Helping Tornado Victims Rebuild

Cummins employees Brian Vogel and Jacob Rudge work on the Cummins house in Henryville as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Building Blitz Oct. 8-12.

Cummins employees, led by workers at the Columbus Engine Plant (CEP), are making a huge difference in the lives of some southern Indiana tornado victims.

More than 250 employees from Columbus, Walesboro and Seymour in southern Indiana are providing a big share of the muscle behind Habitat for Humanity’s campaign to build 10 homes for families in Henryville, Ind. by the end of December.

The community, tucked along Interstate 65 about 20 miles north of Louisville, Ky., was hard hit by tornados that devastated parts of the state last March.

“This project would not have been possible without wonderful, compassionate corporate giving,” said Gina Leckron, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Indiana. She cited support from Cummins and Lowe’s home improvement stores as well as the Indiana Conference of United Methodist Churches and the Ogle Foundation based in Clark County, Ind.

“We couldn’t do this work without their donations, but even more importantly without their volunteers,” Leckron added. “And Cummins is a leader on this build in bringing multiple volunteers to help us get the project complete.”

Habitat sponsored a building blitz Oct. 8-12, recruiting more than 1,000 volunteers over the course of the week to get the exteriors of the homes complete. The Columbus Engine Plant bused down 35 to 40 workers each day of the blitz. As the week went on, other Cummins businesses joined the effort including the Hedgehog group based in Seymour, and the Columbus Mid Range Engine Plant in Walesboro.

By the last day of the blitz, the number of Cummins employees working in Henryville swelled to nearly 100. That was far too many for the house sponsored by Cummins, so employees were dispatched to several building sites in the neighborhood.

“The outpouring was incredible,” said Ben Slaton, the Community Involvement Team (CIT) co-leader at the Columbus Engine Plant along with Rob Smith.

“It’s amazing how quickly this all came together,” added Slaton, a Program Coordinator in Cummins Turbo Technologies. “So many people worked so hard to make this happen.”

“The energy from people coming back from Henryville was amazing,” added Margo Rout, Human Resources Manager for the Engine Business’ Viking Project at CEP and the “master scheduler” for the project. “People were saying, ‘I want to go back.’”

By the end of the blitz, the exteriors of the 10 new homes in the Twin Oaks subdivision were complete with the exception of some brick work that will be done by professional contractors.

Contractors will also finish a lot of the interior work. The CEP Community Involvement Team, however, plans to continue sending workers until the houses are finished. By mid-December, families are expected to move into the 10 new homes in Henryville. The project is expected to cost nearly $1 million.

Habitat is a faith-based organization dedicated to increasing the amount of decent, affordable housing around the world. The group depends on volunteer labor from corporations, churches and other groups. In addition, the families who will own the houses provide “sweat equity,” working side-by-side with the volunteers as their homes are built.

The house sponsored by Cummins with a $50,000 grant from The Cummins Foundation will be owned by Kris and Steven Sullivan, who have a 12-year-old son and a newborn baby boy. Their older son was ill on March 2 and would normally have stayed home by himself, his mother says.

However, rather than have him stay home and play video games all day, she insisted he go to his grandma’s house. Later that day, the tornado destroyed most of the house they were renting and nearly all of their possessions.

“It was a blessing by God that he wasn’t there home alone,” Kris Sullivan said.

That wasn’t the only blessing since the tornado. She feels blessed by the birth of her son two months ago and by the Cummins employees who are working so hard to make her family’s dream of a home of their own come true.

“These people don’t even know me,” she said as the house was built. “I keep telling them, ‘you don’t even know me.’ It’s just incredible.”

For their part, Cummins employees say they got a lot more out of the blitz than they invested in physical labor.

“This has been a fantastic experience,” said Scott Grant, the Customer Care Leader for Viking at CEP who was in Henryville Oct. 12 for a second day of work that week. “I got the chance to work with the family that will own the house. I met so many people I didn’t know. I liked it so much, I came back.”

“I feel very proud to be a part of Cummins,” said Soumee Roy, an Aftertreatment Integration Engineer in the Engine Business. “Though my contribution was only a drop in the ocean, we as a team can not only rebuild houses but also help rebuild dreams.”

