Cummins plant receives Indiana governor's environmental excellence award

Engineers Clarissa Arriaga and Ashwini Khandelwal led the no-paint initiative

Cummins Inc.'s Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant (CMEP) has received a 2022 Indiana Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for a project resulting in the plant no longer painting 6.7-liter diesel engines with a clear coating before they leave the facility.

The award was presented Wednesday (Sept. 21) during the state’s 25th Annual Pollution Prevention Conference in Indianapolis. The plant’s effort not only significantly reduces the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but also cuts the water, soap and chemicals used to clean the engines, as well as the energy used to dry engines after they are painted.

Cummins was one of six groups honored at the event, joining businesses, school systems, public private partnerships and other groups in receiving the award this year.

Reducing VOCs is one of the 2030 goals included in PLANET 2050, Cummins’ environmental sustainability strategy. The strategy establishes the goal of reducing VOCs from paint and coating operations by 50% over the next decade, in addition to goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), water use and waste production. Other goals include creating a lifecycle plan for every part and recycling 100% of packaging plastics.

Cummins employees gather after receiving the 2022 Indiana Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence in Indianapolis.
Cummins employees gather after the ceremony where the Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant received a 2022 Indiana Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence in Indianapolis.

RESEARCH SETS THE STAGE

Plant Manager Nicole Wheeldon credits two engineers at CMEP with conducting a two-year validation investigation that determined the lack of clear coating, which consumed about 260 gallons of paint per week, would not make the engines more susceptible to corrosion.

Senior Industrial Engineer Clarissa Arriaga and Current Product Senior Engineer Ashwini Khandelwal found most engine parts were either already made of corrosive-resistant materials or had some kind of treatment prior to assembly. The benefit of painting was largely degraded by the time the Cummins engine was installed at the customer’s facility and then left that facility for the next stop on its journey.

The award is another chapter in the rich history of the plant, which was built in 1971 largely below ground level with parking on the roof to better integrate with the surrounding nature. Wildlife has been known to walk up and peer through CMEP’s windows.

Arriaga and Khandelwal are pleased they could contribute to creating a more sustainable product.

“In today’s world we need to do whatever we can to make our engines the cleanest technology possible,” Khandelwal said.

BENEFITS BEYOND THE ENVIRONMENT

But the two engineers, as well as Plant Manager Wheeldon, all emphasize the benefits extend beyond the environment. There is a cost-savings with no longer painting the engines for both the company and the customer. The change also frees up valuable space in the plant for other uses, and allows the employees in the painting operation to be re-assigned to other more important tasks.

The change, which went into effect in the fourth quarter of 2021, also eliminated something of a bottleneck in the plant when engines had to be cleaned, painted and dried.

“It was a win any way you look at it: environmentally, financially, productivity, and quality,” Arriaga said.

Little changes when end users open up the hood. They will continue to see a small vanity plate with the Cummins logo on top of the powerful 6.7-liter engine. 

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]

 

Community recycling days draw big crowds, and tons of stuff

Volunteers clear a truck of electronic equipment at the Columbus Engine Plant’s Community Recycling Day.

Community recycling days over the summer at two of Cummins Inc.’s larger U.S. plants collectively emptied more than 2,000 vehicles of an estimated 140 tons of electronics, batteries, tires, used paint, old lightbulbs and more.

The separate events at Cummins’ Jamestown Engine Plant (JEP) in Jamestown, New York, and the company’s Columbus Engine Plant (CEP) in Columbus, Indiana, also attracted plenty of people, some waiting as long as three hours for their chance to safely rid themselves of material they had been holding onto, sometimes for years.

“It was really good to be able to have the Community Recycling Day at CEP once again,” said CEP Plant Manager Kyle Lewandowski. “It has been a couple of years since this event was held due to COVID. It gives people within the community an outlet to dispose of things they have around the house that are typically difficult to get rid of safely. It also provides a lot of opportunities for people around the community to volunteer, and that’s what makes the event so fun and successful.”

PEOPLE CAME EARLY

The Jamestown event was held June 18, while the Columbus community recycling day took place Sept. 15. It was the first such event at CEP in two years because of COVID-19. JEP didn’t have its event in 2020 because of the pandemic but was able to conduct a recycling day in 2021.

Both events this year happened under sunny skies, lending a festive atmosphere to the efforts.

“We had people lining up at 5:30 a.m. and our event didn’t start until 9 (a.m.),” said Loren Chase, Health, Safety and Environment Leader at the Jamestown plant. “I don’t know if they got the time wrong or just enjoyed seeing the whole thing come to life.”

Taken together, the events involved nearly 200 volunteers, working in concert with partners capable of safely handling hard-to-recycle items like waste paints and electronics. The Columbus event also got a helping hand from more than 40 National Honor Society volunteers from Columbus East High School in addition to volunteers from Cummins.

