Franklin Chang Díaz and the Importance of the Not-So-Distant Future

Astronauts in space

It’s Wednesday morning and the Silicon Valley is witnessing a rare winter storm in February when Franklin Chang Díaz arrives at the Cummins Electrified Power Milpitas site. Díaz, along with Vice President of Corporate Strategy Thad Ewald and Vice President of Electrified Power Julie Furber are spending the day on a tour of the electrified power sites in Talent, Oregon and Milpitas, California. The group is visiting to see how the teams are bringing innovation to life and delivering for our customers, as well as sharing their own insights and direction for the business.  

Photo of Franklin Chang Díaz
Franklin Chang Díaz 

Franklin Chang Díaz has been on the board of directors at Cummins, as one of twelve board members, for nearly ten years. As a board member, he is focused on representing and protecting the interests of shareholders and positioning Cummins for the future. Prior to Cummins, Díaz spent twenty-five years working at the National Aeronautics and Space

Administration (NASA), manning their shuttles and working to build the International Space Station. He also served as the director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, part of NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center, for twelve years. Díaz is now the chairman and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company, a U.S. spaceflight engineering company based in Houston, Texas.  

As a former NASA astronaut, Díaz has extensive experience looking ahead, planning for the future and bringing to life innovative technology that challenges the limits of reality. Even as a young child, he had big dreams of exploring space. “I arrived in the United States in 1968,” he said. “My father gave me a one-way ticket to Hartford, Connecticut. I didn’t have a return ticket, and my father was very wise. He knew if I had that return ticket, I would have used it.” He attributes his success today to unwavering perseverance in the face of adversity, despite the language barrier and financial trials. 

It is this experience looking into the future that allows Díaz to be an important figure at Cummins. Space travel had once been something of a pipe dream, yet we have achieved flights to and from the great beyond. Now, we have turned our energy to a seemingly even greater challenge: the electrification of the most ubiquitous forms of transportation, for both cargo and passengers, right here at home. Díaz oversees this charge at Cummins with the same vigor that he used to spearhead humanity’s ascent into space--with an unapologetic view of what is possible. Although electrification activities have been happening throughout Cummins for many years, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of how we’re delivering electrified solutions for our customers.  As technology, infrastructure, regulation and customer demand all evolve, Cummins is positioned to deliver quality solutions now and well into the future.

For Díaz, space is the final frontier. He firmly believes that we will one day find and make homes in space, and that space holds the answers to the future of business and trade. It’s easy to think these ideas are too lofty, overly ambitious or even farfetched, but Díaz stresses there are currently eighty-four hundred metric tons of hardware orbiting the Earth all of which has only been placed in the last half-century. 

In some ways, Díaz’s mindset about space – that we’ve only scratched the surface – is similar to that of electrification. Although electrification activities have been happening throughout Cummins for more than a decade, we’re only just scratching the surface on how we’re delivering electrified solutions for our customers. As technology, infrastructure, regulation and customer demand all evolve, Cummins is positioned to deliver quality solutions now and well into the future. With big thinkers and innovators, not so different than Díaz, working together to challenge the impossible, it’s easy to see how we’re only just beginning.
 

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.

Are off-highway markets ready to take on the electrification challenge?

downtown city construction scene

Energy diversity, connectivity and automation are key trends transforming commercial industries across the globe. For off-highway markets, tough working conditions, long shift hours and high vehicle utilization are some challenges they face every day. As our industries evolve to mitigate these challenges, the Cummins portfolio is also evolving. Cummins continues to innovate its diesel and natural gas solutions, while also investing in electrified power options.

As the world looks for breakthroughs that will solve the problems of today and tomorrow, here are three ways in which electrification solutions for off-highway markets are challenging the impossible:

  1. Creating improved working environments – Equipment that runs for long hours in contained zones can contribute to high emission concentration. Areas such as ports, airports and distribution centers can suffer from reduced air quality. Electrifying the equipment found in these zones creates an improved, more pleasant working environment by reducing the exposure of vehicle operators to emissions. Earlier this year, Cummins announced that it will supply electric powertrains for Kalmar terminal tractors in Europe. The batteries on board are designed to take advantage of opportunity charging between multi-shift operations common in these settings and offer the benefit of reduced emissions.
  2. Facilitating new technologies –  Electric applications are leading the way in automation and development of anti-collision technology. Large numbers of sensors and sophisticated control systems contribute to benefits in reliability, performance as well as reductions in operating costs. Over the next decade, population growth in urban areas is expected to rise dramatically. Automating a city’s tube line will improve services and reduce downtime. In the dark, confined environment of the underground, anti-collision technology will promote safer operation of vehicles when expanding lines to cope with additional passengers commuting into the city center. 
  3. Building construction sites with reduced noise – Construction sites are inherently noisy. The clanking of steel, the beeps on equipment for safety, and often, the hum of the engines from the equipment contribute to very noisy environments. The recently unveiled electric mini excavator prototype powered by Cummins runs purely on battery power, not only reducing noise pollution but providing the possibility of longer working hours, due to reduced noise restrictions, meaning jobs can be completed faster.

