Cummins celebrates 70-year milestone in UK

Cummins is celebrating 70 years of business in the UK this year, a platinum anniversary representing a significant milestone in the story of modern British industry.
Ancillary Equipment / June 21, 2022
By Guy Woodford
A Cummins UK service van today

From the rebuilding of a war-torn nation to pioneering work on clean and sustainable new energy solutions, Cummins has been a welcome and reassuring presence in the UK for a wide range of sectors, including construction, bus, truck, rail, marine and power generation.

Cummins is a giant in power solutions and the world's largest independent engine manufacturer. The Indiana, U.S.-based company celebrated its centenary in 2019 and has always looked to the UK as one of its most important overseas markets.

It was in the 1950s that Cummins Diesel Sales and Service was formed as a subsidiary of the official importer Blackwood Hodge; at that time, one of the largest sales and services organisations for civil engineering machine equipment in the world, formally becoming an independent distributor for Cummins Inc.

Blackwood Hodge, Northampton
Blackwood Hodge, Northampton

Cummins Diesel Sales and Service also provided a service for off-road applications and manufacturers that were not represented by Blackwood Hodge – the likes of Michigan, Manitowoc, O&K, Ingersoll Rand and Atlas Copco.

Blackwood Hodge had been founded by serial entrepreneurs John Blackwood and Niall Hodge in 1938, initially specialising in agricultural machinery. Within four years, the partners had sold the company to Bernard Sunley, who would go on to become a legendary figure in the post-war reconstruction of Britain.

Blackwood Hodge scoured the ravaged cities of Europe for discarded trucks and heavy equipment, much of it being U.S. Army equipment, to bring back to the old Hunsbury Hill ironworks in Northampton in the U.K. There, the machinery would be fixed and readied for a new lease of life in earthmoving and construction projects.

In the late 1940s, Bernard Sunley acquired the agency for Euclid whose 15-ton dump trucks were ideally suited to the heavy-duty work required to put Britain back on her feet. Before long, Euclid, another U.S.-based business, was opening a factory in Newhouse, near Motherwell, Scotland.

Euclid's off-road haulers came with either Cummins or General Motors power options. The positive feedback from Blackwood Hodge engineers on the Cummins diesels led to Bernard Sunley opening negotiations about an official distributorship.

The association with Cummins was duly started in 1952, the year the 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth ascended the British throne.

In 1956, four years into Blackwood Hodge's stewardship of the brand in the U.K., Cummins formed Cummins Engine Company Ltd and opened a factory in Shotts, halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and close to the Euclid plant.

CDS&S Cumbernauld workshop
Cummins Sales & Service Cumbernauld workshop

The Wren's Nest site was Cummins' first manufacturing facility outside of the United States. It led to an increasing number of truck manufacturers offering NH and NT engines, and among the early adopters were Seddon Atkinson, ERF, Foden, Guy and Scammell.

In 1965, Cummins opened its Darlington plant in northern England and started production of the 'Small Vee' family of V6 and V8 diesel engines. Twenty years later, production switched to the Mid-Range engines, and in January 2022, Darlington manufactured its 1.5 millionth Mid-Range engine, a 5.9-litre unit destined to be installed in a Hyundai HX220S excavator in Ulsan, South Korea.

Cummins' other UK manufacturing facility is at Daventry in the Midlands. It opened in the early 1970s to build the K-series and other heavy industrial engines, which today serve the power generation, marine, mining and rail sectors.

CDS&S Wellingborough service centre in the mid 1970s
Cummins Diesel Sales & Service, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire in the mid 1970s

In 1984, Cummins stepped in to support the growing breadth of installations beyond Blackwood Hodge's original remit. This made Cummins Diesel Sales and Service a Cummins-owned distributor and established as Cummins Diesel, to later be renamed Cummins UK in 2004. The company set about building a nationwide network to sell and service Cummins-branded products and provide broader solutions such as maintenance contracts, engineering services, engine overhauls and rebuilds and customised integrated products.

Today, Cummins UK supports the vital infrastructure that keeps the UK moving from the public transport network through Cummins powered buses and trains to the construction industry delivering the best total cost of ownership to customers as well as providing essential service support to hospital, data centres and other major businesses powered by our Cummins generator sets.

Experts in its field, Cummins UK has more than 60 experienced service technicians operating across the country with an expanding dealer network delivering support to customers wherever they are.

"We're proud of our network and the coverage we offer," said Ali Baynes, director - regional leader UK & Ireland. "Local presence is so important to us because it guarantees a face-to-face relationship wherever our products are operating, ensuring our customers have fast access to reliable service, engineering expertise and parts support."

Construction is a sector that remains close to Cummins' heart. Cummins' focus is to provide dependable power and service to meet quarry and construction site demands.
"Throughout our history, Cummins has always been driven to meet customer requirements through its comprehensive, high-quality products and services that maximise uptime and deliver the best total cost of ownership for our customers," explains Leighton Walker, general manager – aftermarket sales UK & Ireland.

On display (stand X13) at the Hillhead 2022 exhibition near Buxton, England, visitors will see Cummins' latest Performance Series engines that range from 55 to 503kW and are available in displacements from 3.8 to 15 litres. Easy to install and cost-effective to run, they deliver high power density in simpler and lighter configurations, allowing manufacturers to increase machine capability or potentially save cost through engine downsizing.

Cummins engines are also available as power units. They can be supplied with a cooling system, exhaust aftertreatment, air cleaner and mounting feet in a ready-made package to reduce engineering costs. The addition of single and dual REPTO capability makes them ideal for crushing, screening, pumping, craning and compressor use.

Focusing on the customer, Cummins aims to keep their projects running on time and on budget. Using the best tools with the most advanced technology, highly skilled service technicians are trained to help customers deliver high equipment uptime and identify opportunities to improve product performance and offer the best total cost of ownership.

Connectivity is one of the key enablers in improving operational efficiency and reducing the cost of ownership for machines on construction sites.

"With sites operating mixed fleets, managers need a solution that is compatible across all of their machinery. We, at Cummins, are integrating our engines' digital capabilities into established OEM systems and offering our own customer-focused solutions compatible with key telematics service providers," says Chris Brown, director - aftermarket development & channel management for Cummins Distribution Europe.

Brown continues: "When combined with our comprehensive aftermarket support, Cummins Connected Solutions can positively impact the customer experience through boosting asset utilisation and availability​, improving service response times​ and increasing operational efficiency while reducing running costs."

This is partnered with Cummins offering comprehensive cover through their service support plans that concentrates on delivering uptime, maintaining product performance and driving down the total cost of ownership. Focusing on delivering high-quality service support to our customers and working in partnership with equipment OEMs and dealers.

"Cummins powers more types of equipment in more markets than any other engine company, and that positions us well as we roll out a new range of alternative solutions, including natural gas, hydrogen and electric. Wherever the technology lands, the Cummins UK team will be ready to support its customer in the expert way it has for the last 70 years," concluded Brown.


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