Cummins leader calls for continued innovation in all technologies to reach environmental goals

Cummins Vice Chairman Tony Satterthwaite at a speech before the pandemic. He addressed a Senate Committee Tuesday.
Cummins Vice Chairman Tony Satterthwaite at a speech before the pandemic. He addressed a Senate Committee Tuesday.

Innovation in both internal combustion and alternative technologies is the best way to achieve environmental benefits today and a carbon-neutral future, a Cummins leader told a U.S. Senate committee Tuesday.

Vice Chairman Tony Satterthwaite testified that advanced internal combustion engines can achieve immediate reductions in air pollutants and carbon emissions while the infrastructure and manufacturing scale develops for low-carbon technologies like battery and fuel cell electric powertrains.

“The future of power requires multi-faceted innovation,” Satterthwaite told a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, testifying virtually because of the pandemic. “Our customers need the right vehicles and equipment to do their work today and in the future.” 

ACHIEVING BENEFITS TODAY

With an eye on the future, Cummins has been making a significant investment in battery and fuel cell electric powertrains in recent years, holding its first Hydrogen Day in 2020 to showcase for nearly 2,000 analysts, media members and potential customers, the company’s progress with products using the promising low-carbon fuel.

But experts say the conversion to low-carbon technologies won’t happen overnight. It will take time, for example, to develop enough refueling and recharging stations for widespread adoption. Satterthwaite said there are environmental benefits that can be achieved today with existing technologies such as advanced diesel and natural gas engines as the infrastructure develops for low- and no-carbon powertrains.

Over the next decade, high efficiency internal combustion engines with mild hybridization and low-carbon fuels can reduce both carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas (GHG), and criteria pollutants while providing customers with performance, reliability, and affordability.

Advanced internal combustion engines would enable the country to make significant progress on issues like climate change as the necessary government investment ramps up to achieve widespread adoption of low- and no-carbon platforms, Satterthwaite said.

THE PATH TO ZERO  

The executive testified that reaching a zero emission future will require government leadership in addition to commitment from manufacturers like Cummins.

“This is critical to success on our path to zero emissions,” Satterthwaite testified. “If the U.S. is to achieve this path to zero in a way that is cost effective, timely and promotes U.S. jobs and manufacturing, significant public support is needed from DOE (the Department of Energy), our national labs and other research institutions to innovate in infrastructure, development and deployment.”

Satterthwaite made a special pitch to the committee for renewable hydrogen during his testimony, maintaining it should be part of the government’s plans moving forward.

“Cummins has invested significantly in the entire hydrogen value chain because it has shown to be one of the most effective enabling technologies for broad and deep decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors where Cummins’ products operate,” he said. “Europe and East Asia have an early lead in this space, having committed hundreds of billions of dollars respectively to promote decarbonized hydrogen production and fuel cell equipment deployment.”
 
For example, hydrogen fuel cells are seen as generating the kind of energy necessary to power passenger trains, so rail systems wouldn’t have to string electric wire overhead for long distances to get the low-carbon benefits of electrification.

LOOKING AHEAD

Satterthwaite said additional public-private partnerships such as the SuperTruck initiative, which has led to significant advances in fuel efficiency for diesel engines, could be a cost-effective way to encourage development of the new technologies critical to addressing climate change.

“A new SuperTruck III program will build upon these improvements with the focus on CO2-reducing technologies such as efficiency improvements, low carbon fuels, hybridization, battery electrification and fuel cell optimization for entire fleets,” Satterthwaite said in his testimony.

The Cummins executive concluded by encouraging the committee to avoid choosing a single technology as the best way to move forward.

"Enacting policies that promote the power of choice for every market will help ensure that this country and every community within it has the proven technology necessary to serve the economy while meeting air quality and climate goals on the path to net-zero emissions," he said.

 

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]

 

Cummins honored for enlightened leadership on global challenges

A Cummins employee works at the company’s Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Technology Campus in Mississauga, Ontario (Canada).
A Cummins employee works at the company’s Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Technology Campus in Mississauga, Ontario (Canada).

Cummins Inc. has been recognized for creating foundations for stable growth, combining business sense with the imperative to address the planet’s well-being.

The Frost & Sullivan Institute’s Enlightened Leadership Award Best Practices Recognition honors companies adopting business practices to “innovate to zero,” addressing global priorities like climate change while securing sustainable growth.

The institute has honored more than 30 companies and counting with the recognition in 2021, including DuPont, FedEx, the Ford Motor Co. and IBM.

“Frost & Sullivan strictly reserves this recognition to companies at the innovation to zero and growth forefront in their respective industries,” said David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan and the Frost & Sullivan Institute. “These companies demonstrate proactivity in utilizing business practices to ‘innovate to zero’ and address global priorities while securing sustainable growth.”

