How to reap the benefits of a lightweight engine


Power-to-weight equals more than just productivity

Operating vocational trucks is all about getting the job done as reliably, quickly and productively as possible. Nailing the power-to-weight ratio on the sweet spot can have a major impact on not just your equipment’s productivity but its longevity and your bottom line as well. There are a number of factors that come into play when spec’ing a vocational vehicle that help ensure that performance capability matches the duty cycle and jobsite conditions. It starts with choosing an engine that has the ideal power-to-weight ratio and pairing it with the correct transmission and tires, based on the most demanding aspects of its operating usage. 

Weighing In 

Regardless of whether you are spec’ing a dump, refuse truck, mixer or bulk hauler, there are substantial advantages to using a lighter-weight engine – provided it has sufficient power. In applications which typically gross out, a lighter weight engine gives you the opportunity to carry more payload (equal to the weight savings). Less weight on the front axle also reduces stress and wear over time, reducing maintenance costs. The weight savings/increased payload can be as much as 630 lbs. per trip in a vehicle, when switching from a Cummins ISX12 to a 2021 X12™. 

Productivity Pays 

Having the right spec with a lighter engine pays big dividends, regardless of the business you are in or the type of vocational vehicles in your fleet. For instance: 

Refuse – A lighter engine with the proper spec can accelerate faster between stops and carry more waste, potentially resulting in greater coverage per vehicle on its daily routes. Depending on the size of the municipality being served, it could reduce both the number of vehicles and manpower needed for total coverage. It can also save money at landfills where there is a per-vehicle charge in addition to the cost of the waste being dumped. 

Mixers – The key is to spec the vehicle at maximum load, making sure that it adheres to local load limits for highways, bridges and roadways throughout the area. Some mixers have three drive axles, to help provide the traction needed to negotiate muddy, difficult worksites with steep inclines. 

Dump Trucks – Similar to mixers, construction dumps can have highly variable load weights and taxing work environments. For increased equipment longevity, operators should be trained in proper loading (between the axles with the initial loading, moving over the axles at the end). 

Bulk Haulers – Tractor trailers are a different configuration and have greater flexibility with regards to load distribution. The fifth wheel can be shifted forward to put more weight on the drive axle, or back to put greater load on the rear axles. When spec’ing the tractor, you can often choose a smaller displacement engine (such as a 12-liter rather than a 13-liter), which will allow for a shorter frame rail and wheelbase measured as BBC. The combined weight savings can be as much as 1,000 lbs. in the front end, and an equivalent increase in payload while staying under the 80,000-lb GVW limit. (The typical load pattern for a tractor trailer is 12K steer axle, 34K tandem axle and 34K trailer). 

Additional Considerations

When spec’ing a vocational vehicle, it is critical to take into consideration seasonal additions like a snowplow attachment, pumps, or any feature that requires an extended front bumper or puts extra weight on the drive axle. When spec’ing an engine for weight savings, it is critical to choose a horsepower/torque rating that meets the highest regular power demand in your duty cycle, and to pair it with an appropriate transmission, ensuring that you get the highest productivity, exceptional reliability and longevity plus driver-pleasing performance. All at a reduced powertrain weight. Cummins PowerSpec can guide you through the entire process

Hard Working Engines for The Hardest Working Trucks 

From landscaper’s dump trucks to bulk transport trailers, Cummins engines offer exceptional productivity and the highest power-to-weight ratios in the industry. All three of these engines are offered in natural gas-fueled versions as well as the industry-leading diesels that are listed below. For assistance choosing the right specification for your operation, contact your local dealer or visit our dealer locator page to find one

Cummins B6.7 (200-360 hp) – Covers more Class 6-7 truck power requirements than any other diesel on market. 

Cummins L9 (260-380 hp) – The highest power density in its class plus replaceable wet cylinder liners for ease of overhaul and extended lifespan. 

Cummins X12 (350-500 hp) – The highest power-to-weight ratio of any 10- to 16-liter diesel engine, period.

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Leslie Nix

Leslie Nix is a Senior Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc. Leslie joined the Company in 2011 as a college hire after graduating with her Bachelors of Arts in Journalism from Indiana University.

Right first-time engine testing for long-term sustainability

employees at test cell

Like every invention, Cummins Inc. engines undergo rigorous testing to determine the viability of a new component, design or technology. With test cells installed in 2015, Seymour Engine Plant’s engine research and development capability and capacity significantly increased. Now, the plant’s sustainability leaders are on a mission to reduce test cell’s fuel emissions.

Celebrating the expansion of Seymour Engine Plant and Technical Center

In 2015, Cummins celebrated the expansion of the Seymour Engine Plant and Technical Center. The expansion included installing an additional 12 test cells dedicated to engine research and development for multiple industries from mining and rail to marine and power generation, as well as lending to the improvement of product sustainability. Almost 10 years later, the sustainability team is seeking to achieve what they call a “right first-time test” of an engine to reduce emissions.

