Tackling logistics in a crisis

By Ian Cameron23 March 2021

Cummins outlines the challenge of component and material shortages in the industry

The impact of COVID-19, coupled with severe storms, was a key message from a senior Cummins executive who has highlighted their impact on manufacturing.

Eric Neal, Executive Director of Cummins Off-Highway, also said “We have a lot of competing components. There have been articles around the electronics industries and control modules, ECM and ECUs within on-highway and light passenger vehicles.

“A lot of the same microchips are used in areas whether it be a pick-up truck, a television or even a diesel engine and we are now competing for the same amount of capacity and that was unforecasted.

“In North America a month ago there was a pretty major winter storm in the south part of the United States and that shut down several suppliers and that has also created a big blip for us.

“There are the normal logistical challenges with COVID which is that shipping ports right now are very delayed. The protocol for safety and health has been escalated which has slowed things coming into port and there is material sitting at ports that they can’t get off the ships and processed to manufacturers.

“It has been a massive, massive issue in the industry, we have not got throughout unscathed but from Cummins’ perspective the fact that we do have a global network of manufacturing plants and global suppliers we have been able to shift some of our supply around and try to maintain a reasonable amount of continuity than some have in the rest of the industry.

In a presentation to the press Neal also highlighted the growing trend of downsizing in the engine industry.

“As an example, historically a 20-tonne excavator – the mainstream engine for that was a 6.7 L. Now in the last couple of years more OEMs are starting to use four-cylinder products instead of six-cylinder products in that same application. There are two reasons. Firstly, the vehicle efficiencies have got better but from and engine perspective we are getting a lot more performance and robustness from smaller packages.”

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