Working together: Cummins and DuPont help address a critical shortage of N95 masks

Cummins Filtration - N95 masks filter media

Cummins and Dupont are working together to help address the current shortage of N95 masks in the United States and elsewhere around the world. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, Cummins and DuPont are helping address the nation’s shortage of N95 respirator masks. The need for the masks has skyrocketed in recent weeks due to the global pandemic, and Cummins will use its NanoNet® Media to help answer that need. 

According to Amy Davis, Vice President of Cummins Filtration, with many of the world’s leading mask manufacturers in need of the critical materials to assemble the masks and struggling to meet demand, Cummins will use pre-existing filter technology in partnership with DuPont to help fill the supply void. 

"Cummins is re-evaluating our supply base and manufacturing capabilities to identify how we can support our healthcare professionals who rely on critical personal protective equipment to do their jobs," Davis said. "Our NanoNet® Media can fill a key supply void and help address the mask shortage facing the United States and other countries around the world." 

The project also aims to provide open source instructions that other healthcare systems and groups can use to create their own respirator masks.

Supplying critical materials in a time of need

Cummins’ NanoNet® and NanoForce® Media technology, which uses DuPont’s Hybrid Membrane Technology (HMT), can typically be found in air, fuel and lube filtration products used in heavy-duty diesel engines to prevent long-term engine wear, but also can be used in the N95 respirator masks worn by healthcare professionals to filter harmful airborne particles that can spread COVID-19. 

The N95 designation means the respirator can block at least 95 percent of particles from entering the wearer’s nose and mouth. When Cummins’ NanoNet® Media was tested using an industry standard testing method, it exceeded the performance requirements for N95 designation. Cummins’ manufacturing facilities have since provided media samples to mask manufacturers across the globe to test its effectiveness.

Cummins Filtration - N95 masks - stock of media
Stock of Cummins Filtration NanoNet® and NanoForce® Media technology winding. 

While products featuring Cummins’ media will need to be vetted and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the company is preparing to do its part to help relieve the burden facing the healthcare industry. 

“We’re working as quickly as possible with healthcare regulators and other partners to help certify products with our materials, and prepare our manufacturing facilities to meet demand,” added Davis. 

Keeping our healthcare workers safe

The first mask prototypes using Cummins’ donated media were assembled by University of Minnesota teams in March as part of an initiative to provide masks to M Health Fairview and other Minneapolis-based healthcare systems. As the COVID-19 outbreak escalated, the University of Minnesota realized their supply of N95 masks to protect healthcare workers would potentially run out in a matter of weeks. 

To address this challenge, a team of designers, engineers, chemists, surgeons, anesthesiologist and apparel and clothing experts from the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Engineering in Medicine; Medical School; College of Design; College of Science and Engineering; and Center for Filtration Research Consortium (CFR) came together to address this projected shortage of critical personal protective equipment. 

N95 filter media infographic - Cummins
Advanced, high-performance media for N95 respirator manufacturing. 

"The first thing we recognized from our experts in the Center for Filtration Research, who work directly with Cummins, is that not all filtration materials are created equal and that the Cummins material is an excellent alternative," said Jakub Tolar, Campus Health Officer and Medical School Dean at the University of Minnesota. 

"We are tremendously grateful for the generous donation from Cummins of their filtration materials toward our mask effort. Since the arrival of the filtration media, we have been able to make rapid progress, and we now believe we have several viable mask options, including both a disposable and re-usable option. These designs show real promise in keeping our healthcare workers safe should standard medical supplies of N95 masks no longer be available,” continued Tolar.

While DuPont’s innovative and unique Hybrid Membrane Technology (HMT) is typically integrated with Cummins’ synthetic fibers to protect sensitive engine components, it has multiple other applications that can include filtration media used in N95 respirator masks. 

DuPont’s Hybrid Membrane Technology goes beyond the limits of traditional semi-porous or nonwoven membranes for air and liquid filtration. Made using a proprietary spinning process, the hybrid technology materials are comprised of continuous sub-micron fibers. The end result is a “membrane-like” sheet structure that balances breathability and high filtration efficiency of particulates. 

“We are proud to make our advanced technology available to help protect more caregivers on the front lines of this global health crisis,” said HP Nanda, Global Vice President & General Manager, DuPont Water Solutions.

