JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A.O. Smith Water Products Co. has dedicated a new engineering design center that will serve as the focal point for its residential water heating development efforts.

The 26,500-square-foot facility is designed to provide product development, testing, and certification support to all of A.O. Smith’s wholesale and retail residential water heater brands.

“This new facility underscores A.O. Smith’s long-standing commitment to being the innovation leader in the water heating industry,” said Kevin Wheeler, senior vice president and general manager of U.S. Retail Water Heaters.

“It consolidates all of our residential product development activities in one center and significantly expands our testing capabilities. We have aggressive product development plans for all of our North American brands, and this gives us the resources to deliver the innovative products our customers want and need.”

The engineering design center features:

• A total of 20 development stations used for water heater performance testing, safety testing, and certification work to achieve regulatory approvals. Each stand is equipped with water, natural gas and propane service, and electrical;

• A total of 72 reliability test cells for accelerated life testing of residential water heaters;

• Ten specialized Department of Energy (DOE) test cells that monitor and record water heater efficiency to comply with federal government regulations;

• Two specialized test rooms used in the development of flammable vapor ignition resistant gas water heaters; and

• An indoor wind lab that is used to test the venting systems of gas water heaters that are vented outdoors.

The engineering center also includes a model shop that builds prototype units and fabricates specialized components used in development programs. Plans call for obtaining CSA-International certification for the new center later this year.

Publication date:03/31/2008