Cummins: A Global Power Leader

Celebrating 100 years, and looking forward to the next 100.

The rise of Cummins - 100 years old in 2019 - from a tiny machine shop in Columbus, Indiana (USA), to a global power leader offering a broad portfolio of products, is a story right in drama, a story of trials and triumphs. 

Clessie Cummins, founder of Cummins Inc.
Clessie Cummins, founder of Cummins Inc. 

Cummins Engine Co. was founded on Feb 3rd, 1919, with William G. Irwin, a banker, supplying the starting capital. Irwin had hired Clessie Cummins in 1908 to drive and maintain his car and later set him up in business as an auto mechanic. 

Cummins, a self-taught mechanical genius, was convinced that the engine technology invented by Rudolph Diesel in the 1890s - while still unproven commercially - held great promise for its fuel economy and durability. 

Cummins started working full-time on diesel engines in 1919 when he heard that giant American retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co. would buy single-cylinder engines produced under license to Hvid. Clessie persuaded Irwin to negotiate a contract with Sears for 4,500 1.5 and 3 horsepower (hp) Hvid engines, but the beginning was inauspicious. Sears said the engines were defective and the contract was canceled in 1922 and Clessie went back to the drawing board.

The Critical Breakthrough

Clessie continued to experience pain, his experimental engines ripping the sides out of his fishing boats or tearing themselves to remnants. Then he made breakthroughs that solved critical problems of injection timing. He also created a fuel injector some experts described as 'simpler than a fountain pen.'

In 1924, emerging out of the swirl of innovation and problem solving, came the company's first distinctive engine line, the Model F (for four-cycle), the early editions of which were installed in fishing trawlers. These were believed to be the very first diesel-powered fishing vessels in North America. 

The Model F proved so economical that its popularity spread to other applications - generator sets, drills, shovels, and air compressors. The engine had one or two pistons, bolted as separate units to a common base, and developed 12.5 hp at 600 rpm from a 5.5-inch bore and a 7.5-inch stroke. 

On Christmas Day in 1929, Clessie took W.G. Irwin for a ride in America's first diesel-powered automobile - a Cummine marine engine-driven Packard. 

With his diesel engine and unique fuel injection system finally coming together and being used to repower trucks originally fitted with petrol engines, a dramatic leap forward in the evolution of diesel technology was realized. 

Clessie in 1931 with the Dusenburg, powered by the Model U engine, which set the world speed record of 100.755mph in Florida. 

Capturing Global Attention

With a new infusion of Irwin capital, Clessie Cummins set out to prove that his diesel engines could conquer the road and he began to capture the world's attention through a series of creative, headline-making events in diesel-powered trucks, buses, and cars. 

In one celebrated run, Clessie piloted a Cummins-powered truck coast-to-coast (New York to Los Angeles) on $11.22 worth of furnace oil. The truck traveled 3,214 miles and averaged 43.02 miles per hour. 

He also set a new world diesel-powered record of 100.755 mph in a race car at Daytona Beach, Florida. In yet another stunt in a diesel passenger car, Clessie drove his Cummins-powered Auburn from New York to San Francisco in 1935 on $7.63 worth of fuel. The Cummins Model A aluminum 6-cylinder engine in the Auburn was the world's first light diesel designed exclusively for a car. 

J. Irwin Miller, the great-nephew of W.G. Irwin, became general manager in 1934 and went on to lead the company to international prominence over the next four decades. In 1937, Cummins earned its first profit.

Clessie (1932) waving the goodbye to New York City as he set off for his coast-to-coast tour.

The company's first diesel engine designed specifically for highway trucking - the 6-cylinder Model H rated at 125 hp - was proving very successful. 

The 672 displacement engine had two valves per cylinder and gained a reputation as a remarkable workhorse with its power, fuel-efficiency, and reliability. As truckers recommended the engine to their colleagues, the business began to flourish. 

In 1941, Cummins began offering the transport industry's first 100,000-mile warranty and a year later the US Army ordered 5,000 H Model engines for trucks. During World War II, most of the company's output went to the war effort. Cummins engines endured the harshest conditions, from the tropics to the sub-arctic. The convoys that supplied the Allied Forces in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere were powered in part by Cummins engines. 

Many of the famous Livery cargo ships and Miki-class tugs that supported the war effort also depended on Cummins marine generators for power. 

With America embarking on a massive interstate highway construction program in the 1950s, Cummins engines powered much of the equipment that built the roads and the thousands of trucks that rolled down them. 

