Cummins Plant Wins State Honor for Environmental Excellence
Global power leader Cummins Inc.'s Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant (CMEP) has received a 2022 Indiana governor’s environmental excellence award for a project reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by eliminating the plant’s painting operation.
The change was made after an exhaustive, two-year study demonstrated the clear coating applied by the operation was providing little additional product protection.
“It was a win any way you look at it: environmentally, financially, productivity, and quality,” said Senior Industrial Engineer Clarissa Arriaga, who along with Current Product Senior Engineer Ashwini Khandelwal conducted the study that led to the change.
“In today’s world we need to do whatever we can to make our engines the cleanest technology possible,” Khandelwal added.
The award was presented Sept. 21 during the state’s 25th Annual Pollution Prevention Conference in Indianapolis. CMEP was one of six entities honored at the event, joining other businesses, a school system, and public-private partnerships receiving awards this year.
Arriaga’s and Khandelwal’s research found most parts for the company’s 6.7 liter diesel engine were either already made of corrosive-resistant materials or had some kind of treatment prior to assembly. The benefit of the clear coating 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.
Eliminating the coating operation not only significantly reduced VOC emissions, but also cut the water, soap and chemicals used to clean the engines, as well as the energy used to dry engines after they were painted.
Reducing VOC emissions 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 across the company 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.
The two engineers, as well as Plant Manager Nicole Wheeldon, all emphasize the benefits of eliminating the clear coating 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.
Little changes, however, when end users open up the hood. They will continue to see a small vanity plate with the Cummins logo on top of the company’s powerful 6.7-liter engine.