Cummins Partners with Microsoft and McKinstry to Shape the Future of Datacenters

IN A BUILDING THAT APPEARS MORE INDUSTRIAL THAN HIGH TECH, CUMMINS IS PARTNERING WITH TECH GIANT MICROSOFT AND BUILDING SERVICES LEADER McKINSTRY ON A PROJECT THAT MIGHT SOMEDAY ALLOW DATACENTERS TO UNPLUG FROM THE GRID.

Testing is expected to begin soon on natural gas powered fuel cells at the Microsoft-Cummins Advanced Energy Lab in Seattle, Washington (U.S.A.). The 20-rack environment in the lab seeks to simulate datacenter conditions to allow the evaluation of new technologies, which have the potential to improve efficiency, reduce emissions and decrease the costs associated with datacenter operations.

If the fuel cell concept is successful, it has the potential to greatly simplify datacenter power architecture, potentially doubling efficiency while reducing costs and improving reliability.

Cummins is involved as both an investor in the project and a technology development partner, including systems integration. One part of Cummins’ global business is the design and manufacture of power generators for prime and backup power, including complete critical backup power systems for datacenters.

“This project is another example of how we are committed to developing a wide variety of power technologies to bring our customers the choice and solutions that enable their success today and in the future,” said Cummins’ Vice President and Chief Technical Officer Jennifer Rumsey.

“We’re excited to be working with fantastic companies like Microsoft and McKinstry on such a potentially important project,” she added. “All of the partners are committed to achieving our company goals through technological innovation and environmental stewardship.”

Datacenters use a lot of energy, consuming about 2 percent of all U.S. electricity, according to the United States Department of Energy. Microsoft says the natural gas powered fuel cells could not only be better for the environment, but improve the reliability of the grid in addition to lowering costs.

Microsoft announced last fall its ambition to substantially simplify datacenters and has been speaking more generally for the past decade about someday making datacenters disappear.

“Most fuel cell implementations seen today are parallel to the grid or an alternate source of grid power,” the company said in a recent blog post about the lab. “But we opted to start from a blank sheet of paper and engineered from the server out, cutting out the unnecessary electrical equipment and even the electrical grid.”

There are still some details to wrap up before the lab is complete and testing can begin, but Cummins is excited about the project’s potential and the chance to continue working with Microsoft and McKinstry. Executives of the three companies will be hosting elected officials and community leaders at the lab’s grand opening on Oct. 25.

Jon Mills

Jon Mills

Jon Mills is the Director of External Communications at Cummins Inc. Jon brings more than 16 years of communications focusing primarily on public and media relations. Jon has served as the primary external communications contact and spokesperson for a variety of companies including Wellpoint, IU Health, Planned Parenthood. His career has also included stints on Capitol Hill, state level lobbying, talk radio and political campaigns. During his tenure, Jon has also played a leadership role in communicating and messaging around several crises, including one that attracted national attention when lives were lost at a large downtown Indianapolis hospital. Jon is a native Hoosier and resides with his family in Indianapolis.

Shop Cummins in North America: Everything you need to know

Shop Cummins - Cummins Genuine Parts
Shopping for genuine Cummins products just got easier – and more convenient – with the launch of shop.cummins.com. 

From genuine Cummins parts to Fleetguard (and everything in-between), you'll find over 50,000 SKUs on Shop.Cummins.com

Buying genuine Cummins products from the comfort of your own home? You better believe it. Shopping for genuine Cummins products just got easier – and more convenient – with the launch of shop.cummins.com

We recently sat down with Vipul Tandon, President, Cummins Power Generation North America, to discuss the future of e-commerce at Cummins and gain the inside scoop on the recent launch of shop.cummins.com in the U.S. and Canada. 

Question: Vipul, in your own words, how would you describe the new shop.cummins.com?

ANSWER: Live, Seamless, Effortless and Hassle-free are the words that are top-of-mind that convey what we designed the entire shop.cummins.com experience around. 

“Live,” as in real time view of in-stock availability. 

“Seamless” in the ability to search for the right matching parts by Engine Serial Number (ESN) as well as offering over a dozen of our own and partner brands.

“Effortless” in the way customers can connect to support via chat, phone and email.

And finally, “hassle-free” local pick up options (where available), shipping and return too, if needed.

Question: What were some of the factors driving Cummins’ decision to expand their presence within the e-commerce space? 

ANSWER: The retail marketplace in North America has been on a journey toward e-commerce for nearly 20 years. Commercial end customers, however, have been slow to adopt their buying behaviors – still preferring to transact business over the counter (OTC), and even resorting to non-genuine will-fit parts when needed to preserve that OTC contact. 

