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 cu.in. 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 named a Top-Scoring Company on the 2020 Disability Equality Index

Cummins has been named a Top-Scoring Company on the 2020 Disability Equality Index® (DEI), a national, transparent benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to self-report their disability inclusion policies and practices. Companies that score 80% or higher are recognized as “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.” Cummins scored 80% on this year’s index.

Cummins has been named a Top-Scoring Company on the 2020 Disability Equality Index® (DEI)

“I’m so pleased to see Cummins’ progress on the DEI,” said Mark Smith, Vice President – CFO  and the Executive Sponsor of the company’s disability inclusion initiative.  “Last year, we participated in this survey for the first time and found that we had a good deal of work to do to ensure we’re creating an environment that enables people with disabilities.  I’m extremely proud of all that has been accomplished over the last several months.”

From 2019 to 2020, the Cummins Disability Inclusion initiative, led by Dennis Heathfield, made great strides in the following DEI survey categories:

  • Internal and external communications 
  • Leadership engagement
  • Employee Resource Group network and alignment
  • Recruiting practices
  • Facilities accessibility

Going forward, the work will be focused on improving technology and web accessibility, designing and implementing a global workplace adjustments system, and supporting site-specific disability inclusion efforts.

The Disability Equality Index is a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN. It was first launched in 2015 and is acknowledged today as the most comprehensive disability inclusion assessment tool designed and embraced by both business leaders and disability advocates. This year, 247 corporations used the DEI to benchmark their disability inclusion efforts.

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.

High tech tools enable Cummins to safely support customers amid pandemic

Cummins Sales and Service technicians can work collaboratively with experts many miles away using RemoteConnect.
Cummins Sales and Service technicians can work collaboratively with experts many miles away using RemoteConnect.

A suite of high-tech tools called RemoteConnect is enabling Cummins to support customers while maintaining social distancing and travel restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 crisis.

The tools, which allow experts to remotely see what technicians see in the field, were created by the Cummins Care team in 2017, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, to support customers in hard-to-reach locations. Now, with travel discouraged to prevent the spread of the virus, the use of RemoteConnect has increased dramatically, making the tools more important than ever. 

“RemoteConnect was created to be an alternative solution when a Cummins subject matter expert cannot be onsite,” said Cummins Care Manager Joe Brooks, who has been leading the initiative since 2017. “This has quickly turned into the only solution to service our customers in certain situations due to COVID-19. RemoteConnect has been a real game-changer during these unprecedented times.”

HOW THE TOOLS WORK

The suite of tools comes in a kit that looks something like a suitcase and includes safety glasses equipped with a tiny camera that technicians can use to work collaboratively with company experts known as “CFSEs” to diagnose and fix problems. CFSEs can literally see what the technician sees even if they are many miles away.

RemoteConnect quickly demonstrated its ability to improve repair quality while reducing misdiagnosis, un-recoverable labor expenses and most importantly, customer pain and suffering. The kits have been placed in more than 140 Cummins locations, primarily in the U.S. and Canada but Cummins Care is working to deploy them elsewhere, too.

Before COVID-19, CFSEs spent a significant time on the road, working with Cummins technicians at a particular Cummins Sales and Service location to collaborate on difficult service work. In addition, they would also collaborate with technicians via RemoteConnect. 

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, suddenly a simple flight, train, or even a car ride to service a customer was no longer a routine option. Many CFSEs discovered RemoteConnect was the next best thing to being there.

IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS

While the safety glasses equipped with cameras to live stream two-way audio and visual communication has perhaps the biggest wow factor, the kits also include:

•    LogMeIn Rescue: A tool providing the CFSE the ability to remotely collaborate with onsite technicians by taking control of their desktops.
•    Network Bridge: A tool allowing CFSEs working remotely to connect to an engine’s electronic control module (ECM), which is the command center on an engine controlling its operation.

As of April, over 5,402 remote support cases had been completed since November of 2018, including 621 that would have required travel, and 3,488 days of downtime were saved. The kit was used 166 times just between February and April.

Brooks and others at Cummins expect those numbers will go up in the days and months ahead. RemoteConnect is just another way Cummins puts technology and innovation to work for its customers. 
 

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.

Cummins CEO highlights employee safety, ingenuity at Annual Meeting

CEO Tom Linebarger speaks at a past event, before the COVID-19 crisis. The 2020 Annual Meeting was held virtually to protect against the spread of the virus.
CEO Tom Linebarger speaks at a past event, before the COVID-19 crisis. The 2020 Annual Meeting was held virtually to protect against the spread of the virus.

Cummins is taking numerous steps to protect employees from COVID-19, Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said at the company’s Annual Meeting Tuesday.

The company has implemented health screenings and temperature checks for those entering plants, increased cleaning protocols and established a response center supported by medical personnel to answer employee questions 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Linebarger said.

He told shareholders the company has also established a leadership committee to respond to reported problems and a planning team focused on planning for future developments. Linebarger said the health and safety of employees and the communities where Cummins operates are the company’s first priority as it moves forward in these uncertain times.

“Most office employees around the world at Cummins are working from home as we comply with stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of the virus,” Linebarger said. “At the time of this meeting, several of our plants have gone through periods of shutdown or reduced capacity, and many locations are now resuming operations, though at a very reduced level. …Things look very different now than how we operated prior to COVID-19.”

