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. [email protected]

A profile on Cummins Juarez

Cummins plant in Juarez

Celebrating the contributions of our Latino and Hispanic employees.

  • 2018 is forecasted to be the highest-revenue year in Cummins Juarez’s 33-year history – a testament to the importance of NAFTA.
  • Employees volunteered 30,000 hours of community service over the past five years.
  • Cummins Juarez won a 2018 Global Impact Award for a project that will generate enough green power to reduce site carbon emissions by 204 tons per year.
  • Three grants totaling $1 million were approved in 2018, which will fund impactful and sustainable projects for improving the community of Juarez and El Paso.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Cummins is celebrating the dedication and contributions of its Hispanic and Latin American employees and communities. This recognition extends to the manufacturing and supply chain employees who support Cummins on the front lines. With approximately 20 plants or sites supporting all business units located across the region, Cummins’ presence in Latin America is significant and increasingly important.

Cummins Juarez, located in the binational community of Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, is just one example. As Cummins’ largest manufacturing site for the Components business segment, Cummins Juarez produces more than 3.8 million components each year and is on target to achieve its highest-revenue year in its 33-year history.

One of the cornerstones of Cummins’ success in the region is NAFTA – the single most important trade agreement to Cummins which has helped grow the economies of the US, Mexico and Canada. Prior to the agreement, Mexico was one of the most protectionist countries in the world, with automotive imports into Mexico facing tariffs as high as 20 percent. NAFTA brought down trade barriers and allowed Cummins to avoid duplication of manufacturing capacity to take care of Mexico engine and components demand.

Cummins continues to advocate for a modernized NAFTA that incorporates trade, investment and related regulatory reforms. A renegotiated NAFTA could continue to help produce benefits across the three countries and continue to help Cummins grow in the NAFTA countries and contribute to continued growth and success at its sites across Mexico, like Cummins Juarez.

Cummins Juarez is home to Cummins Electronics and Fuel Systems (CEFS) and Cummins Emission Solutions (CES). CEFS manufactures new and legacy XPI products, such as fuel injectors, and is home to a joint venture between Cummins and Scania, a major manufacturer of commercial vehicles. CES manufactures Urea dosers and pumps.

Using several advanced salvage processes, CEFS Juarez also remanufactures electronic control modules and sensors and Cummins-designed fuel systems, and they’re proud of their remanufacturing focus. Remanufacturing is the ultimate form of recycling, as it helps reduce costs for customers and offers environmentally friendly manufacturing solutions.

Below are just a few additional highlights for Cummins Juarez.

OVERALL SITE STATISTICS

Site Location: Juarez, México, and El Paso, Texas (warehouse).
Year opened: 1985
Site size/plant sizes (acreage/square footage): 260,000 Sq. Ft. + 70,000 Sq. Ft. for warehouse.
Business Unit: Components Business Segment
Site Leader: Robert Rivas
Site employee count: 2,593 employees
Products manufactured: Fuel systems, electronic control modules, sensors and dosing systems
Customers: Rocky Mountain Engine Plant, Jamestown Engine Plant, Seymour and San Luis Potosi Engine Business Unit plants and all aftermarket plants
Product applications: 
On-highway – semi cabs, pick-up trucks, school and public buses, RVs, fire trucks
Off-highway – marine, military vehicles, construction equipment

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Cummins Juarez employees contributed 30,000 hours of community service in the last five years.
  • Cummins Juarez has three strategic community partners that feature impactful and sustainable projects (more than 800 children are being impacted):
    • Ojos de Dios (God’s eyes) – Priority areas include the environment and equality of opportunity
    • Carlos Urquidi Elementary School – Priority areas include education and the environment
    • Ciudad del Nino (City of the Child) – Priority area includes equality of opportunity 
  • 2018 has been an exceptional year for the Cummins Juarez Community Involvement Team, receiving three grants from the Cummins Foundation.
  • The Cummins Juarez Scholarship Program provides 15 middle school students with a monthly scholarship funded by Juarez plant employees through an innovative vending machine program (started on 2011).

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

  • Operations 
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Quality Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Product Engineering
  • Supply Chain – Planning and Logistics
  • Information Technology
  • Finance
     
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.

Lisa Yoder posthumously honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Last week, Lisa Yoder, former Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Cummins, was posthumously honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Central Indiana Supply Chain Awards (CISCA).

DLisa Yoderuring the event, it was also announced the Lifetime Achievement Award would be named after Lisa in honor of her commitment and dedication to her work and the time she invested in supporting her supply chain leaders and colleagues. 

More than 200 supply chain professionals came together on Sept. 13 to recognize 37 nominees and 9 winners during the first-annual CISCA event, powered by BCforward. The event, organized by the Institute for Supply Management – Central Indiana (ISM) and the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council (Mid-States MSDC), is the first of its kind in Central Indiana.

Thad Ewald, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Cummins, accepted the award in Lisa’s honor. Members of Lisa’s immediate family and several of her former Cummins colleagues were also in attendance to celebrate Lisa’s accomplishments.

“It was an honor to accept this award on Lisa’s behalf,” said Thad Ewald, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Cummins. “She was a good friend and a valued colleague, and she left a lasting legacy at Cummins.”

Thad Ewald, Vice President of Corporate Strategy, accepts the award in Lisa's honor.

