Cummins working to be water wise

This meadow at Cummins’ Corporate Office Building is part of the company’s move away from water -intensive landscaping.
This meadow at Cummins’ Corporate Office Building is part of the company’s move away from water-intensive landscaping.

In celebration of World Water Day this week, here are five things Cummins Inc. is doing to use water more sustainably.

Across the company, employees are working to be better stewards of this increasingly important resource.


One of Cummins’ 2030 goals in the company’s PLANET 2050 environmental sustainability strategy is to reduce water consumption in facilities and operations by 30%. The 2030 goal calls for an “absolute” reduction of 30%. That means it remains at 30% no matter how much the company grows between now and 2030. Leaders say it will likely require some extremely creative solutions to reach a 30% reduction under those conditions, including implementing alternatives to water use.

A tug starts its day on the Ohio River.
A tug starts its day on the Ohio River near Paducah, Kentucky.


In 2021, the company announced a new global community program called Cummins Water Works to address the global water crisis by partnering with leading water experts and investing and engaging in sustainable, large-scale, high-impact water projects around the world. The program is supported initially by more than $10 million in Cummins grants focusing on five of the most water-stressed countries: Mexico, Brazil, India, South Africa and the United States. By 2030, Cummins Water Works’ goal is to bring more than 1 billion gallons of fresh water to more than 2 million people who would not otherwise have access to it, while producing net water benefits that exceed Cummins’ annual water use.

The water system at Cummins' Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina returns millions of gallons of water to the plant for reuse.
The water system at Cummins' Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina returns millions of gallons of water to the plant for reuse.


Cummins is conserving millions of gallons of water through three relatively new on-site treatment systems at the Kothrud Engine Plant in Pune, India; the Jamestown Engine Plant in Jamestown, New York; and the Rocky Mount Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina – three of the company’s largest plants. The multi-faceted systems are designed to treat the water used at those locations and return a significant amount to the plants for non-potable re-use. Rocky Mount’s system includes a greenhouse where hydroponic plants provide supplemental aeration and catalyze an ecology of grazing micro-organisms to reduce sludge and increase treatment efficiency. The water returned to the plants is used to cool machinery such as air compressors, and significantly reduces the amount of water purchased from local utilities.

Water-friendly meadow grasses at the Distribution business headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Water-friendly grasses at the Distribution business segment headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Cummins is moving away from water-intensive landscaping, using native plants, grasses and other techniques in its landscaping as well designs that keep water on site rather than simply channeling it off-site. The company’s campus in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, started the movement several years ago by using native plants requiring much less water in its landscaping. More recently, meadow plantings have been used at the company’s Corporate Office Building and the Cummins Machine Integration Center in Columbus, Indiana, as well as the Cummins Distribution Headquarters in nearby Indianapolis. The landscaping in the plaza area at the Distribution Headquarters collects water runoff when it rains. As water accumulates it is redirected to an underground storage tank for later use watering plants and trees on site. 


A surprisingly large amount of water can be used during the testing of sprinkler systems designed to put out a fire in a plant or facility. Cummins is moving away from single-use systems, where water used for the testing process is discharged straight off-site. In some locations, water is pumped into the sprinkler system using diesel engines that then require still more water for cooling. A growing number of Cummins facilities are investing in systems that recirculate and recycle water within the system, or looking at ways to collect, store and use the water for alternative non-potable use.




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]


Leaders say Cummins ‘uniquely positioned’ to lead on climate action

President and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Rumsey meets with Cummins employees.

Cummins Inc. leaders used this week’s Annual Meeting to tell stakeholders the company is ready to lead in the effort to address the world’s climate challenges and other environmental issues.


Cummins is embracing the opportunity to be part of the solution addressing climate change by pursuing reductions in greenhouse gases (GHGs) from both the company’s internal combustion engines and new technologies. President and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Rumsey pointed to Cummins’ Destination Zero initiative, the company’s strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in a way that serves all of Cummins’ stakeholders and is sustainable for the company.

