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Vanguard to invest $6 million in automaton at Georgia facility

Briggs & Stratton, one of the world’s largest producers of engines for outdoor power equipment, is making an additional investment of $6 million in its Advanced Battery Manufacturing facility in Tucker, Georgia, to improve the safety, efficiency and production capacity of its Vanguard Lithium-Ion Battery Packs through the addition of automated equipment within its manufacturing process.

The 78,000-square-foot facility opened in 2020 to support a strategic supply agreement with Ingersoll Rand to power Club Car vehicles with Vanguard Lithium-Ion Battery Packs.

The Tucker location includes four production lines with the capacity to accommodate future growth as the demand for battery power continues to grow across the off-highway industry.

Chris Davison, marketing director — electrification at Briggs & Stratton, says: “This significant investment further cements our commitment to bringing the most robust, reliable battery packs to market.

“The addition of automation to our manufacturing processes will help to streamline and strengthen our production capacity but also further ensure the safety of those working on the assembly line.

“With the addition of strategic automation enhancements, the state-of-the-art Tucker facility will elevate the level of service, support and expertise we are able to provide to our OEM stakeholders as they seek to integrate battery power into their equipment.”

In response to the growing Vanguard battery portfolio, the Tucker facility is expanding its manufacturing processes to accommodate the production of different packs and configurations.

The automated equipment will enable all of the facility’s assembly lines to build the different battery pack models and configurations.

Safety is a top priority for Vanguard, and the addition of automation builds on the company’s commitment to safety — from the start of the development and testing process all the way through to the manufacturing and application of its battery and commercial engine products.

Automation will add an additional layer of safety to the manufacturing process as it helps to address ergonomic strain on operators due to repetitive motion, limit the exposure of operators to sensitive materials, and ensure that material handling requirements are met.

Christopher Bonham, plant manager at Briggs & Stratton, says: “We’ll be using advanced safety devices, controls and equipment to ensure that we’re not only making a quality product, but also keeping our operators and technicians safe in the process.”

With the addition of automated equipment, Bonham also anticipates improved quality levels and production performance due to the removal of variation throughout the manufacturing process.

Bonham says: “Automation allows us to minimize the occurrence of inevitable human error in assembly.

“The best way for us to address potential quality and safety issues that could arise from working with sensitive battery cells is to eliminate risk. This is one method of achieving that.

“It also helps us streamline and simplify our processes, improve scheduling, and pivot more quickly to meet customer demand. We will see efficiency improvements between three and ten times.”

Vanguard offers a competitive range of battery power solutions in both fixed (Fi Series) and swappable (Si Series) configurations, including a 1.5kWh power option in the Si Series and 3.5kWh, 3.8kWh, 5kWh, 7kWh and 10kWh power options in the Fi Series.

Vanguard Lithium-Ion Battery Packs are designed to be modular and are available in different configurations to meet specific application requirements across markets.

As Briggs & Stratton continues to invest in the growth of its electrification offerings, the addition of automated equipment to its manufacturing processes creates opportunities for employees to gain knowledge and training on in-demand technical jobs as the Tucker facility grows other areas of its operations.

The new automated equipment will begin operation in early spring 2023. Bonham and his team are excited for the new opportunities the addition of automation at the Tucker location will bring.

Bonham says: “This investment shows Briggs & Stratton’s commitment to electrification as well as to the Tucker facility and our workforce here.

“It’s a significant investment and vote of confidence for the products we’re building. We have a great future ahead as both our team and product lineup continue to grow.”

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