Technologies inside: Power regeneration system, power not heat

Case study technologies: Briggs & Stratton worked with Rockwell Automation to develop a new power regeneration system that captures wasted energy, expects to save $50,000 per year, and modernizes data collection and control system using variable frequency drives, programmable logic controller, industrial energy management software, human-machine interface, and historian software from Rockwell Automation.


Lawn mower and small engine parts manufacturer Briggs & Stratton was spending over $1 million in fuel costs alone to run engine endurance tests in its labs. To cut costs and realize the power wasted in heat from existing dynamometers, Briggs & Stratton worked with Rockwell Automation to develop a new power regeneration system using Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 700 VFDs and Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PAC, along with Rockwell Software RSEnergyMetrix software and FactoryTalk View and FactoryTalk Historian software from Rockwell Automation.

Rockwell Automation had the “necessary domain expertise and project management experience,” said Richard Feustel, corporate energy services manager, Briggs & Stratton. Company stability and a long-standing relationship “helped to minimize the risk for a new technology project,” Feustel said.

Rockwell Automation engineers worked with the local utility company, We Energies, to accommodate both power flows.

“Rockwell Automation walked a roomful of us through hours of whiteboarding, explaining options on how to enter, acquire, and share data. Everybody who would be affected by the conversion had an opportunity to contribute,” Feustel said.

Each of 12 test stands is run by an alternating current (ac) motor using an Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 700 variable frequency drive from Rockwell Automation.

Allen-Bradley ControlLogix programmable automation controller from Rockwell Automation is connected via an Ethernet network.

With FactoryTalk View software from Rockwell Automation, engineers and technicians can view critical, real-time information on engine load, speed, temperature, test-run time, oil-use rates, and other critical variables on any industrial computer in the lab. FactoryTalk Historian software from Rockwell Automation automatically captures that real-time data for analysis using Microsoft Excel, and technicians can identify any trending for use by reliability engineers.

Briggs & Stratton also invested in Rockwell Software RSEnergyMetrix software from Rockwell Automation, a comprehensive Web-based application that logs and analyzes energy-use data within a single plant or from multiple, related sites. The Energy Management Team at Briggs & Stratton uses the software to gather information about electrical, gas, and steam usage from Rockwell Automation Powermonitors installed around the Milwaukee campus. Energy managers can access that information in the RSEnergyMetrix software, and create reports about energy-use trends to share with the various departments in the plant. This information helps identify top-priority power issues.

“It made perfect sense to invest in RSEnergyMetrix software so we could benchmark our power use and track our savings. Before, the only information we had about our energy use came in our electrical bills,” Feustel said.

“Rockwell Automation really knew their stuff in this application. We could not have pulled it off without their engineering expertise and outstanding attention to detail,” Feustel said. “Their technical expertise, patience, and guidance made this go extremely well.”

Briggs & Stratton is quickly expanding its use of RSEnergyMetrix software, and its ability to track, analyze, and visualize energy-use data from multiple locations. The company has installed a dozen power monitors in its Milwaukee facility that feed information into the RSEnergyMetrix software. Soon, Briggs & Stratton plans to put five monitors in its plant in Murray, Ky., and within five years expects to place them in the company’s 10 other manufacturing facilities worldwide.

“With the Web-based system, we can view other plants’ metrics and track our energy usage and spending across the enterprise,” Feustel explained. “Adding onto this global dashboard from Rockwell Automation is so easy, it simplifies the process of becoming even more sustainable.”

The results mentioned above are specific to Briggs & Stratton’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services. Specific results may vary for other customers.

- Information from Rockwell Automation, edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer,

To see photos and for more details about the application, rewards, and return on investment, read below:

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