“We thank our partner Cummins for transitioning the use of its production line to help address the global shortage of N95 mask materials, and we thank the experts at the University of Minnesota for their leadership in testing and designing several mask options for the benefit of many healthcare systems," Nanda added. "By working together—and innovating new applications of existing technologies and materials—we hope to slow the spread of this terrible virus."

Mask manufacturers interested in learning more about Cummins’ media technology can visit https://cumminsfiltration.com/respiratormedia.

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.

Cummins CEO highlights employee safety, ingenuity at Annual Meeting

CEO Tom Linebarger speaks at a past event, before the COVID-19 crisis. The 2020 Annual Meeting was held virtually to protect against the spread of the virus.
CEO Tom Linebarger speaks at a past event, before the COVID-19 crisis. The 2020 Annual Meeting was held virtually to protect against the spread of the virus.

Cummins is taking numerous steps to protect employees from COVID-19, Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said at the company’s Annual Meeting Tuesday.

The company has implemented health screenings and temperature checks for those entering plants, increased cleaning protocols and established a response center supported by medical personnel to answer employee questions 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Linebarger said.

He told shareholders the company has also established a leadership committee to respond to reported problems and a planning team focused on planning for future developments. Linebarger said the health and safety of employees and the communities where Cummins operates are the company’s first priority as it moves forward in these uncertain times.

“Most office employees around the world at Cummins are working from home as we comply with stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of the virus,” Linebarger said. “At the time of this meeting, several of our plants have gone through periods of shutdown or reduced capacity, and many locations are now resuming operations, though at a very reduced level. …Things look very different now than how we operated prior to COVID-19.”

A Seymour Engine Plant employee at work
A Seymour Engine Plant employee in Seymour, Indiana, working under the new plant rules since the pandemic. 

Linebarger said with most office employees staying at home, the company has been able to divert cleaning resources to facilities where employees are coming in to work every day, significantly increasing cleaning and disinfecting protocols. For those employees working in plants, in addition to the screenings and temperature checks, immediate care is available for anyone displaying symptoms for COVID-19.

 For employees whose work requires them to be in close proximity to others, the company has additional personal protective equipment for them to wear.

A DIFFERENT WAY TO WORK

Cummins has also redesigned certain processes and facility layouts to allow employees to operate safely and effectively, re-configuring assembly lines and entrances and exits to promote social distancing and ensuring common surfaces are cleaned regularly. In addition to answering questions, the response center is available to conduct contact tracing to determine people who might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

The company is using medical personnel from Cummins’ LiveWell health center in Columbus, Indiana, to support the COVID-19 response. center.

Linebarger said the company has benefitted from having dealt with the crisis since January when the virus was first discovered in China. Cummins has several facilities in Wuhan, China, considered the epicenter of the outbreak. All of Cummins’ plants in China are now back in operation and business has been brisk as the company’s customers have responded to pent-up demand.

An employee works in Seymour, Indiana.
In addition to masks, anyone entering the Seymour plant must pass through a health check where they get their temperature taken.

OPTIMISTIC SIGNS

That is only one hopeful sign. Linebarger said Cummins is also in a strong financial position. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $2 billion, strong credit ratings and Cummins’ pension plans are fully funded. Linebarger said aggressive action to cut costs such as reducing pay and hours for some employees, while painful, will serve the company well during this unprecedented downturn.

Even in the middle of the crisis, Cummins has maintained its investment in low- and no-carbon technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric power platforms that will position the company well for the future when more normal conditions and demand returns.

“During our 100-year history we have encountered several unforeseen crises and economic challenges,” Linebarger said during the virtual meeting, another first caused by the pandemic. “I am confident we will successfully navigate this one as we have done before and emerge stronger as a company.”

He said also true to the company’s history, Cummins employees have risen to the challenges presented by COVID-19, responding in new and creative ways to help the company and the communities where they live and work.

Employees have engaged in a host of activities, from helping day care centers and hospitals plan for COVID-19, to powering essential shipments of food and medicine, building and servicing the generators at emergency medical centers around-the-world, and partnering with other companies to increase the production of personal protective equipment.

