Global Team Leadership Award

Global Cummins Electronics Electrical Design and Components Engineering

Cummins Inc.

For intentional and effective global communications; for leading cross-functional global engineering and technical teams to mitigate loss and increase productivity; and for creating a supportive working environment to achieve success.

The COVID-19 pandemic that began in late 2019 disrupted major industries and suppliers, particularly those that developed and distributed electronics components such as microchips, microprocessors, sensors, electronic control units, and obsolete part replacements. Cummins Inc., headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, was among the many industries and markets that experienced global supply disruption, which has affected both first fit and aftermarket parts. These shortages were extremely prevalent in 2021, causing a worldwide domino effect as companies dealt with transportation delays, logistic challenges, port congestion, and restricted movement in some regions. Additionally, increased customer demands for product volumes increased the pressure on the already constrained supply base.

Cummins is a global corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute, and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. Among the company’s products are diesel, natural gas, electric and hybrid powertrains, batteries, and fuel cells. Cummins needed to quickly adapt teams and processes across the globe to focus on electronics components shortages.

To respond to the crisis, the Cummins Electronics Technical Foundation Team, led by director Michelle Darling, an electrical engineering specialist; along with leader Ishani Mahadeshwar, an electronics and telecommunications specialist; and senior manager Xiaorui He, a measurement technology and instrumentation specialist, collaborated to provide coordinated support from the U.S., India, and China, respectively, and to complete all activities necessary to protect product build schedules while maintaining robust circuit designs. They leveraged their broad engineering and leadership experience to ensure the teams within the regions were communicating, prioritizing, and collaborating to expedite these shortages and minimize a major loss of revenue.

Darling, along with team leaders, had to escalate mitigation efforts to keep production going in the short term while simultaneously understanding what new processes might be needed in the future. They also had to support employees during a time of heightened fear, lockdowns, periods of isolation, and an uncertain future. Darling acknowledged individual staff for their achievements to help them feel appreciated and motivated.

The team also included electronics design and development engineers Dattatray K. Narute, Hemant Chipade, and Anand Jarudkar of Cummins India; technical hardware specialist Bo Han of Cummins China; and electronic system and obsolesce specialist Miguel Gonzalez of Cummins U.S. Their diverse knowledge and capabilities allowed team members to propose solutions for alternative parts and second source suppliers, plus conduct circuit analysis and testing to substantiate those choices.

Among their accomplishments were: shifting the team structure to ensure global cross-training and collaboration; implementing new processes to create a quick responding, lean team to handle immediate critical shortage issues; and establishing a change control board to review and approve the use of replacement components in production, define the counterfeit avoidance strategy, and create tools and templates to ensure authentic, high-quality parts were sourced and tracked.

Darling and her colleagues in India and China established dedicated sites across the regions involving staff with supply and demand intelligence. This enabled staff to assess needs and implement solutions that support global electronic control unit manufacturing plants.