Baja Wins This Round, But Team Says It's Not Finished Yet

We’ve been following Team Valvoline’s bid for Baja all year. See how it turned out as employees from Valvoline and Cummins took a break from their regular jobs to test themselves at this iconic endurance race. Final in a series. 

Battling steering problems for much of the race, Cummins engineer Aaron Quinton understandably kept his eyes fixed on the narrow mountain road ahead as he drove Team Valvoline’s red truck at the 49th annual SCORE Baja 1000 endurance race in Baja California, Mexico.

So it was up to navigator Adam Sworski, Global Field Test Manager at Valvoline, to tell Quinton what he could see just beyond his passenger-side window as they made their way down the mountain.

“It’s probably about a 200-foot drop,” Sworski said calmly into the intercom connecting their helmets so they could communicate during the race.

“Don’t tell me that,” responded Quinton, Chief Engineer for the Cummins G Series Engines, perhaps only half in jest.

While they successfully navigated the mountain switch-backs, by that time in the iconic race it was easy to think that a dark cloud had been following the truck dubbed “El Tropico.” By the first pit stop just over 70 miles into the race, both mirrors were broken and the light bar on top was torn off after Quinton and Sworski rounded a turn and hit a tree branch protruding into the course.

The frame of the truck was also broken but no one was quite sure where that happened. With 3½-foot ruts, 2-feet or more of loose sand in places, rocks, boulders, washouts – it could have happened almost anywhere on the course.

A team of Cummins and Valvoline employees fixed the damage in less than an hour only to have many of their repairs break a second time farther into the race because of the rugged terrain. At that point, Team Valvoline decided to park the red truck around the 170-mile mark, about 12 hours into the race.

cummins-valvoline-baja-race-prep-1

 

The team’s other truck, known as the blue truck or “El Arctico,” had even worse racing luck. Driven by professional drift drivers Chris Forsberg and Ryan Tuerck, it was knocked out at about the 96-mile mark with transmission problems.

THE SILVER LINING

The good news? The Cummins 2003 vintage ISB 5.9 diesel engines in El Tropico and El Arctico performed well. So did the Valvoline oil used in both trucks. In fact, the oil in El Tropico was the same oil the team used during test runs up Pikes Peak, Colorado (U.S.A.) in June. And El Arctico managed to pull El Tropico out of deep sand during the race before it succumbed to its transmission troubles.

Neither Quinton nor El Tropico co-driver Roger England, a fellow Cummins engineer, had a lot of off-road racing experience so the plan was to take it easy, figuring if they could just average 29 miles per hour they would finish in the 36 hours allotted each vehicle to complete the race.

“But the terrain was just incredibly rough, head and shoulders above anything we expected,” said England, who didn’t get a chance to drive in the actual race because El Tropico broke down before it was his turn.

“It was so rough in places you could only go 15 or 20 miles-per-hour.  And then you had to stop frequently to make repairs.”

Valvoline, one of the world’s foremost producers of motor oils, entered two 1989 Dodge Short Bed Regular Cab trucks in the Baja race to celebrate its 150th anniversary and the company’s extensive research and development history with Cummins, the lead partner on the project.

The initiative was designed to provide Valvoline employees with the chance to test their own automotive skills and learn more about their product under the harsh conditions of an endurance race. The second truck was added so Cummins employees could have the same opportunity.

Their skills were tested and then some. A trailer on one of the team’s chase trucks, for example, got stuck in deep desert sand during practice. A chase truck’s transmission broke in the desert so it couldn’t go into reverse. A dune buggy the team borrowed to explore the course sunk trying to cross a stream after a veteran driver told them he thought it would clear without a problem. And those were only some of the challenges.

WORKING AS ONE

Valvoline worked on both trucks in the early phases of the project, with Cummins providing the engines and expertise on their installation. Closer to the race, the red truck headed to the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.A.) while the blue truck remained at Valvoline headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, providing each group time to make final adjustments.

The larger team was back together in Ensenada, Mexico, where the race started and finished, for race prep and it was there that employees from the two companies began working pretty much as one. They turned their hotel courtyard into an open air garage of sorts.

cummins-valvoline-baja-race-prep-3 El Tropico makes its way down the course at the 49th annual Score Baja 1000 in Baja California, Mexico. The race starts and stops in Ensenada, Mexico.

 

 

Michael Wedding, Valvoline’s Lead Build Engineer, described the team’s efforts as “amazing… I was so glad to see the collaboration between Cummins and Valvoline.”

“That was one of the highlights for me,” said England, Director – Materials Science & Technology at the Cummins Technical Center.

There was at least one other highlight. The two trucks were a big hit with fans at the race.  They were so different from the highly customized dune buggies and trucks that dominate Baja that crowds seemed to gather wherever the trucks went. Crew members answered questions and passed out stickers to fans clamoring to learn more. Team Valvoline arguably received the loudest roar at the starting line.

But while the truck got plenty of points for nostalgia, it probably didn’t have the frame and suspension necessary for the unforgiving Baja terrain, even with the work the team did before leaving for Mexico and then at the hotel in Ensenada.

England, Quinton and Sworski all say they learned a tremendous amount and would love to race again next year.

“You’d be hard pressed to keep me away,” England said. “The way I look at it, we have not finished – yet.”

VIDEO SERIES

Check out a multi-part video series on Team Valvoline’s bid for Baja. Valvoline will be posting additional episodes in the weeks to come.

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

New Cummins Powers Women Program to Accelerate the Advancement of Women and Girls Around the World

by Anna Lintereur,
Cummins' Mary Chandler (right) greets Denise Raquel Dunning, founder of Rise Up, at Thursday's announcement.
Cummins' Mary Chandler (right) greets Denise Raquel Dunning, founder of Rise Up, at Thursday's announcement.

