Cummins recognizes employees for innovation

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Employees responsible for helping position Cummins Inc. as a technology leader in diesel engine emissions controls and in electronic service tools have been recognized with 2008 Dr. Julius P. Perr Innovation Awards.

In all, nine employees were honored in 2008 for their work on two different inventions. This award celebrates and recognizes employees who embody the innovative spirit of the late Dr. Julius Perr, a longtime technological leader at Cummins, and whose inventions significantly benefit the company, the industry or the environment.

“There is a wealth of innovation inside the worldwide technical communities of Cummins, and these inventions further exemplify a sampling of our innovative technologies delivering value to our customers,” says J. Bruce Schelkopf, chief global intellectual property counsel for the Columbus, Ind.-based company.

The team of Paul Miller and Chuan He invented an equivalence ratio-based system for controlling transient fueling in an internal combustion engine. This invention, also known as oxygen/fuel control, met the goal of creating a fundamentally and physically sound basis for transient particulate matter (PM) emissions control, while facilitating robust oxides of nitrogen and PM emissions compliance with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) technology.

EGR technology is at the heart of emissions control for many of Cummins’ diesel engines used in on-highway applications. The benefit has been a consistent emissions control method over multiple product cycles with no need to reinvent, even as engine air handling, combustion and aftertreatment system architectures have evolved considerably since the original invention.

The QuickCheck product line that started in 2000 positioned Cummins as a technology leader in electronic service tools. With QuickCheck, Cummins provides an affordable, portable handheld computer-based system to collect, display and analyze data from an electronic diesel engine. The primary alternative for collecting this information at the time was a laptop computer with multiple cable connections and an add-on data link adapter to translate the data into a PC-readable format. This option was costly, time-consuming and cumbersome.

The team — comprised of Andy Pajakowski, Jon Krutulis, Alex Knight, Michael Phillips, Michael Kimball, Lee Shipman and Joe Beitzinger — selected Palm PDA (personal digital assistant) as the platform for QuickCheck because of the wide availability, ease of use, low cost and portability of this product. They created hardware and software that worked with off-the-shelf Palm PDAs.

The data collected from the engines with QuickCheck is helpful in diagnosing failures, tracking vehicle usage, scheduling maintenance/repairs and correcting problems before the actual failure occurs. Once the QuickCheck adapter and appropriate interface cable are plugged into the vehicle data collection port, engine data can be viewed in real time or saved for downloading onto a personal computer at a later time. More than 17,000 QuickCheck units have been sold as of mid-2008. The QuickCheck product line continues today, with the Windows CE-based lead-free QuickCheck 5100 handheld computer.

“These inventions have played a significant role in satisfying our customers’ needs and meeting the stringent emissions requirements,” says John Wall, vice president and chief technical officer. “This type of ingenuity paves the way for future inventions that will ensure Cummins’ place as an industry leader in technology.”