Cummins’ Testing Center Keeps New Generators Hush, Hush

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Cummins testing center keeps new generators hush hush

Distributors and customers gather at the Cummins Power Generation Acoustical Testing Center (ATC) in Fridley, Minn., in 2013 to witness the new Connect™ series generators in action. The ATC has helped Cummins engineers design extremely quiet generators.

When you’re trying to build one of the market’s quietest generators, it helps to have one of the world’s largest acoustical testing centers in the power generation business.

Cummins Power Generation’s test center in suburban Minneapolis, Minn., is playing a key role in the Company’s entry into the residential and light commercial marketplace with the 2013 introduction of the Cummins’ QuietConnect™ and PowerConnect™ generators.

“The Acoustical Testing Center allows us to be very precise in our testing, which helps us to produce a generator that is extremely quiet,” said Dr. Shashikant More, a Cummins engineer who works at the center and has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering with a specialization in acoustics. “The center was one of the things that attracted me to come here.”

With its distinctive curved roof and sound-absorbing acoustical wedges throughout the interior, the test center eliminates unwanted noise, leaving just sound from whatever is being tested to be precisely measured and evaluated.

Opened in the fall of 2011, the test center, known around the Company as the “ATC,” is also temperature and humidity controlled. So Cummins engineers can conduct testing any time of year and be confident that conditions are identical to the time when they tested earlier.

Cummins Power Generation engineers will frequently test individual fans and other components in different combinations until they reach an integrated system that makes the least possible noise while producing the power customers need.

The Company’s work to reduce noise, however, typically starts well before anything is tested in the ATC.  Cummins engineers first use acoustical noise modeling to explore different ideas on a computer before going to the time and expense of building a prototype and testing it in the ATC. This two-pronged approach enables Cummins Power Generation to study a wide variety of possible solutions in a way that’s extremely cost effective.

Still, there’s nothing like a little anecdotal evidence to validate an idea. While Cummins engineers had all kinds of statistics to back them up, they knew their efforts on the Connect series had been successful when a group of visiting distributors invited to see the generators in action in 2013 asked if the generator in the ATC was actually turned on.

Why all the attention to sound? The QuietConnect and PowerConnect generators will provide standby power to homes and businesses. In more than 500 separate interviews before Cummins engineers went to work, potential customers made it clear they wanted efficient and quiet standby power.

But unwanted noise is more than just an annoyance for homeowners and small businesses. It’s increasingly regulated, especially by local governments seeking to maintain the quality of life within their jurisdictions.

While it doesn’t yet approach the regulation of engine emissions by agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, noise regulations are a growing concern for many consumers.

Of course, first and foremost, customers want a reliable generator that will keep their families safe and businesses running during power outages. The Connect series, powered by the reliable Cummins QSJ2.4 engine, delivers output ratings from 22 to 60 kilowatts in a natural gas or propane fuel option. They are designed and tested to perform under extreme temperatures and at high altitude and include a durable, corrosion resistant enclosure able to withstand winds up to 150 miles-per-hour.

And in keeping with the Company’s mission to demand that “everything we do leads to a cleaner, healthier, safer environment,” the generators meet all EPA emission regulations for emergency and standby generators.

“Now, it’s easier and more affordable than ever for homeowners and business owners to enjoy the peace of mind that reliable backup power from Cummins Power Generation can provide,” said Cummins Vice President Tony Satterthwaite, President – Cummins Power Generation, in launching the new Connect series.

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