Older television sets showed up at both events.
Yes, older TVs are still out there and they can be difficult to recycle. This one showed up at the recycling day at the Columbus Engine Plant.

SURPRISING ITEMS

Organizers said the days brought out some unexpected items.

“One of the things that got my attention and the attention of many of our volunteers was the number of old TVs we saw with the cathode-ray tubes,” said David Wehrkamp, Health, Safety and Environment Leader at the Columbus Engine Plant. “There were some of the big heavy ones with the wood paneling. I didn’t think people still had them, but they do.”

While perhaps amusing, the old TVs underscore the importance of events like the ones in Columbus and Jamestown. Older TVs with cathode-ray tubes typically hold lead, cadmium-based phosphorus, and other toxic chemicals that make them potentially dangerous and hard to recycle. Many places in the United States charge a fee for handling them, but the recycling and cleanup days at both plants took them at no-cost.

The same kind of thing can be true for waste oils, paints and other liquids as well as tires. While both events depend on volunteer labor, they also involve significant costs that both locations cover through various means. 

PURPOSEFUL EVENTS

Government leaders say community recycling days serve an important purpose as part of the three R’s of waste management – reduce, reuse and recycle – to limit what ends up at landfills, incinerators and other means of waste disposal.

The Jamestown Engine Plant Recycling Day drew big crowds in 2022.
Community members began lining up at 5:30 a.m. for the Jamestown Engine Plant's Recycling Day on June 18.

“There is value in all unwanted items we accumulate in our homes,” said Tracy “T.J.” Pierce, Solid Waste Analyst for the Chautauqua County Division of Solid Waste in Jamestown. “…The community cleanup days organized by Cummins provide our communities an awesome opportunity to remove unwanted items from people’s lives and accumulate them in one place where they can be efficiently sorted and delivered to the recycling industry to extract that value.” 

Given they provide people the chance to do the right thing and save money, it’s no wonder the JEP and CEP recycling days, each now more than a decade old, are extremely popular.

“We get people calling months ahead of time asking, ‘when is the cleanup day?’” said David Burlee, JEP’s Machining Director of Operations and the longtime leader of the Jamestown event until handing that responsibility to Chase this year. “It’s great to be part of something people feel so strongly about.” 

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’ Statement on South Carolina’s Proposed Abortion Ban

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Over the past few months, Cummins has been communicating internally to our employees, and publicly, our concerns with laws and proposals that limit the ability of people to make decisions about their reproductive healthcare. We are very concerned with the proposed legislation in South Carolina that would limit reproductive healthcare access. 

If passed, this legislation will impact our employees, our communities and impede our ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce in South Carolina. Cummins believes that women should have the right to make reproductive healthcare decisions as a matter of gender equity, ensuring that women have the same opportunity as others to participate fully in the workforce and that our workforce is diverse. South Carolina’s proposed legislation is contrary to this goal.

For Cummins to be successful it is critical that we have a safe and welcoming workplace, and communities where we embrace our differences and enable all employees to thrive. As we continue to grow our footprint with a focus on selecting communities that align with our values and business goals, this law will be considered in our decision-making process.

We want to make it clear that Cummins will continue to provide our employees with access to high-quality, affordable healthcare, regardless of where they live and are able to make healthcare decisions based on what they believe is right for them.

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.

Cummins believes climate legislation key to creating low-carbon future

Image of virtual roundtable discussion on Inflation Reduction Act

Cummins Inc. leaders say the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law this week by President Biden will play an important role in the company’s journey to a carbon free economy.

The legislation establishes key incentives for the development of both the technologies that will power the future and the infrastructure to support them.

“We think the comprehensive scope of the energy provisions (in the act) – from power generation, to transportation, to hydrogen production – are all important pieces of the decarbonization puzzle, and they’re important to ensure we have the well-to-wheels decarbonization in hard-to-abate sectors like those we serve,” Cummins President and CEO Jennifer Rumsey said at a roundtable discussion hosted by the White House earlier this month before final congressional approval of the legislation.

“We see a significant opportunity to increase U.S. manufacturing capacity and grow jobs in all of these different technologies that support our strategy – Destination Zero – to decarbonize our industry,” Rumsey said later in the virtual forum, which also included General Motors CEO Mary Barra and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen.

THE LEGISLATION AND DESTINATION ZERO

The legislation includes incentives for development of low- and no-carbon technologies, including battery and fuel cell electric, as well as low- and no-carbon fuels like hydrogen that could be used in those new technologies. Hydrogen can also fuel traditional platforms, such as internal combustion engines, to reduce carbon.