“Our industry plays a significant role in contributing to climate change – both the problem and the solution,” said Rumsey, who addressed Cummins’ climate strategy during the May 10 meeting. “We will lead our industry in the path to net-zero emissions because it is critical for our planet and future generations, and because it is a growth opportunity for us.”

There are five key capabilities, Rumsey said, that make  Cummins “uniquely positioned” to lead on the transition to a net-zero emission economy and decarbonization:

  • First, the company is a leader in the key technologies for reaching zero tailpipe emissions in commercial and industrial applications as well as the “transition technologies” that lower carbon emissions from engine-based solutions broadly available today.
  • Second, after more than 100 years in business, Cummins is a trusted partner in providing power solutions to leading original equipment manufacturers and customers, which “brings us visibility to opportunities and product plans, and economies of scale in production and service,” Rumsey said. 
  • Third, the company knows its customers and applications, “each of which has unique technical, performance and service demands,” Rumsey said. “We have thousands of highly-skilled engineers who know how to adapt existing and new technologies into products our customers can actually use and afford.”
  • Fourth, Cummins is building a combination of business segments “that have both the capability to serve the industry and the agility to pivot our product offerings depending on changes in regulations and infrastructure, advancements in technology and end user preference.”
  • Finally, Rumsey said the company has invested significantly to attract and build the best talent and to “create an environment for innovation and long-term success that will increase shareholder value.” 

Diversity, equity and inclusion is critical to the company’s efforts to develop the kind of work environment that can lead the energy transformation.

“For us to win on the journey to decarbonization, we also need to create an inclusive environment to spur innovation, attract and build the best talent, and develop our next generation of leaders,” Rumsey said.

“…Diversity and inclusion is a core value at Cummins, and our leaders believe that diversity creates a strong, more competitive work environment that enables all employees to contribute fully, and ultimately, helps us attract and retain top talent,” Rumsey added. “To achieve that goal, we have implemented systems and processes to mitigate potential bias and ensure equitable hiring and advancement of all talent. By making room for everyone to succeed, we will win with the power of difference.”

Cummins has set the stage for success not just through Destination Zero but also PLANET 2050, the company’s environmental sustainability strategy, which includes science-based targets aligned to the Paris Climate Accords, with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Sustainability is core to achieving our mission of making people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world,” Rumsey said. “It’s what we’ve always done – we were the first company to embrace more stringent emission standards in the U.S. – and how we will keep operating.”


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 Earth Day with BCSC students

Cummins engineers teaching students about Cummins powered products

Earth Day was a great reason for Cummins engineers to show the next generation some of the company’s “next generation” technology.

On Friday, April 22, more than 100 students from Central Middle School and CSA Lincoln Elementary in Columbus, IN met with Cummins engineers around a 2020 Blue Bird All American Electric Type D School Bus, with an 84-passenger capacity; a Kenworth T680 with a Cummins ISX12N near-zero emissions natural gas engine; and a 2021 Freightliner Cascadia Semi running on a Cummins X15 Efficiency diesel engine. The lesson of the day was climate change, Destination Zero, and the important role that technology can play in reducing emissions.

Cummins employee teaching student about Cummins products

“Cummins engineers explained the different types of fuels and energy we have on the road today, teaching the kids empathy for the environment and offering them a better understanding of green energy and sustainability. This event is part of our STEM activities we do in partnership with Cummins throughout the year and we really appreciate it,” said Mr. Jeffery Fant, Science Teacher at Central Middle School.

Cummins began its relationship with Central Middle School in the 2019-2020 school year after Cummins engineer Jason Major volunteered his time in his daughter’s science class. He soon recruited several of his colleagues to engage the middle school science students on such topics as the scientific method, creative innovation, team building and artificial intelligence. Today’s event was the largest to date, with several more in the works.

"We are fortunate to have wonderful community partners who engage our students in experiences like visiting the newest technologies being utilized at Cummins to reduce emissions. Our students enjoyed the time they spent learning about the semi-trucks and electric-powered school buses,” said Brett Findley, Ed.S. Principal, CSA Lincoln Elementary.
Learn about Cummins’ commitment to Destination Zero

Catherine Morgenstern - Cummins Inc.