For some working environments, electrified power solutions can present opportunities to improve the ways we work and even how we tackle new jobs, allowing operation in ways we didn’t once imagine. In preparing for tomorrow, we must invest today in diverse powers, like electrification and diesel, and technologies, like automation and connectivity, to meet the ever-evolving needs of our world.

This journey is only just beginning. Understanding, embracing and enabling these trends are how Cummins is shaping our strategy. Follow along as Cummins develops the next generation of electrified systems for off-highway applications. 
 

Cummins electric excavator
Cummins featured this electric prototype mini excavator at its stand this week at the BAUMA show in Munich, Germany. Powered by Cummins BM4.4E flexible battery modules (4.4 kWh each), the 3.5-ton excavator prototype is designed to support a full work shift and charge in under three hours. The machine eliminates all gaseous emissions and substantially reduces noise, making it ideal for use in urban and sub-urban construction.

 

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.

Researching clean power solutions at the Port of Los Angeles

Port of los angeles

Calling the Port of Los Angeles "busy" is an understatement...

Its 43 miles of waterfront is described as the leading gateway for international trade in North America. In 2018, 9.5 million containers – the highest container volume at a port in the Western Hemisphere ever – moved through the port. 

Cummins has helped its customers focus on improving air quality at the ports by providing the latest diesel and natural gas technologies that have dramatically reduced emissions. And engineers at Cummins are researching how electric powertrains may play a significant role in achieving these goals in the future. 

One of the challenges with implementing electric technology at ports is charging infrastructure. An innovative U.S. Department of Energy funded project, led by Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification (WAVE), is focused on developing and deploying high-power extreme fast charging.

WAVE will partner with Cummins Inc., Schneider Electric, Utah State University and Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI) to develop, deploy and demonstrate a first-of-its-kind 500kW “XMEG” wireless inductive charger to support battery electric drayage trucks. The solution leverages Utah State University technology for a direct medium voltage grid connection to greatly reduce the cost, size and complexity of installed XMEG systems.

WAVE technology transfers power through the air, from an embedded charging pad placed in the pavement to a receiving pad mounted on the vehicle's undercarriage, reducing the amount of on-board storage needed to operate. The innovative WAVE extreme fast charger will allow TTSI’s drayage trucks to charge during normal cargo loading and unloading stops. Combined with the groundbreaking improvements enabling extreme fast charge, this “top-off” charge capability will significantly extend the uptime of the trucks, eliminating battery range concerns and enabling them to complete the rigorous duty cycles associated with around-the-clock freight operations. 

 “This is a critical technology because battery electric commercial vehicles will play an important role in improving air quality in cities and ports, but charging infrastructure can be a barrier to their adoption,” said Michael Masquelier, WAVE’s Chief Executive Officer. “WAVE looks forward to a fruitful partnership with DOE and we are proud to help make zero-emission freight truck operations a reality.” 

Utah-based WAVE will deploy and field test the system this year and next. The new system will be installed at TTSI at the Port of Los Angeles. 

This project will showcase the technologies enabling the goals for continued improvement of air quality for ports. Cummins is integrating an electric powertrain that will successfully meet the operational needs of this demanding application at the Port of Los Angeles.

“We are pleased to work with these partners and develop our experience with extreme wireless fast charging, a key technology to enable broader adoption of electric powertrains,” said Wayne Eckerle, Vice President of Research and Technology at Cummins. “Our goal is to bring multiple clean power solutions to markets to help improve the environment while powering our customers’ success.” 
 

katie zarich author bio photo

Katie Zarich

Katie Zarich is Manager of External Communications for Cummins Inc. She joined the Company in 2015 after more than a decade working in government and the nonprofit sector. [email protected]

Cummins Named Newsmaker of the Year by Diesel Progress

Cookies designed for Cummins Newsmaker of the Year Award

Cummins is proud to be named Diesel Progress magazine’s 2018 Newsmaker of the Year for our innovation in our Electrified Power business. In 2018, Cummins accelerated its pace in the commercialization of electrified power with several new product announcements and acquisitions, all underscored by our commitment to invest $500 million in our electrification portfolio in the near term.