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

For Cummins engineers, these road trips mean going to extremes

A validation team makes its way up a mountain road at Loveland Pass (6.7 percent grade at 11,990 feet), during testing of Cummins’ X12 engine in Colorado (U.S.A.) earlier this year.
A validation team makes its way up a mountain road at Loveland Pass (6.7 percent grade at 11,990 feet), during testing of Cummins’ X12 engine in Colorado (U.S.A.) earlier this year.

Cummins engineer Trent Berardi was in trouble. Usually frigid Fargo, North Dakota (U.S.A.), was too warm.

With his team ready for two-and-a-half weeks of testing Cummins’ X12 engine under extreme winter conditions, Berardi had to quickly find cold temperatures close enough to his base in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.A.), to stay on time and budget. Then he got the good news: Idaho Falls, Idaho (U.S.A.), was having a cold snap.

“Thankfully, we found the temperatures we were looking for relatively nearby,” Berardi recalled.

Such is the life of a validation engineer, the last line of defense before a Cummins product reaches the customer.

These engineers oversee final testing to make sure a new engine platform or another Cummins product works when installed in a truck or other equipment.

The testing frequently includes a two-to-three week road trip to see what happens when the engine is stressed by extreme temperatures or elevation. Engineers say some things can only be discovered on the road.

“You’re looking for gaps between systems,” said Berardi, a Senior Validation Engineer in the Cummins Engine Business. “It’s like playing chess on a three-dimensional board.”

Cummins Engineer Trent Berardi (center, with laptop), talks to X12 team members during a stop in central Utah (U.S.A.) earlier this year.
Cummins engineer Trent Berardi (center, with laptop), talks to X12 team members during a stop in central Utah (U.S.A.) earlier this year.

LONG DAYS, SHORT NIGHTS, EXTREME TEMPERATURES

Validation testing takes place not only at Cummins facilities in the U.S., but in China, India, the U.K. and elsewhere. U.S.-based teams have traveled as far as Fairbanks, Alaska, and Death Valley, California, to find the ideal combination of temperature and grade.

In the U.S., trips can include 8 to 10 vehicles, counting support vehicles, and as many as two-dozen engineers, some flying in to observe just part of the testing.

Winter trips mean temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (- 40° Celsius). Summer trips can include daytime highs up to 120°F (49° Celsius). Elevation testing usually takes place at 10,000 to 12,000 feet (3,048 to 3,658 meters) above sea level.

A 17-hour day is pretty common and the most important hotel amenity is truck parking. Hotel parking lots are frequently used for emergency repairs.

Despite the challenging conditions, validation engineers say they love the trips.

“I think it’s the chance to really see how our products work,” said Jeffrey Friend, a Controls Performance Engineer based in Columbus who estimates he’s been on about 30 validation trips over 17 years with Cummins. “You’re out there with engineers who are experts in their field and there’s no phone calls, no meetings, you just focus on the product.”

The testing usually involves traversing steep grades, or going from zero to 60 miles-per-hour (97 kilometers-per-hour) as rapidly as possible – commonly referred to as “drag racing” by validation engineers.

The fun really begins, they say, when they “break something” – a catchall term that could involve just about anything limiting performance. Then the team has to figure out how to make improvements.

“That’s when you get a chance to find something you can improve on before our product gets in the hands of the customer,” said Beth Wendel, a Validation Group Leader in the Engine Business. “That can be very exhilarating.”

A validation team stops along the Alcan Highway near Haines Junction in the Canadian Yukon, where the record low temperature is 54 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
A validation team stops along the Alcan Highway near Haines Junction in the Canadian Yukon, where the record low temperature is 54 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

 

TALES FROM THE ROAD

After a 6-month college internship on an oil tanker crossing pirate-infested waters off the coast of West Africa, Chitresh Sharma rarely gets car sick even going up and down mountain roads looking at data on his laptop.

But the Senior Engineer in Product Validation at Cummins vividly remembers his time in a truck making run after run to test a Cummins engine in the desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada (U.S.A.). He asked the technician driving the truck they shared to turn off the air conditioning and roll up the windows to reduce drag as much as possible.

Sharma will soon be taking a new position in Cummins’ supply chain organization, but he says “I know I’ll miss this job, and I think I’ll end up missing these trips most of all.”

Friend recalls how one team he was with solved the lack of suitable restaurants in Death Valley by storing deli trays in a refrigerated truck they were testing, and during a break in the desert backing it up to another truck, creating a cool area to eat.

“Problem solving is really central to all aspects of these trips,” he said.