The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 changed customer’ preference significantly. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, online commerce sales are up 40% year-over-year. The safety, ease and convenience of online shopping will continue to drive this step change adoption of e-commerce.

Cummins Genuine Parts
"The launch of our shop.cummins.com store is a step change in our value package offering to our customers." - Vipul Tandon

Cummins Sales and Service North America (CSSNA) has had a small online shopping presence since June 2018 with the launch of its Canadian online store, and July 2019 for a small U.S. online store. The store “catalog” mainly focused on select Onan parts, Fleetguard filters and allied partner products. 

In July 2020, we added approximately 800 popular Cummins parts to our U.S. and Canada online stores.  The enthusiastic response from our customers underscored the value of providing a comprehensive product offering for purchase online. The launch of our shop.cummins.com store is a step change in our value package offering to our customers!

Question: Why might someone prefer to order Cummins parts on shop.cummins.com as opposed to, say, doing so in person?

ANSWER: The last year has taught a lot of us about the advantages of working and shopping remotely. My own grocery shopping experience has my time involvement cut in half and, get this – my checkbook thanks me too for avoiding all the impulse purchases! My favorite grocery store’s app saves me effort and time that I can instead dedicate to activities I enjoy, reading a book or spending time having fun with family and friends.  

Question: What are some of the markets and segments that shop.cummins.com will initially serve, and how were these initial markets determined? 

ANSWER: Our focus remains on DIY customers and small owner operators that are most prone to the will-fit channels. And we wanted to offer the most comprehensive offering possible. So the exclusions are instead easier to answer – these are HHP engine parts, OEM unique parts (e.g. FCA), non-Cummins engine applied parts (MX), natural gas, software licenses, recon engines that have emissions PC&C requirements and generators.

We will also be offering consumer products like Cummins portable generators in the very near future.

Question: What type of parts and products will the site offer customers? 

ANSWER: We are launching with over 50,000 SKUs that can be largely categorized by our in-house and partner brands - Cummins saleable parts (new and ReCon), Cummins Onan parts, Fleetguard, Webasto heaters, Valvoline™ fluids, Power Service additives, comprehensive maintenance kits, the R2.8 Crate Engine and of course the customer favorite - Cummins licensed merchandise!

Shop Cummins Product Lines
"We are launching with over 50,000 SKUs that can be largely categorized by our in-house and partner brands." - Vipul Tandon

Question: If you could hop into a time machine, what does the future of e-commerce – maybe even e-commerce at Cummins - look like to you? 

ANSWER: The future of e-commerce has limitless potential. 

I am not a futurist, and know that much of what the “Jetsons” told us about the future has yet to come true. What I can say confidently is that our Cummins brand has been synonymous with power and innovation that our customers have come to depend on for over a century. And for good reason. E-commerce is just one more example of Cummins staying true to our innovative spirit, and wherever the industry goes we’ll be there, ready to serve our customers where – and when – they want us. 

Michael Nagel - Cummins Inc

Michael Nagel

Michael Nagel is the Leader, Digital Brand Reputation for Cummins Inc. As a member of the external communications team at Cummins, he has more than 10 years of digital communications and traditional public relations experience, with a focus on brand social media, content marketing and digital communications. Michael earned his B.A. from the Indiana University School of Journalism - Indianapolis and currently resides in Indianapolis. 

Stranded: One tech’s 40-day island odyssey in the Indian Ocean

Rajeev Rai (right) spent much of  his island stay in a room (left) at the utility where he was working.
Rajeev Rai (right) spent much of his island stay in a room (left) at the utility where he was working.

Lakshadweep is an archipelago off the southwestern coast of India. The name translates to “one hundred thousand islands.” 

Though the title may seem quite grand, the total surface area of the union is just 12 square miles. Ten of the islands are inhabited. One received a visit from a Cummins Sales and Service technician during the COVID-19 pandemic he won’t soon forget. 

Kiltan is a coral island in the archipelago with a population just under 4,000. The island used to be part of an international trade route supplying fish and coconuts, but its economy has expanded to include government jobs, such as education, law enforcement, and transportation.

To support the island’s residents, the Lakshadweep Electrical Department (LED) has three generators providing prime power. A combination of generators from Cummins and two other companies provide electricity to all of Kiltan.

After some issues developed with the system at the end of last year, Cummins Technician Rajeev Rai was deployed from the mainland to install a new pump and injectors on March 17.