As Cummins continued to grow its business in the U.S., the company began looking beyond its traditional borders. Cummins opened its first foreign manufacturing facility in Shotts, Scotland, in 1956 and by the end of the 1960s, Cummins has expanded its Sales and Service network to 2,500 dealers in 98 countries. Today, Cummins serves customers in more than 190 countries through a network of 500+ distributors and 7,500+ dealer locations. 

J. Irwin Miller, CEO from 1934-77, led Cummins to international prominence. A social activist and philanthropist, Miller advised presidents both domestically and internationally (including John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela). Martin Luther King Jr. described him as one of the most progressive business leaders in the country.

The Focus on Emerging Countries

Led by the visionary leadership of J. Irwin Miller, Cummins forged strong ties to emerging countries such as China, India, and Brazil, where Cummins had a major presence before most other American multinational companies. Today, Cummins has grown into one of the largest engine manufacturers in both China and India. Cummins, however, is no longer just an engine business, but a global power leader manufacturing diesel and natural gas engines, hybrid engines, generators, and is up and coming in electrified power. The company pledges to have an electrified powertrain for urban buses on the market by the end of 2019. 

Cummins had sales of 23.8 billion in 2018 - a company record. With more than 60,000 employees worldwide, Cummins serves customers in a multitude of markets. In fact, the company powers more types of equipment in more markets than any other engine company with engine sizes ranging from 2.8 liters to 95 liters. 

With engine development often taken for granted, it's easy to overlook the incredible engineering challenges Clessie Cummins faced to create a mechanically reliable engine and to set the standards for a company that is now the only survivor in a once-crowded field of independent engine makers. Not only that, Cummins is a technology leader, working relentlessly to provide cutting-edge solutions to the increasingly difficult challenge of Powering a World That's Always On.

Clessie Cummins' spirit of innovation and commitment to quality certainly lives on a century later. 

Cummins gets high marks in five recent independent ratings

The company's latest rankings reflect its responsible behavior and leadership.
The company's latest rankings reflect its responsible behavior and leadership.

Cummins is ranked No. 17 in Newsweek magazine’s first rating of America’s Most Responsible Companies.  It was the top company in its category – automotive and components.

The Newsweek list, released earlier this week, is one of five recent evaluations by outside groups praising the company, its approach to sustainability or its leadership and management.

“Companies, we all know, need to make a profit to prosper and survive,” said Nancy Cooper, Global Editor in Chief at Newsweek. “Making a buck, after all, is important to investors, employees and vendors. But over the years, executives have come to realize that they need to do much more. That is, by giving back to the communities they operate in and standing up as good neighbors and citizens.”

Newsweek partnered with Statista Inc., a leading provider of global market and consumer data, to evaluate publicly available information from sources such as sustainability and corporate citizenship reports. The key indicators included in the ranking focused on performance in the areas of the environment, social initiatives and corporate governance. The partners also conducted an independent survey asking U.S. citizens about their perception of companies’ activities related to corporate social responsibility. 

Cummins received an overall score of 83.8 in the 2020 ranking, 83.6 on the environment, 80.2 on social and 87.6 on governance. The top three in the review of 2,000 public companies were HP (94.4), Cisco (91.2) and Dell (90.3).

Cummins took several innovative steps in 2019 starting with its support for Cummins Powers Women, an effort working with expert nonprofit groups to advance women and girls around-the-world. More recently, the company announced its PLANET 2050 strategy to do its part to address climate change and other environmental issues.

In addition, the company has made major investments in electrified power and fuel cells as part of Cummins’ effort to offer customers a broad portfolio of solutions to meet their power needs.


Cummins this week was also ranked No. 48 in Investor's Business Daily's 50 Best ESG Companies. The list includes top performers in the environment, social and governance areas, "reflecting broad strength in fundamental and technical areas linked to price performance." Investor's Business Daily looked at companies with ESG (environment, social, governance) ratings of AAA or AA from MSCI ESG Research as of Sept. 11, 2019.

In a rating released last month, the company ranked No. 98 on the 2020 list of America’s Most JUST Companies produced by Forbes magazine and JUST Capital. The list honors 100 U.S. corporations, ranking companies on issues such as fair pay, ethical leadership, good benefits, and work-life balance, in addition to financial performance.

The issues in the rankings and their weights are determined by a polling of the American public to determine what it believes are the most important attributes of a just company.


Meanwhile, Cummins also received strong reviews in two management and leadership ratings. The company was ranked No. 88 in the Wall Street Journal and Drucker Institute's Management Top 250 released late last month. The partnership rates America's largest publicly traded companies on the principles of Peter Drucker, the late professor, author and longtime Wall Street Journal columnist. 

And Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger was No. 12 on Fortune magazine’s Businessperson of the Year 2019 list announced last month. The magazine looks at 10 financial factors “ranging from total return to shareholders to return on capital.

“Then we search for the standouts. The leaders who tackled audacious goals, overcame impossible odds, found creative solutions.”

The magazine selected 20 CEOs to profile, praising Linebarger for his support of free trade.

“Linebarger has spent a large part of the past two years warning what will happen if U.S. trade with Asia doesn't stay open,” Fortune said.

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.


New Cummins strategy to address climate change, conserve natural resources

Cummins announced today bold new environmental sustainability goals timed to 2030, and aspirations for 2050, to do the company’s part in addressing climate change and other global environmental challenges.

Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said the company’s new PLANET 2050 strategy includes science-based goals for products and facilities in 2030 aligned to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Science-based goals are designed to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century. 

PLANET 2050’s longer term aspirations include powering customer success through carbon neutral technologies that address air quality, and designing out waste in products and processes. 

Linebarger said the PLANET 2050 strategy is both an environmental and a business imperative. He has long maintained companies that can grow while using fewer of the world’s resources will be the most successful in the future. 

“Our communities and our business depend on our collective response to improve the health of the planet while creating prosperity for all,” Linebarger said. “It’s clear that government, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and communities must unite behind swift, decisive action to address the environmental threats we face.” 

The new strategy builds on the success of goals announced in 2014 and timed to 2020  to reduce the company’s energy and water use as well as carbon dioxide (CO2) from its products. The company will continue to work on those targets through the end of next year. 

Meadow Lake Wind Farm in northwest Indina
Cummins' support for an expansion at the Meadow Lake Wind Farm in northwest Indiana is one of the creative ways the company has increased its use and promotion of renewable energy.


The company’s eight 2030 goals relate to its parts, products and company-managed facilities and operations. They are divided into two categories: Goals addressing climate change and air emissions, and goals for the use of natural resources in the most sustainable way. 

Company leaders say progress on the 2030 goals will be periodically evaluated and communicated, including consideration of whether more can or should be done in line with global energy and environmental challenges.

The 2030 goals are:

Climate change and air emissions 
•    Reduce absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from facilities and operations by 50% (science-based target).
•    Reduce absolute lifetime GHG emissions from newly sold products by 25% (science-based target).
•    Partner with customers to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from products in the field by 55 million metric tons. 
•    Reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds from paint and coating operations by 50%.

Using natural resources in the most sustainable way
•    Create a circular life-cycle plan for every part to use less, use better, use again.
•    Generate 25% less waste in facilities and operations as a percent of revenue.
•    Reuse or responsibly recycle 100% of packaging plastics and eliminate single-use plastics in dining facilities, employee events and amenities.
•    Reduce absolute water consumption in facilities and operations by 30%.

Work on the solar array at the Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Plant
Crews earlier this month began work on a solar array at the second  building at the Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Plant in Beijing, China. The site is already home to the largest array within Cummins.

Company facilities include all consolidated operations and joint ventures that are part of the Cummins Enterprise Environmental Management System.

The company’s strategy also includes addressing environmental needs in the communities where Cummins employees live and work and where the company does business.

Those goals are under development.

Cummins leaders say the strategy’s goals and aspirations will not be easy to reach and require outside action to achieve. 

Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana.
About 23% of the Cummins Technical Center's energy needs are covered by power captured from the engine testing that takes place at the facility.


The strategy’s aspirations are a first for the company. The 2050 targets are organized around the same categories as the 2030 goals:

2050 – Climate change and air emissions  
•    Customer success is powered by carbon neutral technologies that address air quality.
•    Carbon neutrality and near zero pollution in Cummins’ facilities and operations.

2050 – Using natural resources in the most sustainable way
Nothing is wasted:
•    Design out waste in products and processes.
•    Use materials again for next life.
•    Reuse water and return clean to the community

2050 – Improving communities:
•    Net positive impact in every community where Cummins operates.
•    Near zero environmental footprint.

The company says it will continue to report its progress on the environment in Cummins’ annual Sustainability Progress Report.

“Our vision for 2050 is a world where Cummins powers the world’s really important work with carbon neutral products and operations,” said Brian Mormino, Executive Director Worldwide Environmental Strategy and Compliance. “Since our communities and business depend on a healthier planet, we will take strong action on climate change and work toward a future where we waste nothing and ensure that our communities are better because we are there.”

Editorial note: Cummins has created a special website for its PLANET 2050 strategy where you can get more information on goals and the company's development of the plan.