Cummins has been grounded since its founding in the belief that wherever the company operates, it will leave communities stronger than it found them. Building more prosperous communities isn’t just better for the people living in them, it’s better for the company’s business and society at large.

Now Cummins is helping to empower a global community that needs support – women and girls.

“Cummins’ mission is to make people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world and Cummins Powers Women epitomizes this purpose,” said Tom Linebarger, Cummins Inc. Chairman and CEO. “One way we seek to better communities is by investing in programs that improve the lives of women and girls. We’ve seen firsthand the positive transformation that happens when we ensure diversity and inclusion within our organization, bringing more women into our business at every level.”

The Cummins Powers Women program is the company’s most ambitious community initiative ever, representing a multi-million dollar investment designed to create large-scale impact in the lives of women and girls globally. Through Cummins Powers Women, the company will partner with a network of global nonprofit organizations that have existing, proven programs with metrics in place. The programs will focus on areas where significant barriers exist to the advancement of girls and women, including grass-roots teaching and mentoring, financial empowerment through entrepreneurship, leadership training, and strategic guidance to non-profit leaders.

Today, women continue to face inequality. Around the world, girls are less likely to finish high school, more likely to be married against their will as children, and less likely to have career prospects. But when women and girls are educated, given opportunity and paid fairly, families and economies prosper.

“The growth and improvements we have seen in our own company through an inclusive environment for women are the catalyst for us to dream about a future for all women that includes abundant opportunity for global leadership, invention, skill and creativity – a world powered by women in which progress accelerates, invention amplifies and solutions become easier to find,” said Mary Titsworth Chandler, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Executive Officer of the Cummins Foundation.

Cummins is focused on fixing the problem at its root and finding answers that will yield the greatest impact for women and girls to unlock their full power. The Cummins Leadership Team and regional leadership teams will spearhead this global effort, working closely with Cummins’ nonprofit partners in their regions and local communities.

The company knows that for many of its leaders, this work isn’t just a professional issue. It’s a personal one, too. It’s about our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and neighbors. After all, as Linebarger remarked, “Making an engine is hard. Making the world more just for women and girls is harder.”

Cummins is ready to take on this challenge.

Anna Lintereur

Anna Lintereur is Chief of Staff and Communications Manager for Corporate Responsibility at Cummins Inc. She joined the company in 2010, serving in a variety of roles including global communications leader for Corporate Responsibility and project manager for the construction of Cummins’ Distribution Business headquarters in Indianapolis. Prior to joining Cummins, she worked for Irwin Financial Corporation for more than 12 years.

Cummins Employees Set Record Building Stronger Communities Around the World

Cummins employees in Malaysia celebrate bringing solar lighting to a village without electricity.
Cummins employees in Malaysia celebrate bringing solar lighting to a village without electricity.

The solar lights Cummins employees built using discarded plastic bottles will deliver more than illumination for villages without electricity, according to Jason Chong, General Manager of Cummins Sales & Service in Malaysia.

“The most important impact is that they give hope to communities for a brighter future,” Chong said of the initiative that started in August 2017 in the Philippines and continued in November in Malaysia. “It significantly improves the safety environment of rural communities by providing lighting for foot paths and also homes, while removing potential fire hazards, such as traditional kerosene lamps.”

The Cummins’ “Liter of Light” initiative was one of hundreds of community service projects undertaken across the company during a record-setting year for employee engagement in the Every Employee Every Community (EEEC) program.

A best-ever 82.5 percent of eligible employees and contractors – 56,646 people in all – participated in the company’s Corporate Responsibility program in 2017. It’s the third consecutive year EEEC engagement has topped 80 percent for employees and eligible contractors, well above Cummins’ goal of 70 percent participation.

“It’s such an honor to work with so many people dedicated to improving the communities where our employees live and where the company does business,” said Mary Titsworth Chandler, CEO of the Cummins Foundation and the company’s Vice President – Corporate Responsibility. “Building stronger communities is truly aligned with our mission of making people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world.”

Under the company’s EEEC program, employees can work four hours on community service projects and longer with their supervisors’ approval. Through EEEC, Cummins invests thousands of employee hours in projects around the world.

EEEC initiatives in 2017 included an effort to provide career counseling and guidance to high school students in Ghana, a project to help immigrants in Germany with communications and cultural skills, and a tech literacy program in Indianapolis, Indiana (U.S.A.) that taught computer basics to students at a low-performing school.

The Liter of Light project in Malaysia is unusual in that it covers all three of Cummins’ corporate responsibility priority areas – the environment, education and equality of opportunity.

The project partnered with the non-governmental organization Incitement on the international effort that uses discarded plastic bottles to build the solar lights in communities without electricity. Filling the bottles with a little water and bleach and inserting a bulb inside of a test tube creates a light fixture that can be inexpensively paired with a small panel drawing energy from the sun.

The lights improve the environment by finding a use for the plastic bottles. The project is educational because village residents learn how to build additional lights and make any necessary repairs. And by providing light to guard against everything from fires to wild animal attacks, Liter of Light helps villagers focus on improving their lives and the lives of their families.

The Liter of Light project creates illuminated pathways, enhancing safety in villages without electricity.
Cummins employees install poles for the solar lights.

“The project is really meaningful,” said Johnnie Ang, Cummins Malaysia’s Community Involvement Team leader. “The solar powered lights are simple to build and will help people who really need it.”

To learn more about Cummins’ long history of Corporate Responsibility, click 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

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.

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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