For more than six decades Frost & Sullivan has been helping investors, corporate leaders and government officials navigate economic change, disruptive technologies and more to achieve success. The Frost & Sullivan Institute is the non-profit organization extension of the company dedicated to the use of business practices to address global priorities. 

Innovating to zero was a phrase first coined by Microsoft Co-founder and Philanthropist Bill Gates to describe the process necessary to reach his vision of a world with zero carbon emissions, zero inequalities, zero crime, zero accidents and carbon-neutral cities. He popularized the phrase during a 2014 TED talk that has generated more than 3 million views on YouTube.

For the Enlightened Growth Leadership Award, Frost & Sullivan analysts independently evaluate companies in terms of one or more global priorities that form the institute’s seven pillars: the environment, education, infrastructure, healthcare, security, human rights, and economics.

The analysts cited a range of Cummins' initiatives, including the company’s effort to develop low-carbon battery and fuel cell electric power platforms while improving Cummins' traditional power technologies; the company's use of wind and solar power, and  Cummins' community engagement initiatives such as Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity.

“Climate change and environmental degradation are among the greatest challenges faced by governments and companies,” the institute said in announcing the award. “Cummins Inc. is a leader in empowering an emission-free future through its renewable energy efforts. Additionally, its outstanding reputation has also allowed the company to secure strategic partnerships with leading companies to deliver innovative solutions set to transform the market.”

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger has called growing the economy while using fewer of the world’s resources the challenge of our time. He says companies figuring out how to accomplish both will be the most successful moving forward.
 

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]

 

Cummins celebrates 2020 reductions in water, waste, energy use and GHGs

The new Water Hub at Cummins' plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (U.S.), saves millions of gallons of water.
The new Water Hub at Cummins' plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (U.S.), saves millions of gallons of water.

Cummins’ 2020 environmental sustainability goals led to significant reductions in water use, waste production and energy use, as well as critical savings in greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The findings included in the company’s recently released 2020 Sustainability Progress Report demonstrate that setting challenging goals, sharing them publicly and reporting on the company’s progress can drive important environmental benefits.

Even when the company fell short of a goal, it made meaningful progress. For example, while Cummins didn’t achieve its goal of a companywide 95% recycling rate, it nevertheless set a record rate of 93%.

“I remember when we created the 2020 plan, expanding into a wide range of public goals across greenhouse gases, water and waste,” said Brian Mormino, Executive Director of Technical & Environmental Systems at Cummins. “It is amazing to now reflect on how we used our data and experience – combined with our passion and commitment – to produce really powerful results.”

Cummins 2020 Goals
Here's a look at the progress Cummins made on its 2020 environmental goals. The goals were announced in 2014.

WATER GAINS LEAD THE WAY

The gains on reducing water use were especially impressive from the goals announced in 2014. The company first reached its goal of a 50% reduction in water use intensity (water use adjusted by hours work) in 2018, then surpassed that goal the following two years, ending 2020 with a 53% reduction compared to Cummins' baseline year of 2010. 

The company reduced its overall water consumption to 772 million gallons in 2020, a nearly 14% drop from 2019 and a 20% reduction from 2017 when Cummins used 964 million gallons. Much of the company's water reductions were achieved through low- and no-cost efforts, notably fixing leaks and optimizing processes. Cummins' conservation efforts also involved some capital projects, primarily equipment efficiency upgrades and other high-impact projects.

Cummins' water neutrality efforts also yielded success. The company validated 16 sites as achieving Cummins' standard for water neutrality in 2020, surpassing the company's goal of 15. In many instances, these locations offset their water use with community improvements to either conserve water or make new water sources available.

The company will build on those community improvements in the Cummins Water Works program announced recently. The $8 million initiative will invest and engage in sustainable, large-scale, high impact projects. 

CRITICAL ENERGY AND GHG REDUCTIONS

Cummins also made significant progress on the company’s effort to reduce both the GHGs it produces and those the company’s products produce in use.

The company, for example, surpassed for a third consecutive year its goal to partner with customers to improve the efficiency of Cummins’ products in use to reach an annual run-rate reduction of 3.5 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide (CO2). The company first achieved its products in-use goal in 2018 when it recorded a 4.3 MMT reduction in CO2, then increased that to a 4.6 MMT reduction in 2019 and a 4.9 MMT reduction in 2020. 

And none of this includes the groundbreaking work Cummins is doing in low-carbon battery-electric and fuel cell electric technologies, or the electrolyzers critical to producing low-carbon green hydrogen.

Cummins also achieved its goal of increasing the company’s use of renewable power. In addition to its support of a wind farm expansion in northwest Indiana, Cummins is up to 45 sites that have systems to collect solar power. The wind farm expansion offsets nearly all of the electricity the company uses from traditional sources at its Indiana facilities in the United States.

