Technology choices to talent gaps, top of mind topics for rail industry executives

Transportation, banking and capital markets are three very different industries with one thing in common: high susceptibility to future disruption, according to Accenture1. Transportation services are specifically unique, as the industry is currently experiencing high levels of disruption in addition to high susceptibility for future disruption. 

The rail industry, a critical component of the transportation sector, is also in the midst of this disruption. Most popular topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data and connectivity have reflections within the rail industry. 

Transportation sector is already experiencing high levels of disruption and susceptible to more in the future

Rail industry executives and professionals are holding strong in the face of these changes, and are preparing their organizations for the future while also delivering continuity of today’s operations. 

In this article, a few top of mind topics for rail industry professionals are summarized with some practical insights around how to look into them. These aim to help you expand your perspective and gain additional insights in addressing them. Let’s look at the topics that occupy the minds of rail industry professionals.

No. 1: Finding talent and building the next generation workforce is not just a recruiting challenge

“Talent is a multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield will be,” said Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and leadership consultant. The same logic applies within the rail industry too, and the revolutionary technologies such as AI, big data and connectivity rely on a talented workforce to make the most of them.

Rail industry executives are facing a two-folded challenge in building the workforce of the future. 

First comes the volume of hiring needed in the near future, driven by the aging workforce and increasing need for transportation. It is estimated that 80,000 employees need to be hired by the rail industry in the U.S. within the next few years, according to Thomas Insights

On the other side, the skills needed in this new-generation workforce are different too. The rail industry is adopting technologies ranging from IoT and automation to AI, and this creates the need for a workforce that is more fluent in big data analytics, software and telematics. 

Rail executives that see this as an isolated recruiting challenge might struggle. To avoid this struggle, rail executives can broaden up the challenge and focus on building a comprehensive value proposition for their organizations. This includes a corporate culture and package of benefits tailored to hire the new generation workforce. 

No. 2: The future beyond precision-scheduled railroading (PSR) focuses on growth 

The original idea behind PSR was to improve cargo efficiency and reduce wait times. Over the last decade, many rail operators deployed a version of PSR and have successfully reduced their low-volume lanes and decreased locomotives and freight cars in use. Because of these, most rail executives agree on PSR’s favorable impact on improving railroads’ operational efficiency. 

Rail Freight traffic
Railroads have been improving their operating ratios, but lack increased freight traffic

Meanwhile, critiques of PSR often highlight its lack of a systematic plan to bring growth to railroad operations. The expectation was that market share growth would be fueled by lower customer pricing, which is enabled through operational efficiencies. The industry had mixed results on this expectation. 

Railroad executives that combine PSR with a solid growth plan will experience lower operating ratios, an increasing revenue and market shares. Building an in-depth understanding of shippers’ needs and putting together fit-for-market solutions will be the key to delivering this growth plan. 

No. 3: Making the right technology choices is a function of what success looks like for your business

Autonomous trains, unmanned aerial vehicles (AKA drones), automated inspection equipment, alternative energy systems and remote monitoring. The list goes on and on when it comes to the new technologies the rail industry is experimenting with. 

It is great news for the rail industry to have these options available, but it also introduces the challenge of making the right technology decisions. 

One-way rail executives can address this challenge is to step out of immediate technology decisions and focus on drivers of success for their businesses. While each company is unique, success for a rail industry company sits on four pillars: safety, profitability, reliability and sustainability. Customers, employees, investors and communities reward the rail companies based on these four aspects. 

Rail industry professionals can make the right technology choices by laying out technology decisions with respect to these success pillars. This exercise could deliver clarity on both the choices needed now and on the future roadmap of technologies. 

The rail industry is as dynamic as it has ever been; and the rail industry professionals that embrace these changes will help their businesses emerge stronger from this wave of disruptions. Moreover, rail industry professionals are not alone in this journey and can collaborate with partners, such as Cummins Inc., that have a strong track record of bringing innovations and customer-centric solutions to markets.

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1 Accenture. (2019). Breaking Through Disruption. [Pdf file]. Retrieved from 

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Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Gas expertise taken to extremes in southern Myanmar

Eight Cummins QSV91G lean burn gas generator sets provide continuous gas power to the city and region of Dawei in southern Myanmar.
Eight Cummins QSV91G lean burn gas generator sets provide continuous gas power to the city and region of Dawei in southern Myanmar.