What is a test cell and how do you achieve a “right first-time test”?

Test cells allow engineers and technicians to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency and durability of a new component, engine design or alterations to a Cummins engine for a buyer, fleet operator or company. 

To the untrained eye, it looks as if the engine is strapped into an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap, with seemingly endless amounts of wires sprouting from different components to test the engines durability, climate tolerance, endurance, emissions measurements and performance. You can imagine the amount of time it takes for engineers to produce a new idea for an engine that matches the criteria they attempt to integrate, let alone the time it takes to run the engine during a test that may or may not prove successful.

With countless measurement channels tracking a multitude of criteria, the likelihood of getting back a perfect read on all measures for the first time is not always 100%; however, that is exactly what the Seymour Engine Plant aims to achieve.

The impact of running multiple tests

If a test needs to be re-run, that also means that fuel needs to be burned twice. On average, the Seymour Technical Center runs their 18 test cells 750 to 2,000 hours a month, equating to 43,000 to 115,000 gallons of diesel fuel each month. 

Ensuring tests are run right the first time not only makes operational sense and ensures quality data, but it also reduces fuel consumption and thus greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), a Planet 2050 goal many Cummins plants like Seymour Engine Plant are striving to achieve. 

The engineers and technicians at the technical center have implemented several controls to ensure a successful test, including detailed Test Planning meetings, Test Readiness Verification for critical parameters and an automated Constant Data Verification throughout the test. If any parameters are outside of the expected tolerance, the test technician is notified, and the test may be shut down.

Seymour’s right first-time testing rate today

Since beginning to track re-runs, the Seymour Technical Center has averaged a right first-time rate of 96-98%. Ultimately, the plant and sustainability leaders hope to decrease the re-run percentage to 1% or less. To achieve this, a Data Quality Council meets on a weekly basis to review test results, investigate any re-runs over four hours, and implement effective corrective actions.

Working proactively to reduce fuel consumption and gain greater sustainability

In addition to reducing fuel consumption through right first-time testing, the engineers at the Seymour Technical Center are working on innovative solutions to reduce the need for testing in the first place. 

Tests are combined where possible, so rather than running separate tests for different engine systems, these tests can be combined. There are also teams working on engine simulations and fuel performance rigs that run off a calibration fluid rather than by burning fuel.

Converting testing power into electricity with Regenerative Dynamometers

When testing is required, the plant also has two 5 MW Regenerative Dynamometers (Regen Dynos) that can be used to convert the power generated from the test into useful electrical energy. In fact, when both Regen Dynos are operating, the engine tests create enough electricity to power the entire Seymour Engine Plant and Technical Center. 

Since the Regen Dynos were installed in 2015, they have generated over 34 million kilowatt hours – an innovative use of energy that would not have been possible without significant investment.

For customers who seek to not only test a new design concept but also reduce their carbon footprint, test cells have played a key role in the research of new engine technology. As manufacturing plants test more new innovations, the greater the need is to refine these tests for reduced emissions and cleaner manufacturing.

As companies like Cummins transition towards alternative fuel types like hydrogen, natural gas and electric for their products in the near future, the need for internal combustion engines is critical to support existing businesses, customers and the economy. For the Seymour Engine Plant team, refining and improving emissions from current products through engine testing will remain essential to helping society through the industry’s transition.   

Learn more about key sustainability practices shaping Cummins engine plants across the United States.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Hydrogen engines and long-haul trucking

semi truck driving through forest

Hydrogen use in the transportation sector initially focused on hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV's). More recently, however, hydrogen vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) are increasingly receiving attention, especially among medium and heavy-duty trucking applications. But why?

Hydrogen engines offer a zero-carbon pathway using the same hydrogen fuel as FCEV's. The difference is that ICE is a familiar technology for vehicle manufacturers, fleet operators and drivers and offers a lower upfront cost.

Cummins hydrogen engine announcements

Cummins Inc. has announced the development of two hydrogen-fueled engines, specifically designed for the commercial vehicle and equipment markets. The X15H engine made its debut at ACT Expo in May 2023, while the B6.7H engine was displayed at the IAA Transportation exhibition in 2022. Both these engines were shown in concept trucks.

Hydrogen engine technology targets "hard-to-electrify" applications with:

  • Demanding duty cycles
  • High asset utilization 
  • High route diversity
  • Challenging environmental conditions

An engine-based powertrain has proven to be very robust in these extreme and diverse conditions. This technology also doesn’t stress the grid, making it easier to adopt in specific applications.

