Episode 2: Re-manufacturing, global quality standards and reincarnating diesel engines with Rumeet Mehta from Cummins.

Season 1 Episode 2, May 11, 2021


We speak to Rumeet Mehta, Global Quality Transformation Leader at Cummins about turbo engines, the incredible multiple life of engines in the re-manufacturing world and maintaining high quality standards across a global network of facilities.

Topics in this podcast

Quality control, Operator instruction, Re-manufacturing

Show Transcript

Rumeet: [Background music] Kind of natural transition from ..a .. I got to work in quality. But before I worked on quality, I gotta fix the manufacturing and make sure that they've got the right tools and training.

Siddhit [Intro]: [Background music] Pashi presents the Means of Production, a podcast about what it really takes to build, maintain, and scale the processes that produce the physical products that power our world. Every episode, we ask a manufacturing expert to walk us through the nuts and bolts of how they do their job. We explore how and why they got into manufacturing, dive deep into the hardest problems they've solved on production lines, and discuss their thoughts on what's broken in manufacturing today and how those things can be fixed. This podcast is hosted by Siddhit Sanghavi, Pashi's US Manufacturing Operations Lead, and former assembly engineer at Ford Motor Company.

Welcome to season one, episode two. With us today, is Rumeet Mehta, the Global Quality Transformation Leader at Cummins, and a very good friend of mine, so I'm very excited for you to be here. But before we get started with our podcast a quick disclaimer.

Rumeet: Sure, hi guys, I'm Rumeet Mehta, I go by Riggi as well. I work at Cummins and this is my own opinion of whatever I talk over here and not opinion of Cummins. I'm not a spokesperson for Cummins official or otherwise.

Siddhit: Thanks Rumeet, so that really boring stuff out of the way. Firstly, what are you doing these days, what's happening? How is work at Cummins and how is life in general? Let's start there.

Rumeet: Yeah, the work at Cummins, we are still all working remotely and due to the pandemic. Now of course the manufacturing sites, they all have to go and follow the protocols or the COVID-19 protocols and wear masks but folks like me who could work remotely, we are all working remotely. One of the thing is with travel is certainly would want to go to travel different manufacturing sites and then see the improvements we are implementing there but unfortunately, due to it depends on there's a travel restriction. But hopefully once everyone's vaccinated, so that's the light at the end of the tunnel, I've actually personally got my first shot already, I got Pfizer and I'll be getting a second shock maybe in a few weeks. It's opened up to everybody now over the age of, I want to say 18 or which is a good thing. But in general we are adapting to the new work-life, working from home, and also teaching the kids from home, they all remote school, virtual school, so just adopting the new way of life.

Siddhit: No, that's fantastic and I think that's what everyone's trying to do. And manufacturing is even more difficult because it's not something that is naturally digital. It's very in-person, it's very physical and traveling is, is like a real thing where you don't have everything in the same office or facility. So that is just an added level of difficulty to an already difficult field, right?

Rumeet: Absolutely.

Siddhit: So let's get down to the questions, I'm always very excited about the questions because I always get great conversations. So the first question is how did you get into engine manufacturing, Cummins or just this whole industry in general, how did you get here?

Rumeet: Well, I mean, it all starts with what you pick as your major in college, it gets determined at that point. So I picked mechanical engineering, not industrial, but yeah, for mechanical, I did a specialization in turbo machinery. So from Turbo machinery rotor dynamics was what I got my master's in and through there Cummins does make turbos. So it was just directly from college. I was able to get a job at Cummins and move here to Indiana. And then once you start a Cummins, we have six business units, so we moved from one role to the other role, explore different fields. Right? So I went from application engineering to product engineering, to engine, now from turbo, I went into the actual engine, the core engine business unit. Went into that and the handling of other components of air handling, right? I mean, turbo is a big part, but there are others as well. Yeah, I got into that, got into being defining; the engineering standard works for certain components. From there led a team of engineers to solve warranty problems that was going from working on future products to supporting current products and reducing warranty problems. From there, I got a chance to work on a five liter engine that was pretty neat. It was at the Columbus engine plant in Columbus, of course, Cummins engine plant, or Columbus engine plant. We made the five liter engines over there for Nissan and yeah, that was a pretty good experience working on the...well, it was the manufacturing with the assembly, it was the machining. We had everything over there at the plant, so it was a pretty neat experience. And then after that, I got my black belt certification worked on completely outside of engineering now. Different fields, projects, of course we had some engineering projects too. And then finally, now what I do is I lead the quality transformation for BU and for quality transformation one of the foundations is Israeli to make sure that manufacturing is robust, right? The manufacturing has that infrastructure.

Siddhit: Yes, absolutely.