A Seymour Engine Plant employee at work
A Seymour Engine Plant employee in Seymour, Indiana, working under the new plant rules since the pandemic. 

Linebarger said with most office employees staying at home, the company has been able to divert cleaning resources to facilities where employees are coming in to work every day, significantly increasing cleaning and disinfecting protocols. For those employees working in plants, in addition to the screenings and temperature checks, immediate care is available for anyone displaying symptoms for COVID-19.

 For employees whose work requires them to be in close proximity to others, the company has additional personal protective equipment for them to wear.

A DIFFERENT WAY TO WORK

Cummins has also redesigned certain processes and facility layouts to allow employees to operate safely and effectively, re-configuring assembly lines and entrances and exits to promote social distancing and ensuring common surfaces are cleaned regularly. In addition to answering questions, the response center is available to conduct contact tracing to determine people who might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

The company is using medical personnel from Cummins’ LiveWell health center in Columbus, Indiana, to support the COVID-19 response. center.

Linebarger said the company has benefitted from having dealt with the crisis since January when the virus was first discovered in China. Cummins has several facilities in Wuhan, China, considered the epicenter of the outbreak. All of Cummins’ plants in China are now back in operation and business has been brisk as the company’s customers have responded to pent-up demand.

An employee works in Seymour, Indiana.
In addition to masks, anyone entering the Seymour plant must pass through a health check where they get their temperature taken.

OPTIMISTIC SIGNS

That is only one hopeful sign. Linebarger said Cummins is also in a strong financial position. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $2 billion, strong credit ratings and Cummins’ pension plans are fully funded. Linebarger said aggressive action to cut costs such as reducing pay and hours for some employees, while painful, will serve the company well during this unprecedented downturn.

Even in the middle of the crisis, Cummins has maintained its investment in low- and no-carbon technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric power platforms that will position the company well for the future when more normal conditions and demand returns.

“During our 100-year history we have encountered several unforeseen crises and economic challenges,” Linebarger said during the virtual meeting, another first caused by the pandemic. “I am confident we will successfully navigate this one as we have done before and emerge stronger as a company.”

He said also true to the company’s history, Cummins employees have risen to the challenges presented by COVID-19, responding in new and creative ways to help the company and the communities where they live and work.

Employees have engaged in a host of activities, from helping day care centers and hospitals plan for COVID-19, to powering essential shipments of food and medicine, building and servicing the generators at emergency medical centers around-the-world, and partnering with other companies to increase the production of personal protective equipment.

“It will come as no surprise to you that our employees around the world have stepped up and responded to the needs of their communities in innovative ways,” Linebarger said. “…As always, our employees and our company are doing all that we can do to address this crisis in new and creative ways, and we remain committed to powering a more prosperous world.”
 

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. blair.claflin@cummins.com

 

Team saves test using Cummins' ingenuity

The Cummins team had to figure out quickly how to keep testing going while practicing all the COVID-19 safeguards.
The Cummins team had to figure out quickly how to keep testing going while practicing all the COVID-19 safeguards.

On-Board Diagnostic Misfire Testing is as complex as its name would suggest. Keeping a recent test moving forward might have been even more complicated.

The labor-intensive test requires a driver and technician sit side by side to test an engine under “real life” circumstances to prove to regulators its onboard diagnostics are capable of detecting a misfire due to a component failure that produces excessive emissions. The testing is critical to keeping the regulatory process moving forward on the engine model for 2021.

The testing had been taking place at a college several hours away and was at a critical moment when the school suddenly had to shut the lab down as part of its response to the COVID-19 crisis. As the Cummins team quickly made plans to shift testing back to Columbus, Indiana, a feat in itself, plans were also being forged by the test team group leader Alex Marin Cruz to finish the critical testing at the Olympia Building (OLY) – this time while maintaining all the recommended COVID-19 safeguards, including the six-foot social distancing rule. 

FINDING THEIR INNER MACGYVER

In the midst of all the other personal and professional stresses caused by the fast-paced global pandemic, a team of engineers and technicians from both OLY and the Cummins Technical Center (CTC) quickly brainstormed a safe solution.

They pulled more than 50 feet of ethernet and specialized cables from rarely used storage closets in CTC and OLY. Two-way radios that hadn’t been used in some time were dusted off. The testing was slightly reconfigured, so the driver and technician no longer had to sit together but could still communicate using the radios. 

The team lost just under 48 hours, but testing was ready to continue.

A view of the testing.
The team  found cable and two-way radios that hadn't been used in some time to keep the testing going.

NEVER A DOUBT

“We never had any doubt,” Marin Cruz said when asked if he ever thought the testing would have to be postponed. “We were just focused on safety and keeping us six feet apart.”

They are now on track to submit data as part of the certification package to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) by the regulator’s deadline. Their extraordinary efforts to keep the engine testing on track will likely be critical to keeping the project moving forward.  

Team members in addition to Cruz include Shelley Knust, Curt Barnhart, Justin Owen, Ansh Sharma, Michael Tress, Shashank Sharma, Celso Gomez, David L Adams, Arun Shori D Sundaravel, Daniel Holle, and Robert S. Jones.

They demonstrated, once again, that both the company’s value of teamwork and its vision to innovate for its customers are alive and well at Cummins. Even in the midst of a global pandemic.
 

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.

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