Catherine Morgenstern

Catherine Morgenstern is a Brand Journalist for Cummins, covering topics such as alternative propulsion, digitalization, manufacturing innovation, autonomy, sustainability, and workplace trends. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, holding leadership positions most recently within the Industrial Capital Goods sector.

Catherine began her career as a marketing writer for a biotechnology company, where she learned to take complicated and highly technical information and make it accessible to everyone. She believes the concept of “storytelling” is more than a trendy buzzword and loves to find ways for her readers to make personal connections to her subjects. Catherine has a passion for technology and innovation and how its intersection can make an impact in all our lives.

Catherine recently moved back to her hometown in the Hudson Valley, New York after a several decades in Los Angeles and Chicago. She is a graduate of UCLA and enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and three children.

Company makes progress on goal to use less, use better and use again

The Material Science Lab at the Cummins Technical Center.

It is among the most challenging of the 2030 goals in Cummins Inc.’s PLANET 2050 environmental sustainability strategy: create a circular lifecycle plan for every part to use less, use better, and use again.

This goal is focused on waste minimization through material efficiency, the company’s biggest water and waste footprint in the value chain. It’s such a big challenge because there are thousands of parts in Cummins’ broad range of product offerings, which power everything from trucks, trains and marine vessels to construction equipment, farm machinery, generators and more

“You’re really talking about reducing natural resource use by design, from the raw materials we use, and how they are processed, to ensuring the raw materials can be used again for another life,” said Karen Cecil, Cummins’ Director of Environmental Sustainability. “Waste minimization requires a new mindset, tools, and partnerships.” 

The goal is critical to PLANET 2050’s mission to address both the world’s climate challenges and natural resource availability. 


The world’s supply of natural resources, including, in a cruel twist of cosmic fate, the rare earth metals used in many no and low-carbon technologies needed to power the future, are being diminished at an alarming rate.

The Global Footprint Network estimates in 2022 the world will use the resource equivalent of 1.75 earths, which is faster than the earth can replenish those materials. It projects the world will need resources equivalent to two earths by 2030 and then three earths by 2050, if resource use doesn’t slow or get replenished. 

So, in theory, the world could solve its climate challenges only to face resource shortages for no-carbon technologies just as crippling. 

In some cases, procuring a resource can impact another resource. For example, Cecil said Cummins’ single largest use of water stems not from any manufacturing process but from the harvesting and processing of the raw materials used in the company’s products.

Cummins officials hope the company’s lifecycle planning goal will optimize its resource use, as well as enable Cummins’ low-carbon transformation, while powering customer success and maintaining the economic benefits society depends on.

Material Science Laboratory at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus
The Materials Science Laboratory at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana, gathers in-depth information on materials used in the company's products. 


In 2021, the company took several important first steps toward meeting its lifecycle planning goal. In addition to building support for the goal across Cummins and establishing the employee committees designated to lead the effort, the company accomplished two critical steps.

First, Cummins established a Circular Lifecycle Design Standard. Design standards serve as a sort of roadmap for engineers as they put together part designs before going into production.

The new standard includes important lifecycle principles, such as review by Cummins’ Materials Science function to ensure a part uses the most appropriate materials and processing from an environmental sustainability perspective. 

Other principles include minimizing how much material is used in a part while still achieving the necessary strength and durability, and ensuring a part’s design takes into account remanufacturing, reuse or recycling. The standard also addresses whether a design has been evaluated for minimizing scrap during production.

If a design can use fewer raw materials, less material must be mined or harvested, which saves natural resources and reduces the energy used to gather and process material for a new part. Less energy used translates into lower greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Extending a part’s life through remanufacturing also requires less energy and natural resources than making a new part. And minimizing the materials processing necessary to produce a new part saves energy and by extension reduces GHGs.


In addition to establishing the standard, Cummins created an optimization center with the tools engineers need to answer questions like where strength and durability are especially important in a design and where parts may be able to use less material without compromising performance and durability.