Rumeet: Yeah, so kind of natural transition from, but yes, I got to work on quality but before I work on quality, I got to fix the manufacturing and make sure that they've got the right tools and training. It almost a year and a half ago, I went to our, we call it the master rebuilt centers. So this is remanufacturing is where I really get involved in and I was visiting, this was in Antofagasta in Chile.

Siddhit: Rumeet, I just want to interrupt you. So firstly for our audiences, when Rumeet says, black belt he's talking about Six Sigma Black Belt. and second. Rumeet, can you explain what remanufacturing is?

Rumeet: Yeah, so we design and manufacture engines for several applications, right which include mining, construction, power gen? So when we do supply the engines to our customers, we also provide a service saying, hey, once the engine has seen its first life, we'll take that engine back from you and we will rebuild it, right? We will change the components that do need to change; we would reuse, and then rebuild that engine and give a second life to that. So that's what we do and then we remanufacture those engines and specifically the engines that the majority of the bigger, larger sizes are higher displacement. So like 78 liters or 60 leally large engines that get used in mining application and construction and those kinds of things. So yeah, re-manufacturing is just basically your manufacturer, your first time and you're go and you're dismantling the whole tearing down the engine, cleaning it, inspecting it, verifying that it, Even back and putting it together, rebuilding the whole thing and of course testing it.

Siddhit: Cool, please go on with the rest of the answer, where you were explaining that you started working with quality in remanufacturing and then.

Rumeet: Yeah, so after visiting some of the sites and this was in Antofagasta in Chile and folks there certainly, since it's remanufacturing, they don't have that core product engineering strength there. So a lot of the folks had not heard about the seven step problem solving or the PFMEA. those kinds of tools that we use in the, in manufacturing and in six Sigma.

Siddhit: So the seven step problem solving method, so I've known DMAIC, as one of the methods, is the seven step process something that Cummins has, or is it something more general.

Rumeet: I mean, I've worked with a lot of suppliers and seven steps is, I mean, some people call it 8D as well.

Siddhit: Yeah.

Rumeet: 8D is same thing as seven steps, so it's just this systematic approach of understanding what the assignable cause is and doing a fault tree analysis or five eyes, or depending on however you want to, whatever is required to solve that problem. But yeah, that's that seven step is one of the things we do commonly use that Cummins.

Siddhit: Cool, thank you and guys, I will link to some of the terms and the techniques that, that drumbeat is mentioning in the show notes and give you resources to do some articles explaining that. So those are very, very interesting things in the field of quality management.

Rumeet: So yeah, those are then knowing that folks were not exposed to those types of tools in my next a day and a half, I spent just training the folks over there on seven step.

Siddhit:Oh, wow, okay.

Rumeet: And then of course we started the PFMA too, right? What can go wrong right in rebuilding that engine? There was no PFMA that existed, process, failure mode effect analysis just didn't exist. And I mean, again, this is remanufacturing and a lot of the remanufacturing could be that we have either acquired it or it's a joint venture. So it's not all from the get-go Cummins, so we have to go and introduce the way we work at a lot of these sites. So yeah, and then kicked off a PFMA that went on for almost a month because there were so many things that were there. And of course you got to do remotely, right? And those folks are firefighting, so you don't get that much time throughout the day to kind of work on it. So yeah, it gets pretty interesting how every site is different, how every site's skillsets are different, what tools they have, you could vastly vary infrastructure that they could have. It could be a huge difference in what one, we call it MRCs master rebuild centers because we knew all those, well, they are not high volume, but for us they would be high volume. I mean, not, but together they could vary a significantly as to what tools they have on infrastructure. They have their, their skillset, the knowledge, product engineering piece, all that,

Siddhit: That just sounds like a challenge, just imagining it because you're going to Chile and the language is different. And you have these guys from corporate coming in and I'm showing you the process. I'm sure, it must have been a lot of change management on everyone's part too, to learn the new process and learn how Cummins does its thing. So I can imagine that to be like a very exciting or challenging project, but thanks for that great answer. I think it was pretty good, you showed, like how you went from the mechanical, very technical turbo side all the way to something that requires a lot of process management, so that was a great path there.

Rumeet: Yeah, so that's how I got to what I'm doing right now, it's just interesting to kind of teach the folks how we would manufacture the engine from a first fit standpoint. And really our goal is how do we bring them, how do we bring remanufacturing to a standard where we have our first fit manufacturing? That's our journey right now.

Siddhit: I see, so you want to bring it to the same level of standards and quality as the first time it's manufactured.

Rumeet: Absolutely, because that's what our customer expects.