“It will come as no surprise to you that our employees around the world have stepped up and responded to the needs of their communities in innovative ways,” Linebarger said. “…As always, our employees and our company are doing all that we can do to address this crisis in new and creative ways, and we remain committed to powering a more prosperous world.”
 

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]

 

Team saves test using Cummins' ingenuity

The Cummins team had to figure out quickly how to keep testing going while practicing all the COVID-19 safeguards.
The Cummins team had to figure out quickly how to keep testing going while practicing all the COVID-19 safeguards.

On-Board Diagnostic Misfire Testing is as complex as its name would suggest. Keeping a recent test moving forward might have been even more complicated.

The labor-intensive test requires a driver and technician sit side by side to test an engine under “real life” circumstances to prove to regulators its onboard diagnostics are capable of detecting a misfire due to a component failure that produces excessive emissions. The testing is critical to keeping the regulatory process moving forward on the engine model for 2021.

The testing had been taking place at a college several hours away and was at a critical moment when the school suddenly had to shut the lab down as part of its response to the COVID-19 crisis. As the Cummins team quickly made plans to shift testing back to Columbus, Indiana, a feat in itself, plans were also being forged by the test team group leader Alex Marin Cruz to finish the critical testing at the Olympia Building (OLY) – this time while maintaining all the recommended COVID-19 safeguards, including the six-foot social distancing rule. 

FINDING THEIR INNER MACGYVER

In the midst of all the other personal and professional stresses caused by the fast-paced global pandemic, a team of engineers and technicians from both OLY and the Cummins Technical Center (CTC) quickly brainstormed a safe solution.

They pulled more than 50 feet of ethernet and specialized cables from rarely used storage closets in CTC and OLY. Two-way radios that hadn’t been used in some time were dusted off. The testing was slightly reconfigured, so the driver and technician no longer had to sit together but could still communicate using the radios. 

The team lost just under 48 hours, but testing was ready to continue.

A view of the testing.
The team  found cable and two-way radios that hadn't been used in some time to keep the testing going.

NEVER A DOUBT

“We never had any doubt,” Marin Cruz said when asked if he ever thought the testing would have to be postponed. “We were just focused on safety and keeping us six feet apart.”

They are now on track to submit data as part of the certification package to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) by the regulator’s deadline. Their extraordinary efforts to keep the engine testing on track will likely be critical to keeping the project moving forward.  

Team members in addition to Cruz include Shelley Knust, Curt Barnhart, Justin Owen, Ansh Sharma, Michael Tress, Shashank Sharma, Celso Gomez, David L Adams, Arun Shori D Sundaravel, Daniel Holle, and Robert S. Jones.

They demonstrated, once again, that both the company’s value of teamwork and its vision to innovate for its customers are alive and well at Cummins. Even in the midst of 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.

Trio of honors reflect Cummins’ commitment to sustainability

Cummins has long believed that a wide range of factors determine the sustainability of a company.
Cummins has long believed that a wide range of factors determine the sustainability of a company.

Cummins  recently received three honors for its work on ethics, environmental resiliency and supplier diversity.

The recognition reflects the company’s broad approach to sustainability, including everything from Cummins’ efforts to shrink its environmental impact to corporate responsibility, health and safety, diversity and inclusion, financial success, innovation and governance and ethics. The company, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, is committed to staying in business for the next 100 years.

“When we initiated the World’s Most Ethical Companies recognition in 2007, the concept of companies proactively aligning profits and purpose seemed unlikely,” said Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich, upon announcing the group’s list, which Cummins made for a 13th consecutive year. “However, leading CEOs and organizations continue to prove our long-held hypothesis that conducting ethnical business is the key to maximizing profits.”

WORLD’S MOST ETHICAL COMPANIES

Ethisphere is  the global leader in defining and advancing standards of ethical business practices. It said 132 honorees representing 51 countries and 21 industries were included in the group’s 14th annual recognition. There were 14 newcomers to the 2020 World’s Most Ethical Companies list, while seven companies have received the designation every year since the list was first announced in 2007.

To be eligible for the designation, companies must fill out a comprehensive survey on their business practices. Most of the survey questions deal with ethics and compliance, but there are also questions about the company’s environmental performance, community engagement, and supply chain engagement and oversight.

Honorees have historically out-performed other companies financially, demonstrating the connection between good ethical practices and performance that’s valued in the marketplace. Other companies on the 2020 list included Accenture, General Motors, Microsoft and Waste Management. 

