When a Delaware-based chemical plant was looking for innovative ways to shrink its environmental footprint, it turned to Cummins.
Croda Inc.’s Atlas Point facility will get about half the power it needs in 2013 using a combined heat and power generating system from Cummins. The system runs on methane gas piped in from the nearby Cherry Island landfill and converts heat produced by the system’s two generators for use in Croda’s operations.
The project is expected to shrink the plant’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions equivalent to removing 33,000 cars from the road.
“This project demonstrates innovation and environmental commitment by taking a readily available waste product that previously served no productive purpose – in this case landfill gas – and putting it to work,” said Delaware Secretary of the Environment and Energy Collin O’Mara at a ground-breaking ceremony in 2012.
The Delaware initiative is merely one of many innovative projects Cummins is working on around the world.
The Company produces engines and power generation systems that run on alternative fuels, recover waste heat and shrink GHG emissions while providing customers with the power they need to succeed. Cummins’ Variable Geometry Turbochargers and revolutionary XPI Fuel Systems boost power and reduce emissions while optimizing fuel economy.
The Company’s commitment to innovation is reflected in the number and range of products it consistently brings to market. In the first quarter of 2013, for example, Cummins launched two new off-highway engines, the QSF3.8 and the QSM12, at a trade show in Munich, and the new marine version of the QSB6.7 during boat shows in Miami and Shanghai.
That same quarter, the Company unveiled a new powertrain package developed jointly with Eaton that is expected to deliver a 3 to 6 percent fuel economy improvement as well as a suite of near-market and future turbochargers capable of improving fuel efficiency by at least 6 percent.
And that is only part of Cummins’ innovation story. Since January 2012, the Company has introduced more than 60 new and updated products including engines, components and power generation systems.
Whether it involves the Company’s products, building stronger communities through Cummins’ Corporate Responsibility program, keeping employees safe or creating the right work environment for success, innovation is critical to the Company’s sustainability.
Maintaining something so important to Cummins’ sustainability can’t be left to chance. That’s why in 2013 the Company launched a campaign across Cummins to promote innovation – one of the Company’s six corporate values. Employees are being asked to “See the Future First and Beat the Competition to It!”
“Innovation continues to be fundamental to how we grow today and how we are going to grow in the future,” said Cummins Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Linebarger. “I think it’s really important to figure out how we are going to sustain the levels of innovation we enjoy today and find new ways to innovate in the future.”
BUILDING ON A RICH HISTORY
Cummins has a rich history of innovation to draw on and the Company has consistently invested in research and development and cutting-edge technology to keep moving forward.
Clessie Cummins, who founded Cummins more than 90 years ago, was an inventor at heart . A self-taught mechanic, he built his first car as a teen-ager before developing a fascination with the diesel engine as a young man. Over his lifetime, he was awarded more than 30 patents in areas ranging from fuel systems to engine brakes.
Dr. Julius Perr, the Company’s most prolific inventor, joined Cummins after fleeing Communist Hungary in 1956. Over his more than40-year career, the mechanical engineer submitted more than 300 patents on engine improvements, including 80 still in use today.
Dr. Alyn Lyn joined the Company in 1968 as a senior technical advisor and would become Cummins’ Vice President of Research and Engineering during his more than 20 years with the Company. In addition to playing a key role in Cummins’ successful entry into China, Dr. Lyn was a pioneer in detailed combustion modeling of the diesel engine.
That modeling would become the foundation for Analysis Led Design, which Cummins uses in almost all of its technical research and development today. By employing sophisticated computer models to first analyze all aspects of an engineering challenge and then designing solutions accordingly, Cummins engineers can study an almost limitless variety of approaches.
Analysis Led Design has increased the depth and breadth of research at the Company, and it has been good for the environment, too, limiting the amount of testing that takes place with an actual engine in a test cell.
Cummins today has technical centers in Brazil, China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States and a number of highly specialized tools at its disposal.
The Company’s Cyber Applications Lab, for example, is able to virtually replicate a truck trip from, say, Denver, Colo., to Columbus, Ind., including traffic and weather, to test the performance of a turbocharger or other components.
The Department of Metrology’s laser tracker can take a three-dimensional picture of an engine component so engineers can check an engine part against the original design specifications to detect even tiny variations. With engines and components being asked to do more than ever before, even the slightest variation can be critical.
The Company’s commitment to research and development is unwavering. In 2012, despite a drop in sales from $18 billion to $17.3 billion in the midst of a global economic slowdown, the Company invested $728 million in research and development, up 16 percent from 2011.
In addition, Cummins and its joint ventures invested over $1 billion in capital expenditures, much of it related to the development of new projects.
“We can’t stop investing in technology and expect to be in the market in two or three years,” said Pat Ward, Cummins’ Vice President – Finance and the Company’s Chief Financial Officer.
CAMPAIGNING FOR INNOVATION
Cummins’ campaign for innovation comes at an especially critical time for the Company’s technical function.
For most of the past two decades, the biggest driver of technical innovation at the Company has been increasingly stringent emissions regulations in nearly every platform, from pickup truck engines to power generation systems. With emissions levels approaching near zero levels in most mature markets, Cummins technical leaders are thinking a lot about what will drive innovation over the next 20 to 30 years.
“We have had a very strict schedule of emissions technology requirements over time,” said Cummins Vice President and Chief Technical Officer Dr. John Wall. “We’ve been paced by the leading markets and integrated that into developing markets, which gives us a pace and schedule to product delivery.
“Without that strong driver, we now have to create our own pace for innovation. How do we interact with our customers and manage our business to deliver innovative products when we don’t have that clock ticking on the next emissions regulations?”
Wall believes it will be more critical than ever before for Cummins to stay connected to its customers so the Company’s engineers can anticipate their needs and desires even when they may not be able to put them into words.
“We need to know our markets and individual customers better than anyone else,” he said. “We need to know our technologies better than anyone else and we need to be able to combine those so we can continue to differentiate our products in the eyes of our customers.”
Wall has asked Joan Wills, Director – Technology Planning, to work with business units and their leaders within Cummins to create the processes, capability and culture necessary to drive innovation in the future. She is stressing the importance of listening to customers, devoting personnel and resources to research and development, and investing in new technology.
Wills and her staff have developed a list of “Cummins Innovation Enablers” to help guide Company leaders and employees as they think about what’s ahead.
“Cummins has a rich history of product innovation, so these enablers will seem familiar to many,” Wills said. “But in the crush of meeting day-to-day deadlines, they can get pushed to the back burner and we just can’t afford to let that happen.”
Wills said there is no question in her mind that the spirit of innovation is alive and well at Cummins and the future is extremely bright.
The Delaware landfill gas project is a good example. Work is already underway on an even bigger, more complex project to install a combined heat and power system at the City of Wilmington’s waste water treatment plant.
That system, to be completed in 2014, will be fueled by a blend of gas from the Cherry Island landfill and digester gas from the treatment plant. The new project will produce nearly twice as much energy as the system at the chemical plant.
“We have some incredible work happening all over the Company,” Wills said. “As we transition from an emission- to a more customer-focused approach, we have to adapt our product innovation expertise to our global markets. I’m confident we can and that Cummins’ legacy of innovation will continue for years to come.”
7 Enablers of Innovation at Cummins
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