While Cummins just missed its goal of achieving a 32% energy intensity reduction (absolute energy use adjusted by hours worked) from company facilities, it did reach a 27% intensity reduction. The pandemic introduced complications to achieving the goal, significantly reducing hours worked. However, absolute energy use fell 10% in 2020, which translates into a GHG savings..

WASTE REDUCTION EFFORTS ADVANCE

Cummins exceeded the company’s 2020 goal for sites achieving Cummins’ standard for Zero Disposal status. Thirty-five sites achieved the standard by the end of year, five more than the company’s goal of 30 sites. The standard is extremely challenging, only allowing incineration if it generates more energy than it takes to maintain combustion.

The company’s waste reduction efforts did benefit from the facility closings caused by the pandemic in 2020. Generated waste fell by 15.8% last year, or a little more than 78 million pounds.

That, however, was at least partially offset by an increase in waste streams from disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) to guard against the spread of COVID-19 in open Cummins facilities. Following local regulations for the safe disposal of PPEs was a top priority.

As for the 95% recycling rate goal, the company knew it was aggressive when it was announced in 2014. The challenge grew as Cummins absorbed or acquired additional sites and found it difficult to find places to recycle in some parts of the world. Finally, the amount of relatively easy material to recycle such as corrugated paper and wood dwindled as the company made greater use of returnable and re-useable packaging. And yet Cummins missed its overall goal by just two percentage points.

What's next? the company hopes to build on the success of its 2020 goals by achieving the 2030 goals established in PLANET 2050, Cummins' environmental sustainability strategy.

LEARN MORE

To learn more, check out the Environment section starting on page 18 of the Cummins 2020 Sustainability Progress Report.

 

 


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]

 

Cummins engaging employees across company to achieve climate goals

The PLANET 2050 Influencer program seeks to engage employees in Cummins' environmental sustainability efforts.
The PLANET 2050 Influencer program seeks to engage employees in Cummins' environmental sustainability efforts.

Cummins is working to engage employees in both the company’s 2030 goals to further reduce Cummins’ environmental impact and the company’s aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The PLANET 2050 Influencer initiative aims to create employee advocates who understand how Cummins' environmental sustainability strategy will impact the company and society as a whole as the world tackles climate and other critical environmental issues.

“We can’t meet our 2030 goals or Cummins’ 2050 aspirations without engaged employees,” said Karen Cecil, the company’s Director of Environmental Sustainability. “We want employees to know they are empowered to make change and that they have the knowledge and permission to act.” 

A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY

The influencer program was unveiled during the company’s annual June Environmental Month, which Cummins started in 2014 when it launched its first comprehensive environmental goals timed to 2020. The company recently wrapped up work on those goals, achieving significant reductions in the water and energy Cummins uses and the waste it produces.

The company also partnered with customers to achieve substantial reductions in the carbon dioxide produced by Cummins’ products in use.

The company is now turning its attention to the targets established in the Cummins PLANET 2050 environmental sustainability strategy. PLANET 2050 was unveiled in late 2019 as attention began building on the world’s climate issues.

The company believes it has a unique opportunity to make a difference on the climate because of Cummins’ global reach and the number of markets its products serve.

Cummins technology powers on-highway freight transportation, construction machinery, agricultural equipment as well as the marine and rail industries and the generators that provide backup power to hospitals and data centers. The company’s sustainability strategy includes goals timed to 2030 that are aligned with the Paris Agreement on climate change and Cummins’ aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2050. 

CULTURE IS CRITICAL

More than 120 employees have expressed interest in the influencer program and nearly 50 attended the first influencer orientation meeting. Participants are asked to attend meetings to learn more about PLANET 2050, spread awareness about the strategy and participate in at least one engagement activity per quarter. 

An employee works at the Cummins Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Technology campus in Mississauga, Ontario (Canada), a center for the company’s fuel cell and hydrogen production, research and development initiatives.
Want to learn more about sustainability at Cummins? Check out the company's recently posted 2020 Sustainability Progress Report.

“It gives environmentally conscious employees like you, like me, a platform to spread awareness and to put our passion to action,” said Sandy Jeyaseelan, a Senior Product Engineer for the company’s New & ReCon Parts group. Jeyaseelan  is participating in the program.

Cecil says developing the right culture will be critical to the success of PLANET 2050. While the company has long been a proponent of sustainability, producing a sustainability report since 2003, the goals in the strategy will require a level of employee engagement and support unlike any the company has previously pursued. The 2030 goals include:

 

  • Reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from facilities and operations by 50%.
  • Reducing scope 3 absolute lifetime GHG emissions (including those that the company does and does not own or control) from newly sold products by 25%.
  • Partnering with customers to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions in the field by 55 million metric tons.

