Husqvarna: Single-Stage Snow Blower Design
Husqvarna is a Swedish manufacturer of outdoor gas-powered gardening equipment including lawn-mowers, trimmers, chainsaws, garden tractors, and snowblowers.
Originally founded in 1689, Husqvarna is one of the oldest continuously operating companies in the world. Today, Husqvarna Group owns a number of brands, including Poulan Pro, a popular manufacturer of high quality gardening power tools. Husqvarna prides itself on offering user-friendly equipment, ergonomic design, efficiency, safety, high quality, and reliability.
Husqvarna has worked with Prodigy on a number of design projects since the late 2000s. In this case study, we look at a single-stage snow blower project that Prodigy designed for Husqvarna from June 2009 to February 2010.
Background on Husqvarna Snow Blowers and Prodigy Participation
After working with Prodigy on several lawn and garden equipment projects, Husqvarna asked Prodigy to design a single-stage snow blower in June 2009. Husqvarna’s goal for the project was to fill a hole in its product offering, which lacked a single-stage snow blower.
At the time, Husqvarna was only manufacturing and selling dual-stage snow blowers. Dual-stage snow blowers use (1) powerful augers to break through snow and ice, and (2) impeller blades to push the snow up and out of the chute. By comparison, single-stage snow blowers do not have impellers. They only use an auger to throw snow, making them more appropriate for milder climates with lighter snowfall.
In 2009, several patents for single-stage snow blowers with two-cycle engines had recently expired. Husqvarna wanted to take the technology from the expired patents and combine it with a four-cycle engine. The result would be a more powerful, easier-to-use, single-stage snow blower with a lower price than competing brands.
During the design process, a Husqvarna industrial designer was responsible for creating the overall shape of the snow blower, and Prodigy was responsible for designing the internal mechanics of the machine. Two Husqvarna engineers also worked with Prodigy to provide insight on the availability of components from existing products and the capacity of Husqvarna to manufacture and source new components.
After working with the Husqvarna industrial designer and engineers in-person for two weeks, Husqvarna allowed the Prodigy team to continue the project independently until it was complete.
The design process for the single-stage snow blower included the following steps:
- Competitive Analysis: Prodigy conducted a competitive analysis of existing snow blowers—also analyzing technology from expired patents for single-stage snow blowers.
- Proof-of-Concept (POC) Prototype: After reviewing the competitive assessment results, Prodigy developed and built a proof-of-concept prototype and ran testing on the prototype.
- POC Testing: Because Prodigy completed the rough prototype during the summertime in Cincinnati, no snow was available for testing—so the Prodigy team tested it on sawdust. Using the test results and feedback from Husqvarna, Prodigy made improvements to the design.
- Field Testing: Next, Prodigy built eight units for field testing in the winter snow of the upper peninsula of Michigan. After the field tests, Prodigy completed final tweaks, and released the job to Husqvarna for manufacturing.
Prodigy completed the single-stage snow blower project in February 2010, nine months after the project start date.
Prodigy achieved all design goals and objectives for this project. The design filled the hole in Husqvarna’s product line—allowing them to sell a four-cycle-engine, single-stage snow blower featuring the latest technology. Thanks to Prodigy, Husqvarna was able to bring to market a single-stage snow blower that was higher quality, easier to use, more powerful, and more affordable than similar products in the category.
Marketed under Poulan Pro branding, this single-stage snow blower has been sold on the internet and in retail stores throughout the world, including Sam’s Club. Visit this link to browse several models of the Poulan Pro/Husqvarna snow blower—all designed by Prodigy.