Local partners aid drive towards innovation and continuous improvement.
Since its opening in August 1995, the Briggs & Stratton (NYSE: BGG) plant in Auburn, Ala. has manufactured a wide range of products. Now, starting its 18th year of production, the team at Auburn – over 400 employees strong – will switch from flexible to focused, as the plant transitions from producing multiple products to becoming a dedicated V-twin (twin cylinder) engine manufacturing facility to better meet marketplace needs.
In recent years, the demand for V-twin engines has increased as more U.S. homeowners and commercial lawn service companies have sought to buy zero-turn riding mowers and premium lawn tractors. The Auburn facility has increased production to keep pace with this change in consumer preferences and demand for v-twin engines is expected to remain strong. As this trend towards v-twin engines evolved, Briggs & Stratton launched new products such as the Professional Series™ and Commercial Turf Series™ engines, both produced in Auburn, to penetrate the premium and commercial segments of the riding mower market.
The Commercial Turf Series™ engine exemplifies the focus that Briggs & Stratton has placed on developing innovative new products for the commercial and prosumer market segments. The patented integrated Cyclonic Air Management System provides a five-step debris management process to keep grass, dust and debris out of the engine, extending engine life. Introduced in 2010, the Commercial Turf Series engine now powers several popular zero-turn mower brands. “The Commercial Turf Series has performed well for us. This engine has helped Briggs & Stratton gain placements on more commercial-grade products sold through specialty power equipment dealers,” said Dave DeBaets, Vice President of North American Operations.
While the drive to innovate has ramped up, the team at Auburn has also boosted its continuous improvement efforts. The plant utilizes a Lean Six Sigma methodology that utilizes lean manufacturing to address process flow and wastes issues, and Six Sigma, to focus on variation and design opportunities. These complementary disciplines help the Auburn plant delivery a very high quality product to the market. Recently, the continuous improvement team even partnered with Alabama Power on a week-long event to identify energy saving opportunities that could lead to significant cost savings for the plant. “Customers are aware of our continuing efforts to manufacture quality v-twin engines. And they are particularly pleased with the fact that we can deliver an engine made in the USA, at a facility located in Auburn, Alabama”, said Russ Stone, plant manager for Briggs & Stratton.
Briggs & Stratton is a Top 5 employer in the Auburn-Opelika region and has been actively involved in community activities such as Habitat for Humanity, the United Way, and Rebuilding Together, as well as being a long-running sponsor of the Fourth of July fireworks for the City of Auburn. The Company also has a long standing relationship with Auburn University, working collaboratively on many engineering projects over the years. Mayor Bill Ham, Jr. said “Briggs & Stratton is an example of what a great corporate citizen can mean to a community, and they are an important piece of the local workforce and economy. I look forward to their continued success as they evolve to meet the changing needs of their customers through their Auburn plant.”
These Briggs & Stratton® engines manufactured in Auburn, Ala., using U.S. and global parts, power several popular riding mower brands including Ariens, Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna, John Deere, Simplicity, and Snapper. To learn more about why engines matter, visit EnginesMatter.com.
Briggs & Stratton Corporation, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment. Its wholly owned subsidiary Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group LLC is North America’s number one manufacturer of portable generators and pressure washers, and is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of home standby generators, along with lawn and garden and turf care through its Simplicity®, Snapper®, Ferris® and Murray® brands. Briggs & Stratton products are designed, manufactured, marketed and serviced in over 100 countries on six continents.