The new goals will literally impact everyone at Cummins. For example, they call for eliminating single-use plastics in company dining facilities and at employee events.

“PLANET 2050 touches more functions and employees than ever,” said Brian Mormino, Executive Director of Technical Environmental Systems. “It is important for us to keep employees informed, engaged and empowered about the strategy, the goals and what we’re doing to meet them.”

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]

 

Pandemic doesn’t stop Cummins from making progress on key ESG priorities

Employees at the Rocky Mount Engine Plant in North Carolina (U.S.) officially launch the plant's Water Hub in 2020. It uses a number of technologies including hydroponics to return millions of gallons of water to the plant for non-potable use.
Employees at the Rocky Mount Engine Plant in North Carolina (U.S.) officially launch the plant's Water Hub in 2020. It uses a number of technologies including hydroponics to return millions of gallons of water to the plant for non-potable use.

Cummins was able to make progress on its environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s new 2020 Sustainability Progress Report shows.

The report includes a number of company firsts and records in 2020, including a record number of global patents, a record recycling rate, a record low health and safety Incidence Rate, the first virtual Hydrogen Day and the company’s key role in the first hydrogen-powered passenger train. While COVID-19 left an indelible mark on the company, it did not define Cummins in 2020.

The pandemic triggered its own set of company records and firsts, including a record drop in revenues followed shortly by a record increase in orders as Cummins' customers performed essential tasks such as the transportation of food and medicine. But it did not keep the company from addressing a host of key sustainability issues, including climate change, the environment, diversity and racial equity, cybersecurity and innovation.

“I am proud of what we achieved in 2020 and am optimistic about the opportunities ahead to continue powering a more prosperous world,” Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said looking back on 2020 in the introduction to the report.

When COVID-19 began spreading early in 2020 and communities began shutting down, even the healthiest companies were severely impacted. The pandemic showed, once again, that companies are only as strong as the communities around them.

Here’s a quick look at what Cummins did in 2020 to build a more prosperous world:

ENVIRONMENT

Cummins' 2020 environmental sustainability goals spurred many achievements outlined in the new report, including a record company recycling rate of 93% (page 24 of the report) and a water intensity reduction (water use adjusted by hours worked) of 53% compared to Cummins’ 2010 baseline year (page 22 of the report). The company's goal was a 50% reduction. Cummins also exceeded its 2020 goal for sites achieving company standards for water neutrality and zero disposal.

The company partnered with customers to far exceed Cummins’ goal for reducing the production of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, by its products in use (see page 25 of the report). That goes directly to the world’s mission to address climate change. But Cummins’ progress didn’t stop there.

On the product side, the report covers the important role Cummins’ New Power business segment is playing not just in the development of low- and no-carbon power platforms but also the technology needed to increase the world’s supply of green hydrogen (page 57). Cummins is also working to improve its diesel and natural gas engines with climate in mind. Finally, the report outlines the company’s vision for an innovation focused path to carbon neutrality (page 61).

SOCIAL

Cummins continued making progress on the social challenges it believes are critical to creating more prosperous communities. The gender equality law and policy changes resulting from Cummins Powers Women and its partners now impact the lives of 17 million women and girls (page 35). Cummins TEC: Technical Education for Communities has more than 1,700 graduates as of 2020 in its bid to transform the lives of disadvantaged youth through employable skills to obtain good jobs (page 34).

In the United States, the company launched Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity in 2020, a community initiative focused on dismantling institutional racism (page 36). Cummins pledged to take a leadership role on the topic both in and out of the company and started reporting on the racial and ethnic makeup of its own U.S. workforce to be as transparent as possible (page 42).

Finally, the company issued a record $22 million in grants to communities, including $2.7 million in emergency grants to partners who could quickly provide key services in the face of the pandemic (page 33).

GOVERNANCE

In governance, the report details how the Cummins Board of Directors demonstrated its commitment to diversity and inclusion, adding a fourth diverse member in 2020 and a fifth member in 2021 (page 47). The 13-member board also now has five women.

Meanwhile, the board and the company’s Executive Risk Council, consisting of top officers at Cummins, added climate change to the company’s list of enterprise risks that are actively managed (page 54). A new section on cybersecurity details the company’s multi-pronged effort to address the seemingly growing list of cyber threats (page 53). And the Ethics and Compliance function created a new website designed to make it easier for employees to learn about the company’s core policies (page 50).

All of these ESG efforts were largely in addition to the company’s incredible collaborative response to COVID-19 (page 63). Taken as a whole, the report shows it is very difficult to get between Cummins and its mission to build a more prosperous world. Not even a pandemic could do it.
 

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]

 

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