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Cummins: 100 Years of Trust & Innovation

Posted by Cummins Expert on

Quality and Reliability Power the Company Behind the Name

When Clessie Cummins started Cummins Machine Works out of an Indiana garage back in 1919, he never dreamed that it would produce the most recognized diesel engine on the roadway, or that it would grow into a global Fortune 500 company doing business beyond the diesel engine landscape. Today, Cummins, Inc. spans five business segments supporting power, transportation and distribution product lines that power a wide range of industries. More than just a diesel engine producer, Cummins’ natural gas engines, and now electric, are driving commercial fleets around the world. An expansion into power systems brings high-speed, high-horsepower engines and power generation to residential and commercial applications from healthcare to mining to defense and beyond. Through this innovation, the Cummins core mission has grown to “Make people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world.”

The Engine That Started It All–The Model F.

Having previously worked as a chauffeur, a member of the Marmon Motor Company pit crew and also the owner of an auto repair shop, Clessie Cummins knew a thing or two about engines. His entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for turning challenges into opportunities was soon inspired by Rudolf Diesel’s engine designs, and that inspiration fueled the early days of Cummins Machine Works. As the company’s founder and first president, Clessie was determined to produce his own flavor of diesel engine. By 1924, the company had a winner, the Clessie Cummins’ patented direct-injection design, known as the Model F. From that point on, innovation and growth continued, as each iteration of Cummins engine continued to improve and slowly gain traction in commercial vehicles. But it was the Model H engine in 1932 that changed the course of the company. The Model H would eventually become the most abundant engine on American highways, and a major fixture in the North American trucking industry. For the next 70 years it would make the Cummins name synonymous with reliability, paving a strong road for future growth.

From Indiana to the World–Cummins Expands.

By 1955, Cummins diesel engines had become the trusty workhorses of the American highway system, powering over half of commercial diesel trucks crisscrossing the country. This market dominance didn’t go unnoticed, and the company began expanding internationally, first in Scotland, then Brazil and beyond, as global markets recognized an emerging leader in the industry. To streamline production and keep costs under their control, Cummins also began acquiring smaller components companies, starting with Seymour Woolen Mills, which would become Fleetguard Filtration. Rather than be at the mercy of the ebb and flow of the marketplace, pulling smaller components companies under the Cummins brand also meant better quality assurance. Instead of telling other people how to design and produce a filter, for example, Cummins could ensure the highest quality standards for components that would keep their engines running in top shape. Today, in addition to Filtration, the Cummins Components segment includes Turbo Technologies, Emissions Solutions, Electronics, and Fuel Systems.

Staying true to its mission, Cummins embraces new technology.

Still headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, Cummins has expanded beyond the garage and that early Model F diesel engine to incorporate natural gas engines and now an electrified truck, the AEOS, embracing the changing marketplace and innovating ahead of, not behind, changing global needs. As further proof of that innovative spirit, in 2018 Cummins added Electrified Power to its lineup of business segments–currently in development are the Cummins Battery Electric System and Cummins Power Hybrid Plug-In systems for urban buses. If 100 years of steady growth has shown anything, it’s that commitment to quality and reliability, while turning challenges into opportunities for innovation, have been the unwavering forces behind the company’s overarching vision: “Innovating for our customers to power their success.” And serving that vision, despite unpredictable changes in technology and business, has made Cummins a name to trust.

Cummins has done a lot in 100 years–see the full timeline from 1919 to 2019. It’s an impressive story!


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