “and they are particularly pleased with the fact that we can deliver an engine made in the U.S.A., at a facility located in Auburn, Ala.”
Briggs & Stratton said the Commercial Turf Series engine it introduced in 2010, and that now powers several mower brands, demonstrates its focus on developing new products for the commercial and “prosumer” markets. Its patented integrated Cyclonic Air Management System involves a five-step process to keep grass, dust and debris out of the engine, extending engine life.
"The Commercial Turf Series has performed well for us,” according to v.p. of North American Operations Dave DeBaets. “This engine has helped Briggs & Stratton gain placements on more commercial-grade products sold through specialty power equipment dealers."