Here are three reasons why we’re thrilled to be Diesel Progress’ Newsmaker of the Year:

  1. It’s not bragging if someone else says it.

    While this award recognizes the company’s work in 2018, it’s particularly meaningful to receive and celebrate it in 2019, which marks our 100th year anniversary. With humble roots beginning in a machine shop in Columbus, Indiana, it doesn’t always feel natural for Cummins employees to brag about our work and how it’s impacting the world. For Cummins, innovation is part of our DNA. We have led our industries by consistently challenging the impossible and having a constant focus on technological innovation. We like to let our work speak for itself.

    Diesel Progress recognizes its Newsmaker of the Year as the thing to have generated the most news or “buzz” that year. For us, having so many people talk about how Cummins is electrifying the world and transforming the way we move people and products is the greatest recognition. We’re tickled that Cummins is on the forefront of people’s minds as the mover and shaker in electrification.
     
  2. We’re proud to disrupt ourselves.

    Our Chief Technical Officer Jennifer Rumsey likes to say that “Cummins is at its best when the industry is changing.” The company has left its mark by embracing these changes and harnessing them as opportunities to innovate the right technologies that matter in the marketplace and to our customers. Disruption breeds innovation. Cummins is no longer just an engine company, but a diverse powertrain company that provides the right power solution at the right time to our customers. 

    Diesel Progress notes that Cummins was an agent of disruption in the emissions technology space in the early 2000s, breeding new innovations that changed our industries. Cummins has learned time and again how to innovate and adapt, which has fueled our success. 
     
  3. Diesel Progress’ most decorated “Newsmaker of the Year.”

    This is the fourth time that Cummins has received this honor from Diesel Progress. No other company has been recognized more frequently. In addition to 2018, Cummins also earned the distinction in 2002, 2007 and 2013.
Diesel Progress presents Cummins with its 2018 Newsmaker of the Year award earlier this month.
Diesel Progress presents Cummins with its 2018 Newsmaker of the Year award earlier this month. From left to right – Julie Furber, Cummins Vice President – Electrified Power; Mike Brezonick, Diesel Progress – Senior Editor; Rich Freeland, Cummins President & COO; and Mike Osenga, Diesel Progress – Publisher.

 

“Cummins has been a clear leader in electrification and while other engine and powertrain manufacturers have followed, none have been as comprehensive and determined to make it happen as the folks in Columbus, Indiana. And that’s news. And that’s the 2018 Newsmaker of the Year.” – Diesel Progress

We are thrilled the world is taking notice. As a global power leader with an unmatched service and support network, deep industry knowledge and a unique scale advantage, Cummins is better positioned than any other company to win in electrification. 

Thank you, Diesel Progress, for this honor. To read more, visit Diesel Progress’ December 2018 magazine issue (pages 23-24).

Photo of Julie Furber, Vice President - Electrified Power

Julie Furber

Julie Furber is Vice President - Electrified Power at Cummins. A disruptor at heart, she is responsible for overseeing the development and acceleration of Cummins knowledge and capability in electrification, positioning the company to be the leading provider of electrified power in commercial markets. 

Behind the Scenes of Electrified Power’s New Recruiting Film

Behind the scenes of Cummins "Wild Ideas" video shoot

Show, don’t tell.

Cummins Electrified Power business’ latest video, titled "Wild Ideas," follows the authentic and compelling story of a young creator who dreams big and sees the world in unique ways.

You’ll get a snapshot of a young girl’s creativity when she designs a pedal-powered bike light and then electrifies the bike so she can keep up with professional cyclists. Her entrepreneurial and innovative spirit eventually leads her to Cummins as a potential employee. Here she finds a place with the culture and resources that match her ambitions. 

Cummins 'Wild Ideas' video shoot - behind the scenes

A part of the Electrified Power business’ “Feel the Energy” recruitment campaign, the video was created in hopes engineers and other creators will see a younger version of themselves in the story, shaping their own destiny. The scenes were shot on location at the Cummins Pilot Center in Columbus, Indiana and in a garage in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

The personality and emotion the film conveys brings Cummins’ vision to life. Powering the future is why we’re in this business. And our innovation is powered by the entrepreneurial spirits of Cummins’ employees, a diverse and curiosity-driven workforce. The spot appeals to broad audiences and candidates who align with Cummins’ core values and mission. 

Cummins "Wild Ideas" video shoot - Behind the scenes

The film was created to inspire and engage current and future Cummins employees. To that, we say "mission accomplished." Some audiences have even been moved to tears by the video and you just might, too.

Watch the video and feel the energy.  


 

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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