In Dawei City and the surrounding region, a new 16MW power plant is equipping the residents, visitors and businesses of this growing trade hub and tourism destination of southern Myanmar with reliable, Always On power from Cummins.

Faced with inadequate grid infrastructure, the government awarded Petro & Trans power company the project, which selected Cummins DKSH Myanmar (CDM), Cummins local distributor partner, to support with the development and execution of this power project. Despite the tight project schedules and short lead times, CDM was able to supply eight Cummins 2000kW QSV91G lean burn gas generators within a very short timeframe as opposed to other competing generator manufacturers, which was one of the reasons CDM was selected for this project. In addition, CDM provided ongoing support throughout the duration of the project from the equipment deployment up until the installation phase, which was another critical customer requirement.

The QSV91G generators’ proven reliability, coupled with the best-in-class load acceptance and high electrical efficiency, were some of the key reasons for choosing the QSV91G series to cover the power plant’s energy requirements.

Read the case study on

Adam Sidders Marketing Communications Leader Power Systems

Adam Sidders

Adam Sidders is the Marketing Communications Leader for the Power Systems Business Unit of Cummins Inc. Prior to joining Cummins in 2012 Adam worked in Financial Services for Europe’s largest independently owned insurer as their Marketing and Communications Manager. [email protected]

Cummins OEM provides outstanding service for more than 20 years

Southeastern Specialty Vehicles, a Cummins Commercial Mobile OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), understands the impact that essential workers can make during a pandemic. Based in North Carolina (USA), they have provided quality service to emergency care providers for over 20 years. 


Southeastern Specialty Vehicles started in 1996 as a chassis manufacturing company for ambulances and rescue vehicles. Not long after, the manufacturing company transitioned from up fitting trailers to building the whole vehicle. Today, they build around 100 emergency, rescue and law enforcement vehicles each year. 

Since their beginnings, Southeastern Specialty Vehicles has relied on Cummins as their power provider. The Onan QG 7500 and the Onan QG 4000 are the generators that they use for their commercial mobile applications. “The Onan system is what we utilize for our products due to its robust system,” said Tony Tyler, Vice President, Specialty Vehicles. “I personally like the product since I have been involved in manufacturing” 

Click here to learn more about Southeastern Specialty Vehicles.

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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 Home Generator Prevents Costly Damage During Hurricane Sally

Sales and Service generator delivery

The unprecedented 2020 hurricane season has battered the southern and eastern edges of the United States week after week. Although many beach towns have plans in place to keep damage to a minimum, sometimes mother nature strikes harder than anticipated. 

The Florida panhandle experienced this recently when Hurricane Sally stalled over the Pensacola area for nearly 12 hours. Locals had been told to prepare for extreme winds, but when the storm hit it brought widespread damage, major power outages and over two feet of rain. While most residents scrambled to keep the flooding waters out, Macy Summers and his wife relied on their Cummins generator to protect their Florida home. 

The Summers lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for most of their lives until retirement drew them to warmer places. Having a seasonal residence in Florida for many years, they transitioned permanently to Pensacola, FL (USA) six years ago. With unsettling memories from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, they made it a priority to invest in backup power for their home when they moved south. 

An engineer by trade, Macy spent 18 months researching which power solution would prove worthy of protecting their home during major storms. Familiar with the brand, Summers knew that if he went with a Cummins generator he would be getting a quality product. But in addition to the engine, it was also important to consider the service a manufacturer could provide. The ability for a local dealer to support his purchase and the availability of parts in his area were other priorities. 

He said, “Having the Cummins Onan name and knowledge of the long history of making really high quality smaller gensets was important to me. This company knows what they’re talking about with engines and they are going to stand behind the product.”

Narrowly escaping the grasp of Hurricane Sally, the Summers’ natural gas home generator was installed just a few months prior to the storm. When the heavy wind and rain arrived, their standby power was the only thing protecting them from costly water damage. 

The Summers have a pool in their backyard that retained the mass amounts of water produced by Hurricane Sally. Aware of the risk, Macy had purchased pumps to help drain the pool area to keep it from overflowing. During the 12-hour storm, the Summers’ Cummins home generator powered all three electric pumps that were working overtime to ensure their residence stayed dry. 

At first, their generator turned on intermittently but then it came on to stay. The unit ran for 87.5 hours until power was restored. Macy even said, “One evening we invited our powerless neighbors over for a dinner and a little music making and for a few hours, life was normal!”

