An ice chamber tests product endurance in extreme cold and ice conditions.

    Johnson Controls Expands, Upgrades Wichita Testing Lab

    Aug. 4, 2021
    Seven testing chambers have been added to what is now 100,000 sq. ft. of testing space.

    MILWAUKEE , Wisc. —  Johnson Controls has significantly upgraded the testing lab facilities at its residential HVAC manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kan.

    The nearly $15 million investment includes the addition of seven test chambers, automated testing and model shop equipment, and a new building, which adds 2,000 more square footage, bringing the plant’s total testing facility space to 100,000 square feet. Every product that the Wichita factory designs and manufactures undergoes multiple rigorous tests at the lab to ensure it operates safely and efficiently across a wide range of conditions for years to come.

    Johnson Controls voluntarily performs highly accelerated life testing (HALT), which subjects equipment to extreme environmental conditions that replicate five years in the field, yet there is other testing that the government requires for all residential HVAC systems to ensure product safety, efficiency and environmental
    sustainability. The additional space and new advanced technology make it possible for the lab team to better accommodate product development and testing for the vast number of systems that Johnson Controls produces for its YORK®, Luxaire®, Coleman®, Champion® and Fraser-Johnston® brands – many of which are part of Johnson Controls OpenBlue connected suite of technologies. The following lab updates optimize the testing process to help ensure product reliability and performance:
  • Seven 20 x 60-foot test chambers join nine existing cells used in the design and development phase to test, rate and qualify heating and cooling products for agency approval. These test chambers control temperatures within two-tenths of a degree for all rating points. This level of control provides confidence when rating equipment for SEER and EER. The additional cells will accommodate more equipment, which will help systems become available more quickly.
  • A new automated heating lab and test stands allow technicians to setup and pre-program test stations. Compared to older, manual methods, automated testing of heating equipment, such as gas furnaces, is more efficient and precise to confirm reliability.
  • Advanced model shop equipment, which includes a new water jet, bender and press machine, allow model makers to precisely cut and form sheet metal to make prototype parts more quickly and efficiently. This will accelerate
    prototype testing and refinement so products can enter production faster.
  • A spacious transit table building with rain capabilities give technicians greater control during transit and rain tests. The new area offers better mounting, which makes installing systems for testing easier, while the enclosure improves precision during rain tests and accommodates a new high-pressured pump for recently required wind-driven rain testing for extreme conditions — which also reinforces Johnson Controls commitment to quality.
  • “When visitors tour the lab, they are simply overwhelmed by the extensive steps that we take to ensure each and every system developed in the labs are tested to ensure performance and reliability,” said Doug Dorrough, director of lab operations, Johnson Controls. “The greater efficiency and unprecedented quality we can now achieve with this major investment will bring our premier products to market sooner and provide homeowners with enduring comfort and peace of mind.”

    The upgrades coincide with new efficiency standards, including the 2023 Department of Energy (DOE) efficiency standards and environmental sustainability requirements, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant transition that will be required of all HVAC equipment manufactured by January 1, 2025. Sources report the expanded lab will better accommodate product development and testing schedules to ensure that each product meets or exceeds all requirements, as well as the high-quality standards Johnson Controls holds for its equipment. Johnson Controls will continue to invest in and expand the testing facilities in Wichita, Kan. over the next several years with new equipment and additional facilities to accommodate new product development and testing.