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]

 

Speaking up, speaking out

Cummins - Mission Vision Values

A message from Tom Linebarger, Cummins Chairman and CEO, to all Cummins employees, customers and members of the communities in which we operate. 

Tom Linebarger - Cummins Chairman and CEOI write this message today with a very heavy heart. Like many of you, I have been horrified and angered by recent events, including the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The anger and frustration spilling into the streets reflect longstanding problems that must be addressed.  In the US, black people are discriminated against in systemic ways, often marginalized, and have increasing reason to fear for their lives.

It pains me that we have such deep-rooted racial and structural inequality in our country. And it pains me that we have been talking about this for far too long, and yet the intolerance and violence continues. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of peace, noted that a riot "is the language of the unheard." 

No one should feel afraid to go for a neighborhood run or to walk through a park.  Of course, no place is entirely safe and there are bad actors in every society.  But we know that it is not the same kind of danger for all of our citizens. We live in one country, yet our experiences are very different based on how we experience law enforcement – as protectors or as threats. For those of us who have the privilege to not worry that our son might be killed today because somebody thinks they just "look guilty," it is too easy to stand by and watch, wondering if people are overreacting.  I keep thinking about how different my world would feel if my children were under threat. 

We each have a role to play in calling for greater accountability from our government, from law enforcement, our neighbors and ourselves.

As a community, and particularly those of us who have the privilege of not living with the fear and constant threats to our well-being, we need to leverage our influence and power to speak up and speak out. We can no longer be silent or sit on the sidelines. We each have a role to play in calling for greater accountability from our government, from law enforcement, our neighbors and ourselves. We need to raise the bar and hold ourselves to a higher standard. What we have today is simply not good enough. We need to work together to root out hate and replace it with a deep and abiding appreciation for diversity, equality, and inclusion. It starts with us. And we cannot wait.

I know that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways that we connect and express caring for one another. It is not as easy to talk to each other as it used to be. But we can still connect with others, and it has never been more important to do so.  I am asking you to be proactive and to check in with your colleagues and friends, your team members, and others who you think might be impacted in some way by the current events. Don’t wait for the next scheduled call – do it today. Ask them how they are doing. Be fully present and listen empathetically and engage with genuine care. 

Our leadership team is closely monitoring the situation in Minneapolis and around the country. Site leaders will reach out to employees who work at a facility that is or might be directly affected to discuss safety and security measures. 

I am grateful to work for a company that cares about our people and that works to include all members of our community in our success.  

Thank you for all that you do.

Stay safe,

Tom Linebarger
Chairman and CEO
Cummins Inc. 

Tom Linebarger Chairman and CEO

Tom Linebarger

Tom Linebarger became Chairman and CEO of Cummins Inc., the largest independent maker of diesel engines and related products in the world, on January 1, 2012.  Prior to becoming Chairman and CEO, he served as President and COO from 2008 to 2011, Executive Vice President and President, Power Generation Business from 2003 to 2008, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 2000 to 2003, and Vice President, Supply Chain Management from 1998 to 2000.

Cummins employee joins the frontlines of the fight in the U.K. against COVID-19

Cummins employee Stephen Layton checks the medical gases at the Nightingale Hospital at ExCeL London.
Cummins employee Stephen Layton checks the medical gases at the Nightingale Hospital at ExCeL London.

Stephen Layton is a Cummins employee in the U.K. and a husband and father to three children. With COVID-19 cases rising, it would have been easy to become insular. But when he thought he could help, Layton didn’t hesitate.  

Prior to joining Cummins as a telecommunications manager, Layton worked in the medical gas testing industry, ensuring that oxygen and other essential gases needed in hospital intensive care units were up to standards.

When the pandemic escalated in the U.K., Layton was sought after by contacts from his medical gas testing days to help as a volunteer testing the medical gases at some locations including the Nightingale Hospital at ExCeL London.

The Nightingale Hospital at ExCeL London.
The Nightingale hospitals like the one at ExCeL London provided valuable capacity to the British health care system at the peak of the virus outbreak and will remain open in case the virus spikes again.

The exhibition and convention center was initially converted into a 500-bed hospital with ventilators and oxygen to help with the crisis but was later expanded to a 2,000-bed facility.

“I thought about the thousands of people who would need these medical gases to survive and couldn’t say no to playing my part,” said Layton, who has also volunteered at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, another convention center converted into a Nightingale Hospital about two hours northwest of London. 

He has completed more than 100 volunteer hours at these hospitals and is scheduled for more. Layton and the team he’s working with have now tested gases on more than 3,000 bed-stations at different Nightingale hospitals. Each bed has an oxygen supply to deliver directly to patients and another oxygen and medical air supply to run ventilators.

Through it all, for Layton and the team, safety has been the number one priority. 

“We adhere to the highest safety and hygiene procedures at all times,” he said. “We drive in separate cars to the hospitals, even though most of us live close to each other and could carpool; we keep our masks on; we wash our hands frequently and we maintain good distance while working.” 

Layton is one of many people around the world putting themselves on the line to help in the response to COVID-19. His volunteer service and dedication embodies the Cummins values of caring and integrity.