Forward-Looking Disclosure Statement
Information provided in this document that is not purely historical are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding forecasts, guidance, preliminary results, expectations, hopes, beliefs and intentions on strategies regarding the future. The forward-looking statements made herein are made only as of the date of this document and we undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. More detailed information about factors that may affect our performance may be found in our filings with the SEC, which are available at or at in the Investor Relations section of our website.

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.


Collaborative robotics: Leading the way in Industry 4.0

This UR-10e cobot is supplied by Universal Robot. It is being used in a pilot study at the Manufacturing Engineering Development Center at the Cummins Engine Plant in Columbus, Indiana to inspect engine quality.
The UR-10e cobot, above, is supplied by Universal Robot. It is being used in a pilot study at the Manufacturing Engineering Development Center at the Cummins Engine Plant in Columbus, Indiana to inspect engine quality.

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, and collaboration is the name of the game. 

Cummins will more than double the number of collaborative robots it is using by the end of 2019, further digitizing its manufacturing operations for a future some describe as the fourth industrial revolution – or Industry 4.0. At least 30 cobots will share workspace with employees at 15 different sites across the globe by the end of the year. 

Collaborative robots, also known as “cobots,” are a key element of Cummins’ Industry 4.0 strategy. “When we defined the Industry 4.0 framework for Cummins, we committed to embrace and deploy new technologies that would help us solve key quality challenges, and offer a safer, more efficient manufacturing environment,” said Tim Millwood, Cummins Vice President – Global Manufacturing. “Cobots add significant value in helping us achieve these goals.”

Cummins cobot - Industry 4.0
The cobot pictured here is supplied by Fanuc and located at the Cummins Darlington Engine Plant in the United Kingdom. It is being used to help manage part proliferation and improve quality.

Integrated safety features allow cobots to create safer work environments for those employees who are sharing their workspace. Generally, cobots have lightweight frames with soft, rounded edges and minimized pinch points. They are also limited in both power and speed to levels suitable for human contact, and they are governed by industry-approved safety standards to avoid human injury. 

Cobots are performing unsafe or repetitive tasks that, left to employees, would carry an increased risk for ergonomic injuries. The Cummins San Luis Potosi ReCon plant in Mexico is home to one of the newest cobots paired with a new vision inspection system that helps reduce such ergonomic strain and injuries. Cummins’ ergonomic risk priority score (RPS) – which helps identify and prioritize which risks to address so more employees can go home safely each day – decreased significantly from 25 to four at the site. 

Increased productivity is another advantage cobots offer. In many cases, cobots take the form of an arm, which provides employees with an extra hand that is precise, reliable and versatile. Overall, errors are eliminated, quality improves and team productivity and efficiency increase. After a cobot was installed at the Charleston Turbo Plant (CTP) in Charleston, South Carolina, 10 more turbochargers were produced per eight-hour shift because downtime was eliminated.

Cummins Industry 4.0 cobots
The UR-5 cobot, pictured here, is supplied by Universal Robot. It is used at the Cummins Emissions Solutions Phaltan Components Plant in India to pick and place parts.

Cobots continue to expand throughout the industry because of the many benefits they offer. They are affordable and offer reduced capital costs and a quick return on investment. They are easy to install, program, implement and maintain. They enhance productivity, efficiency and quality. Above all, they reduce the risk to our employees by taking on unsafe or repetitive tasks that could result in injuries. 

Cobots are integral to Cummins’ strategy as the company invests significant resources into advancing and accelerating the use of the latest Industry 4.0 solutions and technologies. Cummins is assessing many other manufacturing processes to determine how additional cobots can be used to further create a competitive advantage. 

“As I walk through our diverse plants today, I see opportunities for applying collaborative robot technology every few feet,” said Elizabeth Hoegeman, Cummins Executive Director – Global Manufacturing Engineering. “Our vision is to steadily invest in cobots over the next several years until we exhaust viable applications.”

Meanwhile, the cobots the company has installed are empowering employees, improving work conditions, and partnering with Cummins to manufacture a bright future in this new era of modern manufacturing.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

4 ways Cummins’ 2020 goals are helping the environment

The Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Plant (above) in Beijing, China, is the largest of Cummins’ 12 completed solar installations. Work will begin soon on the plant’s second building (upper right).
The Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Plant (above) in Beijing, China, is the largest of Cummins’ 12 completed solar installations. Work will begin soon on the plant’s second building (upper right).

Skeptical when companies announce goals for reducing their environmental impact? Cummins’ 2020 goals, announced in 2014, have driven positive changes both for the company and the environment.