Destination Zero, Cummins’ strategy for decarbonization, calls for developing and advancing low- and no-carbon platforms for those customers who are ready for them while also working to reduce carbon emissions from the company’s more traditional products.

Cummins has brought to market battery and fuel cell electric platforms as well as electrolyzers critical to producing low-carbon and green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is produced when the electrolysis of water to split hydrogen and oxygen is accomplished using renewable forms of power.

The company is also bringing to market fuel-agnostic internal combustion engines offering a common architecture that can be optimized for different low-carbon fuels. 

Cummins has pledged to take a leadership role in addressing the world’s climate challenges. PLANET 2050, the company’s environmental sustainability strategy, includes goals timed to 2030 to reduce carbon emissions from company plants and facilities in addition to its products.

Cummins’ first update on its progress toward those 2030 goals is included in the company’s 2021 Sustainability Progress Report posted in July. 

Image from the roundtable discussion on the climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act
An image from the White House virtual roundtable discussion of the climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act.

ADVOCATES FOR ACTION

Destination Zero charts a path to PLANET 2050’s aspiration to power customer success exclusively with net-zero emission technologies by the year 2050.

Cummins believes it can have a significant impact on the climate because of its size and the varied markets it serves. The company’s technology helps power the on-highway, off-highway, marine, rail, and construction markets to name just some. But Cummins has also said it cannot solve these challenges acting alone.

The company advocated for the Inflation Reduction Act in multiple ways including Cummins' membership in the CEO Climate Dialogue. The group is made up of 22 leading businesses and four environmental organizations pledging to work together for climate action. Members range from the Ford Motor Company to the Environmental Defense Fund.

“As climate risks have continued to intensify, so has the urgency to put in place policies that will help to reduce carbon emissions, put us on path to net-zero by 2050, accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy, bolster investment and innovation in clean energy technologies, create jobs, promote equity, and increase U.S. economic competitiveness,” the group said after the Inflation Reduction Act passed the U.S. House on Aug. 12.

“The Inflation Reduction Act makes significant progress toward meeting our climate goals,” the group added. “Combined with future action like the enactment of a price on carbon, these policies will create a strong and sustainable economy.”

ACCELERATING CUMMINS’ JOURNEY

Cummins’ leaders are ready to continue the company’s carbon reduction efforts under the provisions of the new legislation. 

“We are excited for the opportunity to bring some of these technologies here to the U.S., export these technologies globally, (and) increase American competitiveness,” Rumsey told the President at the forum. “…We see the Inflation Reduction Act as a key piece of accelerating our journey and really transitioning our applications to the technologies of the future like battery (and) fuel cell electric and green hydrogen.”

“Well, I think you can do it, I really do,” President Biden responded, “and I hope this (the Inflation Reduction Act) is as helpful as we think it is, because you’ve always been at the forefront before.” 
 

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]

 

Indiana's Abortion Law

Cummins Distribution Headquarters - Indianapolis, Indiana

Today, our company has received a number of media inquiries about Cummins’ position on Indiana’s abortion law. We want to be clear that we have been communicating our position on this issue to our employees and directly with legislative leaders prior to, and during, the legislative process. Below is the full statement we shared with our employees on Saturday, August 6.

"Late last night, the Indiana General Assembly passed a comprehensive abortion bill that the Governor has signed into law. We are deeply concerned about how this law impacts our people and impedes our ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce in Indiana – concerns that we have voiced to legislators. Cummins believes that women should have the right to make reproductive healthcare decisions as a matter of gender equity, ensuring that women have the same opportunity as others to participate fully in the workforce and that our workforce is diverse. This law is contrary to this goal and we oppose it.

For Cummins to be successful it is critical that we have a safe and welcoming workplace, and communities where we embrace our differences and enable all employees to thrive. As we continue to grow our footprint with a focus on selecting communities that align with our values and business goals, this law will be considered in our decision-making process.

We have also been clear and consistent in advocating that we will continue to provide our employees with access to high-quality, affordable healthcare, regardless of where they live and are able to make healthcare decisions based on what they believe is right for them.

This law does not affect our right to offer reproductive health benefits and we will continue to offer such benefits to our employees."
 

Jon Mills

Jon Mills

Jon Mills is the Director of External Communications at Cummins Inc. Jon brings more than 16 years of communications focusing primarily on public and media relations. Jon has served as the primary external communications contact and spokesperson for a variety of companies including Wellpoint, IU Health, Planned Parenthood. His career has also included stints on Capitol Hill, state level lobbying, talk radio and political campaigns. During his tenure, Jon has also played a leadership role in communicating and messaging around several crises, including one that attracted national attention when lives were lost at a large downtown Indianapolis hospital. Jon is a native Hoosier and resides with his family in Indianapolis.

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