Cummins engineers have been working for several years with powerful computer software to answer those and other questions, which in itself saves energy by limiting the number of parts that have to be manufactured to test different designs.

Julie Wagner, Engineering Knowledge Management Leader, and David Genter, Product Design Functional Excellence Leader, were part of the team that put the design standard together.

Genter said establishing the standard as a cross-functional initiative that applies to every business unit at the company was a critical first step. Wagner said it was also important to get tools established before the company begins reporting its progress against the 2030 goal.


While there is significant work ahead on the goal, Todd Weiland,  Director of Research and Technology in Cummins New and ReCon Parts function, is confident the lifecycle planning goal can be accomplished. Weiland is part of the team working on important questions still to be resolved like where the lifecycle plans will be stored and what form they will take.

He said it is important to remember that the goal is optimization – not every part is a candidate for remanufacturing or recycling in exactly the same way. As for the number of parts, he said many are similar and will be able to share plan elements, easing the burden on design engineers.

Weiland believes the biggest challenge may be identifying those parts that are uniquely difficult to handle, and developing plans for them.

“We’re doing a lot of this work now, but perhaps not as effectively and efficiently as we could,” he said. “Establishing these plans will make us much better stewards of the resources Cummins depends on.” 

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 sets new record for global patents

The Columbus Engine Plant

Cummins received a record 564 global patents in 2021, as the company’s engineers, technologists and global IP team worked together to nearly double the 312 global patents recorded in 2020.

While every patent starts with an innovative idea, Cummins leaders say many factors go into the granting of a global patent. 

“Every patent starts with a novel idea that is tied to a company innovation and developed through the engineering and IP (intellectual property) processes,” said Dale Davis, Cummins’ Chief Intellectual Property Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. “Those innovations are reviewed as part of a collaborative process by our IP teams, inside counsel and then drafted by outside counsel. I think what you are seeing is the result of a process that has tremendous rigor.”

Today marks World Intellectual Property Day, held to raise awareness about the impact patents, copyright and trademarks have on people’s daily lives. Patents are critical for a company like Cummins because they secure for a certain number of years the right to exclude others from using a company invention or idea. A single idea can receive multiple global patents as it is protected in different countries. 

Patents can take time to clear the necessary regulatory requirements – as long as three years is not unusual. Davis suspects that the big jump in global patents in 2021 for Cummins may also reflect, to some degree, the impact of COVID-19. Some countries may have caught up on patent applications last year after closing their patent offices for a period during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

The new patent record comes as Cummins is taking a leadership role in addressing the world’s climate challenges, which Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger has called “the existential crisis of our time.” 

The company has been working to make its internal combustion engines more efficient and exploring the use of low-carbon fuels in its core platforms. Cummins has also been bringing to market no-carbon technologies such as battery and fuel-cell electric as well as electrolyzers critical to producing green hydrogen.

The company recently announced its Destination Zero strategy to guide Cummins’ efforts to achieve carbon reductions immediately through its core technologies while providing a roadmap that best serves all of the company’s stakeholders as Cummins’ pursues its aspiration to power customer success with net-zero emission technologies by 2050.  

Cummins Engine business segment led the way in 2021, receiving about 28% of the company’s global patents, followed by Cummins Emission Solutions with about 22%. It was the fourth consecutive year the company saw a total increase in global patents.

“We are very fortunate at Cummins to have an experienced and dedicated team of attorneys, Invention Review Committee Chairs, and many other members of the overall IP Team,” Davis said. “Additionally,  we have support from the Cummins Leadership Team, Cummins’ Area Business Organizations and business unit leaders. All of us are tirelessly working together as a team to create, protect, and defend our company employees’ great ideas.”

Davis noted that World Intellectual Property Day has a special theme this year – “IP and Youth Innovating for a Better Future.” He urged young inventors, creators and entrepreneurs to check out the World Intellectual Property Organization to see how they can use intellectual property rights to help achieve their goals. He said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is another source of great information on how youth can get involved in intellectual property.

2021                       564
2020                       312
2019                       277
2018                       264
2017                       287




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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