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"Sustainability practices, environment friendly products, and community relations form the cornerstone of our sustainability initiatives," says Raj Menon, COO of Cummins India
Raj Menon, Chief Operating Officer of Cummins India, shares about the company’s focus on sustainability elements as also focuses the spotlight on products being launched by Cummins in India to enable energy access for rural communities and also provide affordable hybrid system to shape fuel efficiencies.
Please provide us an overview of Cummins organization in India, and which are the areas in which you are operating?
Cummins India is a part of Cummins Incorporated worldwide, which has been in existence for 90 plus years and is a $18 Billion conglomerate. Cummins’ primary focus is on design, manufacture and distribution of engines, generator sets and related technologies. We produce fuel systems, controls, air handling filtrations and emission solutions that support various applications and characteristics of diesel engines. Cummins India is a subset of what is being done by the company worldwide. In India, we operate through eight individual companies that are owned partially or wholly by Cummins Incorporated. In 2012, Cummins is celebrating 50 years of operations in this country.
What are some of the compliance norms that Cummins India adheres to in context of resource conservation/environmental sustainability?
We comply with the regular industrial norms and Government rules, ETA, Waste-water Act, Water Act, Air Act, HVAC, handling and trans-boundary rules that are regulatory in nature. We monitor these compliances on a quarterly basis.
On the environmental side, we work hard to exceed all the prescribed norms like zero-discharge from the factories, water and ambient air monitoring, noise pollution check, waste segregation and disposal etc. Our goal is to go above and beyond what these regulations call for, and be better than what just the rules ask us to be.
Does Cummins India report its environmental performance under any frameworks like CDP, GRI etc.?
The Cummins Inc. Sustainability Report, of which Cummins India is a part, is prepared in the spirit of the GRI. We take a broad approach- we think that sustainability is not just about environmental and social components. We also think about the next generation of leaders and employees, governance rules and risk management. Hence, while reporting, we consider all our stakeholders – shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees and the communities that we operate in.
What are some of the resource conservation initiatives being undertaken by Cummins India to make its operations environmentally sustainable?
Our initiatives can be categorized under 3 categories – sustainability practices, environment friendly products, and last but not the least is the governance and community relations. We embarked on building green infrastructure – one of our factories right outside of Pune was built in 2007; we used high efficiency glass and fly ash for bricks and rooftops. This factory was Gold Rated, which got us pretty excited about our environment friendly efforts. When we started the Cummins Megasite, which was inaugurated last year, we developed four factories strictly adhering to IGBC guidelines. All these factories use gray water for watering the landscape, buildings and the boundary walls have been built using the rocks from the rocky lands (that the factories are built on), and natural light sourced through large windows and is the primary source of light in most parts of the factory. We also invest in rain water harvesting, low water fixtures, motion sensors and other water conserving technologies. Along with green infrastructure, we also set aggressive targets on electricity and energy usage in the factory.
If you look at the diesel engines that we produce today, they are BS3 and BS 4 compliant, have significant low nitrous oxide and particulate emissions. These eco-friendly engines are available to our customers almost at the same price as other regular diesel engines available in the market. And, we are continuing our efforts to reduce further emissions in the diesel engines that we produce.
In addition to environmental sustainability, we also think about governance, compliance training, certification, code of conduct and good business ethics. We thrive in the environment that we operate in by engaging in a substantive manner with our business partners and communities that we operate in. As a part of corporate responsibility, we commit 2 % of our profit through the Cummins India Foundation as investment in higher education, energy and environment management, and local infrastructure development. Every employee in our factories gets 4 hours of paid time to provide voluntary service to the community.
Can you tell us about the bio fuel project that Cummins India has done in Padarwadi, India – who were your key partners in this project ? Is this rural electrification project a part of the company’s CR initiative, or is Cummins India looking at bio fuel power generation in a big way?
In 2007, Cummins Research facility, IIT Bombay, and Read Foundation (an NGO) ventured on a goal to develop a replicable rural electrification model for villages in India. We wanted to develop an engine that would use vegetable oil to generate electricity. This technology, along with using local renewable energy sources, would also keep carbon emissions in check. A similar project was also initiated in Kola, Orissa, where they grind used seeds from a local tree grown around the villages to generate power. Our real big success was in Padarwadi, where residents were growing 35 metric tons of paddy per year, but they have no way to move the rice hulks into the village. The villagers had to do 1800 annual treks across hills to get access to these rice mills, which were taking time away from other productive activities that they could have been engaging in. So we partnered with the villagers, who implemented these generator sets. Besides running the rice mills on the power that is generated from these generators; the villagers are also using the power for small domestic lighting purposes as well.
We see economic value in this, and we are partnering with a couple of organizations who want to take these generators to villages. We are still in the process of formalizing these future projects, hence can’t divulge the names of our potential partners.
What is the ReCon initiative? What is the technology/model/process for the same? Is this initiative being implemented in India?
This is a ‘green’ initiative that Cummins has been practicing for over 40 years already. Initially it started off as reconditioning, which was followed by remanufacturing of products. This initiative is based on the 3 R philosophy – reduce, reuse and recycle. The idea is to take a Cummins made product that has reached the end of life in its current form back to the factory, remanufacture it up to the final standards and sell it to the end users with full warranty. This initiative has helped us save 20 Million Kilos of landfill, and we are also presenting our customers the option to buy these ReCon products and contribute towards saving the environment.
The ReCon concept was initiated in India in 2009. However, our Indian customers are not very familiar with the concept yet. Cummins is investing a lot of resources in creating awareness and educating the customers on why ReCon products represent good value.
Last year KPIT Cummins launched the innovative REVOLO technology. Can you tell us the current status of its adoption by the industry since its launch?
REVOLO technology can be implemented on existing vehicles. We have done trials of this technology on about 800 cars so far, and now we are ready to hand this over to the production team. Our target is to complete the entire process of testing and certification within January 2012. With government support, we hope that this technology will have a rapid uptake in Indian market and will be a low cost alternative to hybrid systems all over.
What role do you think that global corporate leaders, like Cummins, can play in mainstreaming sustainability in the industry?
The first requirement is to have a whole-hearted adherence towards sustainable business practices in their own organizations. In our company, we believe to go beyond the minimum that is asked for, and do what is right for the entire community that we operate in.
Additionally, we need to set the right tone in partnering with government and communities in order to solve real life energy and environmental issues. As global leaders, we have the opportunity to educate, enforce and create technologies at less cost; that can create significant difference in the countries that we operate in.
This interview was conducted by Pramita Sen, a member of the Sustainability Outlook editorial team.