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Cummins: Powering a New Water Strategy

In late 2011, global power systems manufacturer Cummins began developing a comprehensive water management strategy, recognizing water as a rising global challenge, especially in key emerging markets such as India. The company already had a robust climate and energy efficiency strategy, but recognized that the approach taken with energy couldn’t be directly applied to water.

In late 2011, global power systems manufacturer Cummins began developing a comprehensive water management strategy, recognizing water as a rising global challenge, especially in key emerging markets such as India. The company already had a robust climate and energy efficiency strategy, but recognized that the approach taken with energy couldn’t be directly applied to water. “Water issues are highly complex and different in every region,” notes Todd Swingle, Environmental Manager at Cummins. “The economics for water efficiency are much more challenging than for energy – we needed to take a different approach.”

Working with the Antea Group, the Cummins team used the Ceres Aqua Gauge framework as a first step in the strategy development process.  The framework helped guide Cummins in assessing the maturity of its existing water management programs, identifying potential gaps, and considering future goals.

Using the Aqua Gauge, Cummins evaluated its portfolio of diverse business units -- each with different geographic representation, processes, supply chains, risks, and strengths. “We were able to see where we stood along the maturity spectrum and then visualize where we wanted to go,” recalls Swingle.

“The Aqua Gauge provided a flexible yet comprehensive view of the facets of water management, helping us frame our discussions to prioritize actions into a logical roadmap that fit our business.”- Todd Swingle

Moving forward, Cummins' water management program will focus on four priority areas: 1) water conservation, 2) operations risks, 3) supply chain risks, and 4) community alignment. Recognizing the local nature of water issues, Cummins plans to prioritize initiatives using a watershed approach, a process that has already begun with the launch of deeper analysis for select facilities in high water stress areas.

“We are very pleased to be one of the first industrial companies to use Ceres’ Aqua Gauge tool,” says Swingle, “and we intend to continue using the framework as we further formalize our water management programs and goals.” As part of its newly launched cross-functional sustainability committee, Cummins expects to publically release broad sustainability goals later in 2013, including formalized water management goals related to both its operations and supply chain.

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