2020 is the 100th year anniversary of the power generation business at Cummins Inc. Founded by D. W. Onan in 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, today the power generation business helps you look ahead with the ingrained foresight to see what will be needed, the expertise and pragmatism to know how to get there, and the resources committed to the next generation of power.
Given our diverse and global set of customers, we had the opportunity to observe several defining moments that impacted our customers over the last century. Let’s look at four of these moments and trends that shaped how most of us experience healthcare, connectivity and our homes today.
1950s to 2010s: The rise of electricity in our homes
Once you are done with your busy day, your home will be waiting for you at a comfortable temperature. Hot water will be immediately ready for your shower, and lights and television will be on while you are having dinner. With electricity commonly powering all these routine tasks, it recently became the primary form of energy for many households. In fact, electricity now delivers more energy than natural gas to households, but this was not always the case.
Natural gas was the primary form of energy for many households through the second half of the 20th century and was commonly used for cooking and heating. Meanwhile, electricity kept gaining ground to first surpass the use of petroleum and more recently to surpass the use of natural gas as the primary form of energy in households.
Today, as our everyday lives become ever more dependent on electricity, consumers are increasingly relying on Cummins QuietConnect whole house generators to protect their homes and families.
1970s and 1980s: New life saving technologies and practices in healthcare
Today, physicians diagnose various diseases and conditions, and improve patient care using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. While these exams are well-known today, it was a defining moment in healthcare when the first MRI exam on a live human patient was conducted in 1977 1. This scanning technology rapidly became common across healthcare facilities in the following decades. In fact, today over 70 million MRI exams are conducted annually across the world 2.
In addition to the technology aspect, the 1970s and 1980s witnessed an introduction of new life saving practices in healthcare. The Joint Commission, founded in 1951 with a mission to continuously improve health care for the public, established the first accreditation standards for infection control in healthcare facilities. These infection control practices aimed to prevent or stop the spread of infections in healthcare facilities.
The imaging technologies and infection control practices had astonishing effects in patient care. Meanwhile, they have also impacted healthcare infrastructure. Increased infection control resulted in increased use of electricity in healthcare facilities, and most of the modern MRI machines need high quality power 24/7 even if they are not scanning.
Today, the healthcare industry (hospitals to medical offices) frequently rely on Cummins to deliver a full line of technologically-advanced power solutions to address their needs.
1990s and 2000s: Digital age starts, and the rise of data comes
We spend an average of six and a half hours online per day, and can’t imagine just a couple of hours without our smart phones 3. For businesses, it is no different either; many businesses, manufacturing to healthcare, rely on connectivity in their everyday operations.
This digital age was ignited during the 1990s with the rapid increase in the number of people having internet access. Then came the connected devices and new ways of consuming media; and these fueled the amount of data we generate at home, school and work.
Behind our connected lives, it’s the data centers few people see, but billions of people depend on to keep their phones and other devices connected. Data centers store, process and distribute data, and you rely on a data center every time you watch a movie on a streaming service, use social media or order online.
Data centers have no tolerance for power interruptions, and feature state-of-the-art power systems commonly relying on Cummins for back-up power solutions. Today, Cummins solutions are used in data centers in every continent, except Antarctica.
2010s: The rise of RV lifestyle as baby boomers move into the next chapter in their lives
From the rise of suburbs in 60s to the best years of rock and roll in 70s, many memorable trends over the last few decades were influenced by baby boomers, people who were born between the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s. Among other things, one aspect that has differentiated the baby boomers from other generations was the economic prosperity they enjoyed through the majority of their working life. This has also made baby boomers significant holders of wealth, as the generation is estimated to hold over half of U.S. household wealth 4.
As this generation moves into the next chapter of their lives, retirement, they are also fueling the rise of the RV lifestyle and influencing other generations to follow them. Today, the RV lifestyle is not just limited to baby boomers, as many families become modern nomads to spend more time traveling in pursuit of happiness. These made the 2010s the golden decade for the RV industry, with the industry shipping over 3.5 million RVs in the U.S. alone.
With the record growth of the RV industry, Cummins continues to power the RV lifestyle by developing new and innovative industry-leading engines and power generators. For more than 50 years, Cummins has built mobile power generators enabling RV owners to bring the comforts of home with them wherever they go.
While the four defining moments captured above are behind us, new trends ranging from internet of things and 5G to renewables are emerging and shaping our lives. These trends also create the need for innovations within the power generation industry, and we will cover two of these innovations that will shape the power generation industry in the next decade in March.
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- APS Physics. (July 2006). This Month in Physics History: MRI Uses Fundamental Physics for Clinical Diagnosis [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.aps.org/
- The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (n.d.). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams [Table]. Retrieved from https://data.oecd.org/
- Nielsen. (November 2018). Connected Commerce: Connectivity is Enabling Lifestyle Evolution. Retrieved from https://www.nielsen.com/
- MarketWatch. (December 2019). This depressing chart shows the jaw-dropping wealth gap between millennials and boomers. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/