Hoosier Resilience Hero logo
TheEnvironmental Resilience Institute has prepared a video to celebrate the 2020 heroes.

HOOSIER RESILIENCE HEROES

Cummins has been named to the Environmental Resilience Institute’s Hoosier Resilience Heroes list, which recognizes individuals and groups across the state of Indiana for their efforts to prepare Hoosiers for climate change and promote safe, healthy communities. The institute is part of Indiana University.

"We affect our environment, and our environment affects us," said the institute’s Director Janet McCabe. "Whether it is coronavirus, climate change or corn yields, we live in interconnected systems. The better we understand these connections, the more resilient we can become to protect our health, our communities and our economy.”

Cummins, which has its headquarters in Indiana, was recognized for its PLANET2050 environmental sustainability strategy to reduce the company’s environmental impact. The strategy was released in 2019 and includes science-based goals timed to 2030 and aspirations for 2050. Cummins was the only company among the 2020 heroes.

This is the second year the institute has released a list. The institute’s mission is to enhance resilience to environmental change in Indiana and the Midwest by accurately predicting impacts and effectively partnering with communities to implement “feasible, equitable, and research-informed solutions.”

SUPPLIER DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Cummins has been named a Top Global Champion for Supplier Diversity & Inclusion, which recognizes corporations that lead with globally inclusive sourcing efforts. The recognition comes from a trio of groups: the U.S. Pan Asia Chamber of Commerce, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Disability:IN, the leading nonprofit for resource for business disability inclusion worldwide and WEConnect International, a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world.

Cummins finished No. 4 on the partners’ list behind only Kelly Services, Merc and IBM.

“If you are not sourcing inclusively everywhere you do business, you do not have full access to critical innovations and the best total value options that will help you meet and anticipate the needs of your clients,” said WEConnect International CEO and Co-Founder Elizabeth A. Vazquez. “This ranking showcases the acceleration of a truly global movement towards supplier diversity and inclusion.”
 

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]

 

Making the best of a bad situation to feed hungry kids

The canteen staff at the Daventry Engine Plant is now making lunches for disadvantaged youth in the community.
The canteen staff at the Daventry Engine Plant is now making lunches for disadvantaged youth in the community.

What do you do when you have more food than you know what to do with? For Cummins’ Daventry Engine Plant in the U.K. and the operator of its canteen, the answer became clear: feed hungry children. 

The plant and canteen are partnering with a not-for-profit group to make the best of the COVID-19 crisis, delivering prepared lunches to vulnerable children. Here’s how it all came together.

The canteen is operated by an outside supplier. It’s local manager and his staff have been working at the plant so long they are part of the plant family. As the plant implemented social distancing and work-from-home when possible, it became obvious the canteen should provide take-away service only.

As a result, canteen utilization decreased, and the canteen had excess food available that it didn’t want to spoil.The canteen manager spoke with Daventry Plant Manager Dave Barker about the challenges the canteen was facing and together they devised a plan.

First, the canteen began selling basic groceries to Cummins employees at cost, including pasta, eggs, bread and milk. This eased the shopping burden on the plant’s essential workforce at a time many grocery stores across the country, and around the world for that matter, were finding it hard to keep the basics on their shelves.  Then, the partners thought about what else they could do.

Lunches at the Daventry canteen packed and ready to go to children
Lunches at the Daventry canteen, packed and ready to go.

This time, they engaged the plant’s Community Involvement Team. The team reached out to local schools and learned some needed help providing lunches to vulnerable children with schools closed.

They also learned a Daventry charity needed a kitchen to continue providing meals to underprivileged children.The partners gave the charity a new option: focus on demand and distribution while the canteen staff takes on food production.

Today, the Daventry canteen staff is producing 300 packed lunches per day, which the charity delivers to local schools and sometimes directly to the homes of vulnerable children who typically receive free lunches when schools are open.

When the organization leaves a meal at a doorstep to maintain social distancing, the recipients often shout out their appreciation from doors or windows as the charity volunteers delivering the meals depart.

“These community actions are really impactful and they boost morale for our employees at a time when many are feeling a little nervous,” Barker said. “The overwhelming positive response from our community and our Daventry employees is motivating us all.”

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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