 

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.

Doing our part: Increasing digital inclusion through technology

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020
GAAD is an annual observance dedicated to encouraging the world to talk, think and learn about digital access, inclusion and people with different disabilities. 

This year marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an annual observance dedicated to encouraging the world to talk, think and learn about digital access, inclusion and people with different disabilities. 

At Cummins, we have a deep-rooted commitment to empowering our employees to reach their full potential by working to ensure a truly diverse, accessible, equitable and inclusive environment. For Dennis Heathfield, Executive Director of Inclusion – People with Disabilities and Veterans at Cummins, the opportunity to join GAAD and help the organization amplify its mission is a no brainer.

“Our goal is to reduce barriers to employment for people with disabilities and having accessible technology is a first step in that,” Heathfield said. “We are proud to recognize Global Accessibility Awareness Day and partner with our employees to ensure they have technology to meet their needs.” 

Making technology accessible

As a company with more than 60,000 employees around the world, efforts to create an inclusive work environment extend to the technology Cummins employees use to perform their jobs, including websites, software, computers and mobile devices. 

The company’s aim is to enable employees to fully and independently understand, navigate and interact with technology functions and features easily and effectively. 

“We believe that technology is for everyone,” Heathfield added. “As a company with a rich history of diverse and inclusive policies, we continuously look for ways to make the tools our employees use every day more accessible for users of all abilities.” 

From speech recognition software to captioned telephones (CapTel), the following portfolio of solutions – available to Cummins employees around the world – highlights the company’s continuous efforts to ensure that employees get the most from their technology. 

  1. Speech Recognition Software - The enterprise-ready speech recognition solution converts speech to text empowering employees to create high-quality documentation faster and more efficiently.
  2. Text Prediction Software – AI-powered text predictions help employees avoid typing the same text over and over again in applications they use every day.
  3. Magnifier/Reader Software – A magnifier/reader is a fully integrated magnification and reading program tailored for low-vision users. Magnifiers/readers enlarge and enhance everything on an employee’s computer screen, echoing their typing and essential program activity, and automatically reading documents, web pages and email.
  4. Captioned Telephones - Designed exclusively for individuals with hearing loss, captioned phones (CapTel) work just like any other phone, but users can listen and read word-for-word captions of everything said over the phone.

Ways you can help

Ready to take action? Learn more about GAAD and obtain guidance on how to improve digital accessibility in your workplace by visiting Global Accessibility Awareness Day online, and read about Cummins’ long history of diversity and inclusion

You can also help spread the word about GAAD on social media by joining the conversation and tagging your posts with #GAAD and #InclusionAtCummins

Lauren O'Dell Sidler - Cummins Inc.

Lauren O'Dell Sidler

As a senior communications specialist with Cummins Inc., Lauren O’Dell Sidler works with Cummins leaders to develop and implement communications strategies that reach Cummins’ global audience. 

Employee uses analytical skills to help hospital plan for COVID-19

Cummins employee Stephen Aryee's model will help health care officials in his community.
Cummins employee Stephen Aryee's model will help health care officials in his community.

Having grown up in western Africa, Stephen Aryee is no stranger to health epidemics and the devastating impact they can have on communities.

When he read a news article in early March about COVID-19 cases in the U.S. where he lives now, Aryee was curious to understand how the virus could impact his local community. He thought he might be able to help others gain insights because of his work at Cummins in strategy and market intelligence.

“I felt a sense of urgency when I saw the data,” said Aryee, a Market Insights Segment Leader in the Strategy group. “I felt compelled to find a way to help.” 

MINING THE DATA

Using data he found on Johns Hopkins University’s website, he began building a model focused on Bartholomew County, Indiana, where he currently lives and works and where Cummins has its headquarters. In under a week, the model was complete, producing four key outputs:

•    Actual infections compared to confirmed cases, showing community leaders how the virus may be spreading but hasn’t been captured by confirmed tests.  
•    Potential hospitalizations based on real cases instead of confirmed cases. 
•    Time for a surge to reach hospitals, helping health officials with capacity planning, so they have enough resources to respond. 
•    Expected peak of infection if social distancing guidelines are implemented. 
 
“I knew that if we were behind the curve when the surge hit our community, it would result in a lot of lost lives,” Aryee said. “We’ve got to have a handle on this. I thought if I could make the right models, it would help leaders make informed decisions.” 

PERFECT TIMING

He presented his work to a Cummins business leader, who immediately connected him to Jim Schacht, Executive Director of Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility, and also a member of a Columbus, Indiana, based coronavirus task force. Schacht quickly shared Aryee’s work with leaders at the city’s hospital, Columbus Regional Health (CRH). 

Aryee’s work couldn’t have come at a better time. The executive team at CRH was already working with an analytics group to apply state-level data but needed help localizing it to the 11-county region the hospital serves. He shared his work with CRH leaders to help with modeling data as they define action plans.

“His current role at Cummins requires using lots of data to create a forecast,” said Jahon Hobbeheydar, Executive Director of Corporate Strategy. “I’m proud of him for applying his unique skills to benefit his community in this critical time of need.” 

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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