Lisa led Cummins’ Global Supply Chain and Manufacturing functions from 2011 to 2017, when she passed away after a long-fought battle with cancer. Through her tenure, she courageously led Supply Chain operations for Cummins locations across the globe. Lisa successfully pulled each supply chain function and operation under one umbrella and established the strategy for the supply chain transformation in 2012. This was no small feat, as this transformational work applied to and affected 190 countries in which Cummins does business, thousands of employees, and hundreds of work streams and processes. Lisa’s vision was instrumental in driving the current transformational journey within the Supply Chain, and her impact can still be felt today.

Lisa invested countless, selfless hours in recruiting and promoting the supply chain profession as a career choice. When Lisa became ill, she found inspiration from mentoring and teaching others the importance of the supply chain industry and living life to the fullest.

We at Cummins – those who knew her well and those who witness her legacy – couldn’t be prouder and are thrilled to see her impact live on through the CISCA Lisa Yoder Lifetime Achievement Award. 
 

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.

I am a Collaborative Robot. I am Manufacturing.

I am Manufacturing: Collaborative Robots

Advancements in technology, the internet of things and the power of big data are driving innovation across all industries – and the manufacturing industry is no different. This next wave of technological advancement in manufacturing is being dubbed Industry 4.0.

From more powerful, secure networks and universal connectivity, to advanced technologies and enterprise-wide data hubs, manufacturing’s technological future has many facets and possibilities. Today, we’re seeing examples of technological advancements within Cummins’ 90-plus Manufacturing plants across the globe. 

One example is the Collaborative Robot.

What is a collaborative robot (Cobot for short)?

Simply put, a Cobot is a robot built to safely work with and around people. They’re meant to enhance the work of humans, working side-by-side with operators to perform low-risk tasks, which is a paradigm shift for the industry.

While Cobots were first designed in the 1990s, they didn’t become an industry option until just a few years ago. The primary difference between a robot and Cobot, aside from scale, are built-in sensing systems that provide Cobots the ability to monitor a path and determine, within milliseconds, if it needs to stop due to an obstruction in its path. Traditional robots are tasked with heavy duty jobs and are locked in a secure area away from humans.

CTP Cobot

Why cobots?

There are many advantages to using Cobots today:

  • While Cobots do not replace humans, they can take over dull or repetitive tasks that would often pose ergonomic risks to operators, such as uncomfortable wrist or shoulder rotations, and allow for easier quality and process control.
  • Cobots can eliminate the required safety perimeter and safely share workspace with operators, resulting in a safer work environment and efficiencies in plant design. (Safety protocols will still exist.)
  • Cobots are typically less expensive, due to built-in safety features, and result in a lower total cost of ownership.
  • Cobots are easier to program, and allow for hands-on programming and operator involvement

Where does Cummins use Cobots today?

Cummins has two active Cobot applications, one at the Charleston Turbo Plant (CTP) in Charleston, South Carolina, and one at the Darlington Engine Plant (DEP) in Darlington, U.K. Cummins Filtration and Cummins Emission Solutions are also developing new applications utilizing Cobot technology and plan to have Cobots active within their facilities by early 2019.

The CTP Cobot, dispenses a retaining compound and has operated for more than two years without any safety or downtime issues. This application allows operators to perform quality and process inspections within the same operating space as the Cobot and has solved many concerns including safety, ergonomics, quality and downtime issues. 
 
The DEP Cobot was installed in early 2018 and has a 2D barcode reader that scans and extracts fuel injection trim codes. This application has solved many quality issues, as the scans must be completed in a sequential order for successful programming. 

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.

Tom Linebarger receives the 2018 Man of Achievement Award from the Midwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League

Cummins Chairman and CEO, Tom Linebarger received the 2018 Man of Achievement Award from the Midwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for his efforts in advocating for fairness, equality and inclusion. The award was presented in Indianapolis, IN (USA).  

During his acceptance speech, Tom made an impassioned plea for each person to join the fight: 

"Now more than ever, those of us who believe in pluralism need to move to action.  We can no longer assume that all will be well but instead must turn our focus and all of our efforts toward this fight or it may actually be lost. Fortunately for us, there are people in our communities who have been at the frontline of this fight for a long time. 

I encourage you to seek out organizations who desperately need your time, your treasure, your voice and your shoe leather. Support them locally and nationally. Find out how you can be part of the solution. 

I would ask that you also speak up for the minority, for those with less, for refugees, for immigrants, for Jews, Christians, and for Muslims, for women and girls."

The ADL has a century-old mission to fight discrimination, extremism, terrorism, and all forms of hate in the real world and in cyberspace.  

Tom Linebarger accepts award for Man of the Year from the Anti-Defamation League

Lonnie Nasatir, ADL Regional Director, said “now is a pivotal time for our organization, our country, and the world. Combating and exposing extremism is essential. We work tirelessly to ensure justice and fair treatment for all through our work on immigration, voting rights, religious freedom, LGBTQ equality, and fighting discrimination. Tom exemplifies and champions our values every day.  We are honored to celebrate his accomplishments and thank him for furthering this critical work that is needed now more than ever.” 

Leaders at Cummins have a long history of standing up for what they believe is right, even in the face of adversity. Cummins leaders championed civil rights in the 1960s, took a stand against apartheid in the 1980s by leaving South Africa, despite the financial implications. In 2000, Cummins began offering domestic partner benefits to its employees, despite community opposition. 

And over the past decade, Cummins has publicly opposed discriminatory measures to permanently prevent same-sex marriage in Indiana as well as in other states like Minnesota and advocated for a statewide non-discrimination statute in Indiana. 

Last year, Cummins expanded its core value of diversity to diversity and inclusion. The company and its leaders like Linebarger are committed to creating work environments and communities that are welcoming to all people. 

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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