A JOB WELL DONE

Rai completed the replacement on March 18 and carried out a load trial on March 22. Extremely satisfied with its restored power, the utility wrote a gracious note praising Rai as “hardworking and very productive.” It was time for him to return home. 

That’s when the trouble started.

The nearest port city to Lakshadweep is Kochi, which is where Rai was supposed to go to get back to the mainland. But on March 23, a lockdown was implemented due to COVID-19 and all transportation to and from Kochi stopped.

There was no way for Rai to return home.

Unable to travel, Rai stayed at the utility and monitored the generator sets as needed. Living in the utility’s workshop, he managed with few household items.

Rai did have access to the Internet, and he managed to participate in every Cummins teleconference call that he could.

HOME AT LAST

After 40 days on the island, Rai was finally able to return home.

When an employee agrees to work for Cummins, there is no box to check that says, “I will go the extra mile.” Fortunately, that just comes naturally.

The people that bring Cummins products to life exemplify integrity and excellence every day. Rai's commitment is certainly one that Cummins and its customers are indebted to.

Providing reliable power is more than high quality pieces of metal, wonderfully engineered technology and trusty applications that will get the job done. It is a culmination of company culture, innovative leadership and, most importantly, exceptional people.

Across the world, employees like Rai promise to support customers every step of the way: including, but not limited to, on an archipelago in the Indian Ocean during 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.

First responder praises response from Cummins

The Middletown Fire Department in Media, Pennsylvania, knows residents are counting on a swift response at any time of the day or night, especially in times like these.
The Middletown Fire Department in Media, Pennsylvania, knows residents are counting on a swift response at any time of the day or night, especially at times like this.

Cummins can only power a more prosperous world if society’s most essential functions are thriving. 

Hospitals cannot lose power, semi-trucks cannot break down and first-responder vehicles need to be ready for any call. In all of these scenarios, customers depend on Cummins powered products to maintain the world’s most essential functions. There is no time for error or malfunction.

That is why Cummins Care is standing by, ready to support any service request at a moment’s notice. The Chief Engineer at the Middletown Fire Co. in Media, Pennsylvania, experienced this first hand when his department’s E-One Ladder truck was having mechanical issues in late March as anxiety was growing over COVID-19 in his community. 

Middletown Fire Department Chief Engineer Bob Tull (right).
Middletown Fire Department Chief Engineer Bob Tull (right).

Bob Tull has been a volunteer at the township fire department for 50 years and has been involved with apparatus ordering and design since 1972. With his decades of service comes many interactions with chassis providers, engine manufacturers and service technicians.

Therefore, a head-nod from a gentleman with his wealth of experience means just a little bit more. A customer visit that leads to gracious thanks and a call for continued partnership is one to be remembered. 

On Monday, March 27, some minor repairs were being completed on the Middletown E-One Ladder truck. During some standard evaluations, a tech noticed the vehicle’s oil pan appeared to be unusually wet.

The truck, which had been purchased in February of 2019, was still under warranty so Tull called 1-800-CUMMINS. Within the hour, a Cummins Sales and Service technician had been scheduled to visit the department the following morning between 7 and 8 a.m. 

Arriving at 7:05 the next day, Carlos Ocasio soon identified that the issue was more complex than initially anticipated. After a quick call, the decision was made to repair the vehicle immediately – which required having replacement parts delivered to the station that very day.

In a letter, Tull said Ocasio's service was completed “in what perceived to be record time,” adding that Ocasio was “extremely courteous and careful,” and “VERY knowledgeable about the apparatus.” Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said Ocasio was cautious and considerate in his presence, wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of distance and wiping everything down. 

Aside from performing maintenance on the ladder truck, there were a couple valuable outcomes from the day that Ocasio spent at the Middletown Fire Company. First, and most important, a first responder vehicle is still in commission to answer any critical needs. Cummins Care ensures that first-class service is prioritized for communities’ most essential operations.

Second, a customer was pleased enough by his experience with Cummins’ service he felt compelled to write a note about it. Tull mentioned in his letter that this was his station’s first Cummins engine and he “wanted to say how impressed the members of the department were with (Ocasio) and also the response from (Cummins’) organization.” 

The sensitive state of the world today calls for timely, educated and productive service. Not because customers are impatient, but because there are lives depending on the company’s products across the globe. Cummins stands by its commitment to deliver dependability during the times it is needed most.

The company can only power a more prosperous world if its most essential functions are thriving. That means responding to first responders with the help and support they deserve.  
 

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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