Cummins announced new environmental sustainability goals Nov. 15 to guide the company through 2030. They will have a big impact if the company’s 2020 goals are any indication. Here’s a quick look back: 


Significant strides have been made since the company announced its 2020 goal to increase its use and promotion of low-carbon, renewable energy sources.

A farmer works near the Meadow Lake Wind Farm expansion
A farmer works near the recent Meadow Lake Wind Farm expansion supported by Cummins through an innovative purchase agreement.

The Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company (BFCEC) in Beijing, China, is the largest of Cummins’ 12 completed solar installations, producing about 15% of the energy consumed at one of its two buildings. Work will soon begin on a new array of about equal size at the site’s second building.

 The Beijing plant is one of 16 Cummins locations where work is taking place on new solar installations – 12 in India, alone. Arrays are planned at another nine sites including Cummins facilities in Nigeria, Romania and Australia. 

Not every site at Cummins is a good fit for solar, however. The company’s work to help an Indiana wind farm expand could prove to be a great alternative to promote low-carbon, renewable energy.

Cummins entered into a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement to help the Meadow Lake Wind Farm expand in 2018. While the power doesn’t go directly to a Cummins facility, the company’s share of the expansion will send slightly more renewable electricity to the grid than the company uses at its Indiana facilities.

That amounts to offsetting about 28% of Cummins’ global energy consumption annually with renewable power, almost 10 times the electricity generated by the company’s solar arrays.


Cummins is on pace to achieve a 32% energy intensity reduction, energy use adjusted by hours worked, compared to a baseline year of 2010.

Regen Dyno team at the Seymour Engine Plant
Cummins employees stand before one of the regenerative dynamometers at the Seymour Engine Plant. 

The company has been making efficiency improvements at many facilities - upgrading lighting, heating and air conditioning systems - and replacing inefficient equipment discovered by employees trained as Environmental Champions.   

One of the company’s most impactful investments: regenerative dynamometers or “regen dynos” for short. The technology captures energy generated by test engines and turns it into useful power. Cummins uses a lot of fuel when it tests new engines and components.

The Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana, gets about 23% of the total electricity it uses from regen dynos, said Mark Dhennin, Director – Energy & Environment. At the Seymour (Indiana) Engine Plant, where Cummins builds some of its largest engines, two dynos are providing about 17% of the site’s electricity, Dhennin said.


Since 2010, direct water use is down 16% at Cummins despite a significant increase in employees and buildings. Water use intensity, direct water use adjusted by hours worked, has been reduced by 50%.

The company has undertaken projects ranging from repairing leaks and improving water use practices to using heating and cooling systems that recirculate water rather than dispose it. The regen dynos mentioned earlier reduce cooling load, which allows the cooling tower systems used with test engines to be smaller and use less water.

A Cummins employee checks on water use at the company's plant in Chongqing, China.
A Cummins employee checks water use in Chongqing, China.

There are also many building specific features across Cummins to conserve water. Some facilities are focusing on upgrades to reuse wastewater. The company’s Rocky Mount Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, N.C., for example, initiated a project to reclaim 15 million gallons of water per year for use in a cooling tower at the plant.

A similar project is being conducted at Cummins’ Jamestown Engine Plant in Jamestown, N.Y. The potential savings of 15 million gallons per year there will be reused in the facility’s cooling towers and deionized water system. 

There are many smaller efforts ranging from the bioswales at the Distribution Business Headquarters in Indianapolis, which keep about 80% of rainwater on site for landscaping, to plants in India and Brazil that recycle water for non-potable uses.


Cummins fuel economy teams across the world have implemented nearly 300 projects since 2014 to improve the efficiency of the company’s products in use. 

In 2018, Cummins surpassed its 2020 goal of working with customers to achieve an annual run rate reduction of 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), reaching 4.3 million metric tons of CO2 in 2018. CO2 is a key contributor to greenhouse gas.

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger announces the company's 2020 environmental sustainability goals during a visit to Purdue University in 2014.
Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger announces the company's 2020 environmental goals during a visit to Purdue University in 2014.

Projects included retrofitting buses with stop-start technology, so the engine shuts down when stopped on a route; creating a way to easily shift a truck engine to a fuel efficiency setting and ensuring a customer uses the right-sized engine for a job so fuel isn’t wasted.

Cummins expects to work with about 20% of its customer base by the end of 2020, touching nearly 2 million engines as specifications are tailored to specific customer uses.

Editor's note: This story was updated Nov. 18, 2019 to reflect the announcement of Cummins' new environmental strategy goals.

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.


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