Hydrogen engines on the highway

Let's look at a more specific application, long-haul trucking – the lifeblood of our economy. While a FCEV could be the long-term solution to reaching zero emissions in the long-haul heavy-duty truck market, a hydrogen engine provides a complimentary solution for decarbonization.

On the surface, a hydrogen-powered truck is very similar to a natural gas-powered truck. The main differences between the two are the engine requirements, specifically the need for hardware and software to run on pure hydrogen. Another significant difference is its fuel storage system.

While natural gas-powered vehicles use Type 4 carbon fiber fuel tanks, they primarily store natural gas at 250bar of pressure. A hydrogen engine-powered vehicle will require different Type 4 carbon fiber fuel tanks to keep the fuel at 700bar. It's important to note that 700bar is not an industry-standard storage pressure. Cummins sees demand for both 350bar and 700bar systems, but a 700bar storage pressure enables more onboard fuel storage and extended range. Cummins and NPROXX announced a joint venture to continue to innovate in the hydrogen storage technology space.

As many of us know, vehicle range is a critical attribute for end-users, especially with any new technology. The downside to this higher pressure is the additional windings of carbon fiber on the fuel tanks, which increases the weight and cost of the system versus a natural gas-powered vehicle. Regardless, Cummins’ heavy-duty hydrogen engine is expected to reach a range of 500+ miles in most fleet operations, making it easy for fleets to integrate.

Interestingly, these same fuel tanks are used in both hydrogen engine and hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles. A successful hydrogen engine launch will build scale and accelerate the fuel tanks' cost reductions, further enabling fuel cells in the future. 

The industry is also leveraging its experience with natural gas engines. As a more readily available technology, we can learn from its adoption and gather insights on fuel tanks, safety and facility requirements.

Hydrogen engines and fleet operators

Cummins is working closely with fleet operators on the commercial viability of hydrogen engine technology. After extensive conversations, these are some of the points that resonate the most with OEMs and end-users:

  • Hydrogen engines use zero-carbon fuel and can be at scale production mid-decade.
  • They harness mature engine and powertrain technology and an extensive installed manufacturing base, creating a low initial cost.
  • The technology is familiar. It's an engine. It looks like an engine, it sounds like an engine, it fits where an engine fits and technicians know how to service an engine.
  • The engine empowers fleet operators to move to hydrogen as a fuel early. They can gain hydrogen fuel experience with engines as they wait for fuel cells to become commercially viable on a large scale. 
  • Hydrogen engines and fuel cells share the same fueling infrastructure and on-board hydrogen storage. They also have commonalities with natural gas engine maintenance facilities. 

To sum it up, hydrogen engines' significant carbon reduction potential, coupled with the speed to market, low initial cost and familiarity of the technology, make hydrogen engines quite compelling, and fleets are taking notice. This belief is evident as recent announcements from companies like Tata Motors, Buhler Industries and Werner Enterprises have expressed interest in Cummins 15-liter hydrogen engine. If your fleet is interested in hydrogen engines, please contact your favorite OEM. Current engine availability is under discussion and is confidential.

In the hydrogen engine space, there are still some unknowns to address, such as future regulatory frameworks. However, Cummins and the transportation industry recognize the technology's potential on the path to zero emissions. We are working to provide the best low to zero carbon solutions to our customers and partners.

Jim Nebergall

Jim Nebergall

Jim Nebergall is General Manager of the Hydrogen Engine Business at Cummins Inc. and leads the company’s global efforts in commercializing hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. Hydrogen internal combustion engines are an important technology in the company’s accelerated path to decarbonization.    

Jim joined Cummins in 2002 and has held numerous leadership roles across the company. Most recently, Jim was the Director of Product Strategy and Management for the North American on-highway engine business. Jim is passionate about innovation and has dedicated his Cummins career to advancing technology that improves the environment. He pushed the boundaries of customer-focused innovation to position Cummins as the leading powertrain supplier of choice, managing a portfolio ranging from advanced diesel and natural gas to hybrid powertrains. 

Jim graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. In 2007, he completed his Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University.

Jamestown Engine Plant commits to reducing water waste through reverse osmosis

JEP Reverse Osmosis

The Cummins Inc. Jamestown Engine Plant (JEP) is not only setting the standard for manufacturing top of the line engines. It’s also setting the standard for plants across the country as it makes progress on Cummins’ goal of having a net positive impact on local communities.

Part of Cummins’ Planet 2050 environmental sustainability strategy and 2030 goals aim to reduce absolute water consumption in facilities and operations by 30%. Plants like Cummins Mid-Range Engine Plant (CEP) in Columbus, Indiana have removed their 6.7 turbo diesel engine coating process to help reduce their water consumption. For JEP sustainability leaders, however, they hope to achieve this goal by eliminate 100% of potable water for irrigation, reusing 100% of fire test water and reuse 100% of treated wastewater. Recycling and reusing wastewater through the science of reverse osmosis (RO) will be one of the largest initiatives in plant history.

