Cummins’ diversification efforts positive news for city

Cummins Inc. sent a clear message when it gathered 10 top executives June 14 to participate in a conference call to discuss its plans for electrification and digital technologies, and how the company expects to lead those markets.

That’s a sign of confidence by the Columbus-based Fortune 200 company, which should be welcome news for local residents.

Cummins, by far the leading employer in Bartholomew County, long has been known as a diesel engine maker. However, company chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger emphasized that Cummins is really a power technology company, and one that understands the changing marketplace and is positioned to adapt quickly.

Considering that company success translates to jobs, that’s the type of confidence local economic development leaders like to hear.

Cummins leaders provided examples to illustrate steps the company is taking toward its goals. Cummins has launched a separate organization, Digital Acceleration, to take product ideas from concept to commercialization in a quicker way. And it has launched a company called ZED Connect, which develops a smartphone app that helps truckers log hours and meet new electronic requirements in the U.S.

That’s not a diesel engine, but taking knowledge and technology the company already uses in manufacturing engines and applying it in a related way. So is another initiative.

Earlier this year, Cummins also started its Electrification Business, and it expects to have a fully electrified powertrain system to market for customers by the end of 2019, and an extended-range powertrain ready for customers by 2020.

Investment in alternative fuel systems, such as electrification, and digital technology are sound strategies because of growing market demand.

Equally important, adapting to new markets and not staying vested in a limited number has benefits. That strategy has served Cummins well, particularly in the past two decades, as it has embraced more stringent emissions standards and focused on delivering products that meet them.

A healthy Cummins is important to the economic well being of Bartholomew County. Hearing how the company plans to be successful in emerging and changing markets is welcome and provides confidence about continued benefits for the community.