Environmental Test Lab for Applications Testing

November 7, 2022

Kohler Engines - Kohler, WI

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Project Features:
R&D Applications Lab, Environmental Test Chamber, Climatic Test Chamber, DAQ and Controls Upgrade, Engine Testing, Custom Carts for Units Under Test (UUT), Fuel Storage and Fuel Safety Systems


Hot climatic test chambers run multiple tests simultaneously

The Challenge

Longstanding market leader Kohler makes power products such as engines and generators for specific applications and products ranging widely from outdoor power equipment, welders, pressure washers, garden tractors, and other items. To address the distinct power design needs for every client and product, Kohler requires an applications lab that provides extensive testing capabilities for unique product demonstrations and concurrent interface with clients. This multipurpose lab needs to allow for collaboration between Kohler and its customers for testing engines that are tailored to the customer’s specific application requirements. In addition, customers must be able to witness testing for final approval. This is a key component to building trust and lasting relationships, consistent with Kohler’s mission.

Previously, Kohler’s new product development and applications work was conducted in a shared space, which compromised workflow, reduced testing availability, and created cumbersome processes for client collaboration and confidentiality. This caused delays in new product releases and delays in meeting customer commitments. The previous facility layout challenges included:

  • A fit-up area that was too small for a growing product line, such as larger diesel projects
  • Cumbersome workflow and client confidentiality process
  • Environmental chambers with competing priorities
  • Insufficient equipment storage

The Solution

ACS first worked with Kohler’s key stakeholders on front end planning (FEP) to fully define the requirements of the testing facility, alongside scope, schedule, and budget of design and construction. Armed with a roadmap to align stakeholders, ACS oversaw demolition of Kohler’s existing space and held single source responsibility for the design, equipment specification and procurement, construction, integration, and commissioning of the lab. ACS designed and built the new 15,000 sq ft applications lab within an existing facility near the current new product development lab space to ensure continuity between the two functions.

The scope of design and construction included engineering test rooms, controls, and all infrastructure systems. Facility and infrastructure improvements included installation of 1-ton and 3-ton cranes, electric floor lifts, and a shop fabrication area.

Outcome

The new applications lab has increased Kohler’s capabilities for testing a wider range and size of products including small spark-ignited engines and compression ignited engines up to 130HP. These testing capabilities reinforce Kohler’s goal to serve clients across current and growing markets with a range of power solutions in one seamless facility. The applications lab streamlines workflow for testing, and also supports efficient and confidential product demonstration central to client collaboration and a quality experience consistent with the Kohler brand.

Key Features

Facility:

  • New 15,000sf applications lab built within existing manufacturing facility
  • Engineering, weld, fabrication workshops, paint booth
  • Work bays including lifts and confidential space
  • Fuel storage building
  • Pre-soak rooms

Supporting Utilities/Infrastructure:

  • Repurposed fuel tanks exterior to building
  • Enclosed exterior storage building
  • Wash bay at entrance to building
  • Load banks, with remotely adjustable load capability

Test Equipment and Systems:

  • Climatic Environmental Chambers – Hot and Cold
    • Humidity controlled HVAC
    • Observation window
    • Ability to run multiple tests simultaneously
    • Variable load hydraulic system
  • Custom Carts
    • Accommodates a variety of units under test (UUT)
    • Increased efficiency due to quicker set up of UUT

Controls for Test and Infrastructure Systems

ACS Services

Turnkey delivery of applications test lab beginning with Front End Planning to align scope, schedule, and budget. ACS managed all phases of design, demolition, engineering, construction, and commissioning.