What is reverse osmosis?

Reverse osmosis is a technology that separates pure water from the outgoing waste streams by removing contaminants. This process is a major water-saver at JEP. 
In 2022, the plant used 16M gallons of fresh water, a 59% reduction in total water usages since 2016. Of that 16M, approximately 8M gallons leaves as wastewater to the local sewer system for treatment. The RO system provides the potential to recycle or reuse 80% of that outgoing water, which goes a long way towards meeting Cummins’ 2030 water reduction goals.

“If we want 30% - 50% water reduction at the plant, the reverse osmosis is what gets us there,” says JEP Machine Director Dave Burlee.
This is no easy feat, as a significant amount of effort is required to maintain an RO system at its peak efficiency. Water is extracted and reused in the deionizer (DI) water process which removes the metals, calcium and magnesium that are normally in city water.

“City water has a lot of minerals that we need to take out. The beauty of the RO system is that it removes 98% of it,” Burlee says. “We don’t want minerals in our water because when it evaporates, it leaves behind all that as scale – and we don’t want that in our cooling systems.”

How was wastewater regenerated before reverse osmosis?

Before the introduction of RO, wastewater needed to be regenerated — a process that creates giant vats of hazardous acid and caustic waste that requires treatment — every three or four days. Now, the water is fed into the DI where it can run for weeks before it needs to be regenerated, reducing the consumption of the acids and caustics associated with regeneration.

Today, 80% of deionized water used in the factory process is from the RO system.
“Our plant is a case study to show that it is viable to implement green energy solutions or energy conservation measures in a workplace such as ours with heavy machine manufacturing,” says Burlee.

Beyond just being viable, Burlee points out that the more significant impact comes with long-term viability. With machinery purchases, the return on investment (ROI) is usually one to two years. The ROI for green energy solutions, however, is usually closer to eight to 10 years. 

“You’re in it for the long haul. You’ve got to play the long game,” Burlee says. “The technology fits our manufacturing profile. So as long as up-front financials can be overcome, a business can see the long-term benefits of these things.”

The goal is a net positive impact in every community Cummins operates so that the sum of the environmental good is larger than the local environmental footprint. As the JEP plant continues to innovate, grow and invest, Burlee notes that, “Net Zero – it’s not just what our product does or how we assemble it, it’s how much it burns in its life cycle. How much energy did it take to mine all the raw materials to get there? It’s a whole circular life cycle mindset.”

5 reasons why you should take this quiz on next-generation alternative fuels

hero image

Get ready to explore the world of alternative fuels and renewable resources with Cummins Inc’s "What fuels you - What next-generation fuel are you?" quiz. This quiz provides a fun and interactive way to understand how fuels have personalities just like us. It will help answer important questions like ‘What is the future of fuels for cars?’ and ‘How can we reduce our carbon footprint?’

By taking this quiz, you can discover which next-generation fuel matches your personality, whether you are renewable diesel, natural gas, or renewable electricity. Not only will you gain insight into the future of fuels and their environmental benefits, but you'll also exercise your brain and get a mood boost from taking the quiz.

Here are five reasons why you should take this quiz today:

1. It's quick and easy

The quiz only takes a few minutes to complete, so you can fit it into your busy schedule. Plus, you'll learn new information about alternative fuels and their many benefits.

2. It empowers you with knowledge about the future of fuels and energy

By taking this quiz, you'll learn about the latest innovations in the field of alternative fuels and renewable energy. You'll discover what Power-to-X fuels are, how renewable diesel works, and how hydrogen electricity compares to your personality. This knowledge can help you make more informed decisions about the fuels you use.

3. It provides brain exercise

Taking a quiz is a great way to exercise your brain and improve your decision-making skills. By challenging yourself to answer questions about alternative fuels, you'll be sharpening your mind and enhancing your cognitive abilities.

4. It's a mood booster

Taking a quiz can reduce stress and make you feel happy. This fun quiz will put a smile on your face and help you feel positive about the great work being done to make the world a cleaner place.

5. It helps you make friends

Sharing your quiz results with friends and colleagues can strengthen social interactions and allow you to connect with others who share your interest in alternative fuels and renewable resources. You never know, you might even meet a renewable diesel enthusiast who lives near you!

So, what are you waiting for? Take a break from your day and indulge in some self-discovery with this fun quiz about alternative fuels and renewable resources. Fuel your curiosity and gain valuable insights into the future of energy and fuels. Plus, you might just make some new friends along the way. Don't forget, we are on a path to a more sustainable future, and alternative fuels are a significant step in that direction.


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Stay ahead with the latest in new technologies, products, industry trends and news.

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Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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