Cummins plant receives Indiana governor's environmental excellence award
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.
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.