Perhaps no one has more stories about validation testing than Greg Sitzman, a Mechanical Engineering Associate based at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus. He estimates he’s been on 50 validation trips over 10 years with the company.

Sitzman has been to Alaska five times, Death Valley, International Falls, Minnesota, and many other locations. He’s driven the Alcan Highway dividing Canada and Alaska, and put chains on a test truck to keep it from sliding through the Rocky Mountains. Once he even made a repair near Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories parked on a frozen lake. That enabled him to easily slide under the truck.

But he says what he likes best about the trips is the camaraderie.

“To me, while I enjoy the challenges, what makes these trips special are the people,” Sitzman said. “They make it fun. They are just good people to be with.”

 

 

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

Cummins Hero Spotlight

This month, we’re saluting Anna Patton as a Cummins Hero, nominated through our HERO program. Anna is a remarkable nine-year-old, nominated for her dedication to helping kids with cancer.

When Anna’s aunt died of cancer last spring, she was devastated, but quickly turned her thoughts to helping others. Anna wanted to help bring a little Christmas magic to kids with cancer who were stuck in the hospital for the holidays. When her mom told her “your heart’s bigger than my wallet”, she decided to set out an ambitious plan to buy bald American Girl dolls to donate to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Anna spent months collecting and recycling aluminum cans and bottles to raise money. By Thanksgiving of 2016, she far exceeded her goal of buying one doll – she was able to donate four.

This year, Anna decided to expand her fundraising efforts. She has started selling handmade crafts and candles, as well as continuing her recycling operations to reach her goal of donating ten dolls this year. She’s well on her way, with $500 raised, enough to buy four dolls. Anna will be starting third grade this fall – the Cummins team wishes her good luck!

 

NOMINATE YOUR HERO TODAY

Real heroes are all around us, making the world a better place each day. They come in all shapes and sizes and from every walk of life. And the thing is, most heroes don’t even think of themselves that way.

At Cummins, we’d like to change all that, but we need your help to do it. If you know someone like Anna, who goes above and beyond to improve the community or the lives of others, take a few minutes to tell us all about them. Learn more and fill out a nomination form by visiting our site.

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

Watch Tom Linebarger Discuss the Critical Importance of NAFTA

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger reinforced support for free trade as a driver of Cummins success.

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger appeared on Bloomberg TV this morning to discuss the critical importance of NAFTA to Cummins and the global economy.

Watch Tom Linebarger discuss the critical importance of NAFTA by clicking the image above.

In an op-ed authored earlier in 2017, Linebarger, who also chairs the Business Roundtable International Engagement Committee, wrote:

“It is imperative that we are able to access the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who reside outside of the United States with high-quality and competitively-priced products. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and our other free trade agreements have allowed us to do just that. I firmly believe expanding U.S. trade opportunities and modernizing NAFTA are good policy and would strongly support U.S. economic growth, jobs and global competitiveness. I also believe that withdrawing from or weakening NAFTA and restricting U.S. trade opportunities with countries like Canada and Mexico would hurt U.S. growth, jobs and competitiveness.

The Administration and representatives of Mexico and Canada are currently in the fourth round of renegotiation the two-decade old agreement. NAFTA has been good for American businesses, workers and farmers. Having said that, I support efforts to improve and modernize it in areas such as promoting digital commerce and cross-border data flows; ensuring fair U.S. competition with foreign state-owned enterprises, protecting U.S. intellectual property rights and investor rights (including through Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions) and incorporating regulatory reforms in Canada and Mexico related to trade and investment.

More than any other free trade agreement, NAFTA has helped us compete for more customers. Since NAFTA’s bipartisan passage and enactment in 1994, overall trade has increased exponentially between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Prior to NAFTA, Mexico was one of the most protectionist countries in the world – Mexico’s policies all but mandated that our manufacturing take place within the country’s borders. Now, thanks to NAFTA, Cummins’ two largest export markets in the world are Canada and Mexico.”

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

Cummins Technical Center Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation

Cummins Technical Center 1960s construction photo
The Cummins Technical Center goes up in the mid-1960s in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.A.). The first employees moved into its buildings in the fall of 1967.

From punch cards to computer assisted design, from hand-written log books to virtual reality, and even through a devastating flood, one thing has remained constant since employees started moving into the Cummins Technical Center in 1967 – a devotion to the center's original mission.