Unfortunately, hurricane season and mother nature run on their own time. Whether your home is protected or not, they may drop by unannounced. The good news is that by investing in a Cummins home generator you can prepare for a storm with peace of mind. From the Summers’ perspective, you would rather be safe than sorry. 

Three weeks after the storm, Macy concluded, “If we didn’t have Cummins power, our house would have flooded, and we would not be in our home right now… I am a Cummins customer for life thanks to their superb service and quality of product.”

Interested in a Cummins generator to protect your home? Get a free in-home assessment now. 

Katie Yoder - Cummins Inc.

Katie Yoder

Katie Yoder is a Marketing Communications Specialist. New to Cummins in 2018, Katie joined the marketing operations team where she supports trade show initiatives in North America. As a University of Wisconsin alumna, Katie enjoys watching Badger sports in her free time.

National Preparedness Month: Be ready for a busy hurricane season

tropical storm

This year has been far from normal, but regardless of a global pandemic hurricane season still comes around every year. The 2020 Atlantic Basin hurricane season is already off to a historically eventful start and meteorologists are expecting the tropics to remain active.

As of the August forecast, Meteorologists at NOAA and Colorado State University are now predicting 19-25 named storms in the Atlantic Basin for the year. If this holds true, all the alphabetical tropical storm and hurricane names will be used in 2020. This means the Greek alphabet will have to be will be tapped into like it was back in 2005.  

The peak of the Atlantic Basin hurricane season is in mid-September. As a result, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has designated this month as National Preparedness Month (NPM).

The NPM 2020 theme is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.” FEMA’s website makes it easy to prepare and suggests different preparedness activities to focus on for each week of September. 

September 1-5: Make a plan

  • Know your natural disaster risk
  • Have an out-of-town contact
  • Identify a family meeting place if everyone gets separated
  • Ask a neighbor to check on your pets if a disaster strikes when you are not home
  • Know your area’s evacuation routes and local disaster shelter locations

September 6-12: Build a kit

  • Assemble a disaster prep kit, including items specifically selected for each member of your family (children, seniors, special needs, pets)
  • Develop a “necessities” list that includes items you and your family cannot live without
  • Have at least a two-week supply of bottled water, non-perishable food and prescription medications
  • Include items like masks, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap and wipes that are now especially necessary due to COVID-19
  • Have important supplies on hand — first aid kit, flashlights, extra batteries, NOAA weather radio, blanket, cash (single dollar bills) and cell phone charger (at a minimum)
  • Keep a disaster kit at home, at work and in your vehicle

September 13-19: Prepare for disasters

  • Having a standby generator means all the power in your home can be restored automatically without gas, even when you’re not there. If you have back-up power generation, your home can be your family’s central meeting place. If you don’t have backup power, make sure your family agrees on a safe place to meet in the event that you are separated.
  • Store important documents in a metal strongbox to protect them from exposure. Keep them on a flash drive as well, just in case.
  • Survey property areas for things that might need repair. Check loose or hanging shingles, signs or shutters, walkways, storage spaces and even overgrown vegetation and dead trees. Check your roof for leaks. Clean out gutters and chimneys.
  • Know if you live in a flood zone. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding and a new flood insurance policy has a 30-day wait period until it activates. Remember, even if you do not live in a designated flood zone: it can still flood!

September 20-26: Teach youth about preparedness

  • Make sure you and your children understand the weather risks in your area
  • Encourage teachers to discuss disaster preparedness at school 
  • Make learning about disasters fun through books, games and other online resources 

Don't suffer through another power outage

In addition to educating yourself about hurricane preparedness, you can take the extra step to protect your residence with a Cummins home generator. Standby power can keep your life essentials operating in the event of a major outage and provide you with peace of mind. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Inquire about a Cummins home generator today and find a certified Cummins dealer near you. 

Meteorologist Cheryl Nelson
Cummins Weather & Preparedness Advisor
Follow Cheryl on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Cheryl Nelson, Certified Broadcast Meteorologist

Cheryl Nelson

Cheryl Nelson is an Emmy-nominated and AP award-winning Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, TV Host, FEMA-Certified Instructor and Weather and Preparedness Advisor for Cummins. You can visit Cheryl’s website at and follow her on Twitter and Facebook @CherylNelsonTV. 

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