“We are building the most important diesel research center in the world,” longtime Cummins Chairman and CEO J. Irwin Miller said a half century ago. “…We mean business. We mean never again to have to respond to a competitor’s development. We mean to beat him on each move, and be out first with a product so clearly superior in economy, bulk, weight and long life that our excellence does not have to be argued.”

Employees will celebrate the Technical Center’s 50th anniversary today (Oct. 5) with displays, a panel discussion and even a giant cake depicting the campus. It will also be a chance to reflect on Mr. Miller’s words and what continues to make the tech center in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.A.) a special place to work.

“When you have a vision and you have the people to go implement that vision and the facility, of course, to do that, that’s really what it’s all about,” said Dr. Wayne Eckerle, Cummins’ Vice President of Research and Technology.

Longtime Cummins leader J. Irwin Miller (second from the right) on one of his many visits to the tech center.

 

A PERSONAL APPROACH

After a consolidation with a truck manufacturer fell through in the early 1960s, Mr. Miller knew Cummins would have to be an innovation leader to survive as an independent engine maker.

The company wasn’t particularly well positioned for that to happen. It had 50 test cells available for research use, but only 15 were reasonably well equipped, according to The Engine that Could, a history of Cummins. General Motors, by comparison, had 100 test cells devoted to diesel research.

The company’s leaders had their eyes on property across Haw Creek from Cummins’ main engine plant for a new research and engineering building. Initial plans called for an 188,000 square foot facility with 64 test cells. But those plans nearly doubled in size before the tech center opened, resulting in two buildings – a six-story office building and a test center – with 88 test cells.

Mr. Miller’s interest in the tech center didn’t stop when the construction was finished. He visited frequently, talking to everyone from the engineers in the office building to the guys running the test cells.

“I came in late one night to check on a test, just pulled in there and there were three cars,” said Terry Shaw, a Senior Technical Advisor who started at the tech center 43 years ago. “The guard came running out, ‘You can’t park there!’ Why? ‘That’s Mr. Miller’s spot!’ He’d show up at odd hours just on his own, no entourage, just him. He’d walk in and start talking to people.”

J. Irwin Miller (eighth from the right) poses with a group outside of the tech center's office building.

 

A TEAM ATMOSPHERE

Everyone’s work and opinion mattered at the tech center, creating a special environment that continues today.

“It’s a team thing inside of this facility and it goes from an idea, an innovation, to a product that ends up in a customer’s vehicle,” said Victor Meek, President of the Office Committee Union, who has worked at the tech center since 1977.

The Technical Center has played a key role in many different Cummins products over the years including the extremely popular Big Cam and V Series engines to name just a few. But equally important has been its work in the technologies around emissions measurement and control as they became critically important to innovation in the industry.

Some of the company’s most notable technical minds regularly walked the buildings’ hallways including Dr. Julius Perr, who made his way to Cummins after fleeing Soviet oppression in his native Hungary in 1956, and former Vice President of Technology Dr. Alan Lyn, one of the first Chinese scholars allowed to leave that country after the Cultural Revolution.

Employees who weren’t around for Mr. Miller’s impromptu visits or when Perr and Lyn were at tech center say they can still sense its long and distinguished history.

“It’s present in the hallways,” said Beth Wendel, a systems engineer who has been at the tech center since 2007. “You can see the (show) engines on display in the office building on the ground floor, you can see the patents across the patent wall here in the lab building.”

“It kind of motivates me to make my own mark on history when I come to work every day,” added Nadran Bookhardt, a lab operations coach who just started at the tech center in January.

Employees at the Cummins Technical Center use an electron microscope, one of many tools that enable them to work in the realm of atoms

 

THE KEY INGREDIENT

While the technology changes have been significant, they are far from the only changes. The campus has also become a center for diversity and inclusion, attracting the best and brightest from around the world.

“When I started, there was a lady engineer over here and one over there and then the list got very short,” Shaw said. “Now, there’s lots of women and there’s a lot of people from India, China, England, everywhere. And it’s a much more engaging place to work.”

Over the next 50 years, Dr. Eckerle would like to see the center serve as an example for the company’s more than 20 technical centers around the world. While having the right facility and history are important, he says it’s the people who make the tech center special.

“Often times when I give tours, I say I'm going to take you out to the labs, I'm going to show you the test cells,” Dr. Eckerle said. “But it's the people who are collected here that make the action happen here.”

 

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

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