Siddhit: Correct, and you already have a lot of established protocol and documentation a bit though, so that would be a natural step for you to do. So when I was working at Ford Motor Company, they used to call this campaign, like a campaign line, it was usually reserved for four giant, like recalls and warranty issues. It wasn't so much as the repair, but they did have a reman facility in some other plants that I had not worked in and yeah, this is very similar to this. But we had a campaign line for, for that kind of thing, but that was more like bad news kind of kind of line.

Rumeet: Yeah, so the difference here is that this whole facility is designed to that a hundred people on the shop floor and it's designed only for, to get, and I mean, we don't call these campaign. These are, they have seen their useful life and now it's the core, we call it the dirty core that comes in. And then it's essentially the full thing is about remanufacturing. I see what you're saying, like a lot of the first few have like repair line or campaign line. And sometimes they do have these campaigns that they have to bring a lot of engines back in to do those fixings. But some of these engines, they have not failed in the field, it's just, they have seen, whatever 20,000 hours or wherever we draw the line for that specific application, specific customer, we bring it back because you don't want the downtime for our customers.

Siddhit: No, I'm glad you made the distinction. So that definitely clears this clear impression, I had, I thought this was like all of it, but this is more the engines that have already finished their life. They're, not faulty in any way, or they are not returns in any way, they're more like ready for a second life

Rumeet: Second life, yes.

Siddhit: That speaks to the durability of Cummins engines.

Rumeet: And we just don't do one, I mean it can be three times, four times.

Siddhit: Wow, that's it is incredible, like a return on one piece of equipment, it's fantastic.

Rumeet: Because one engine could be up to, $500,000. So they are not cheap engines going and a buying new every time, could be really expensive for their customers. So they try and manufacture it, but even remanufacturing is not cheap, but still a little cheaper compared to the sort of brand new engine.

Siddhit: No, that is very fascinating and you had mentioned this before, but can you say again, if you are allowed to where these engines go, what is that feel application, what are they used in?

Rumeet: A Good chunk of arm, especially the high horsepower, again, it's a mix of power gen, mining, construction, railway, locomotive. So it's a variety of applications, but I think a lot of, like currently mining is pretty big. So a lot of these would be at a mine site and they could be those huge haul trucks where the wheel size is literally 12 feet. So you look real tiny when standing in front of that one giant wheel.

Siddhit: Oh, wow, I've seen those on documentaries. Wow, that's incredible.

Rumeet: Those are huge haul trucks and yeah, they could have like a 50, 60, or even a hundred haul trucks at one mine site. And then for shovels, those kinds of things, so they've got a huge list of applications where these engines can be deployed,

Siddhit: As an industrial engineer and assembly engineer, I'm almost like trying to imagine moving this on a line. This must be massive and slow and it must be a challenge to work on just because of the size.

Rumeet: Yeah, it is exactly. I mean, some of these engines can have a large size, like 12 turbos on one engine.

Siddhit: Wow.

Rumeet: Yeah, they're massive. Yeah, I mean, it does take us time to rebuild it. Some of these could take up to a month to fully rebuild the engine.

Siddhit: It's almost like restoration, you could call it, right.

Rumeet: Yeah.

Siddhit: t's almost like that, it's slow, it's very careful, and it’s taking something that you don't want to completely replace, but you wanted to replace the stuff that has been worn out while, while keeping the very durable core, I guess, just tuning it and just making it a new again. So very, very interesting, so thanks Rumeet and I want to get into like, and since it's full of challenges. I guess, it's natural to ask what is the hardest problem you faced in this field? It doesn't have to be just field; anytime and how did you solve it? So you just walk us through as if you were about to solve it, like you're going to work or whatever and you saw this.

Rumeet: I mean the hardest problem, there are several problems. I don't think there's one hardest problem and I mean few problems that I can talk about. One is infrastructure that I talked about, that a lot of these are, since it's not first fit, it's remanufacturing. In a lot of sites, we may have acquired or maybe joint ventures and they don't have the infrastructure from a manufacturing standpoint. They may not have like manufacturing execution system, like MES. They may not have access to bombs, bill of materials or access to PLM, product, and lifecycle management. So, yeah, I mean, again, it's all boils down to infrastructure that if they don't have the right infrastructure, then they struggle. I mean, and so that's something that we have taken on and we are working on improving the infrastructure, providing them with the right tool set, right skillset with MES. So we are deploying those types of tools in several sites globally right now.

Siddhit: nd here, I just like to tell the audience that many people call this many different things, but in general, a manufacturing execution system is like basically a computerized system that is used to track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods across a plant or several plants or across several lines. And that is what Rumeet is talking about, and he's deeply involved with that. Considering all the changes he wants to bring about in dream or wherever these things are not yet in place. So that is what he refers to when he says manufacturing execution system.

Rumeet: Yeah, because it helps in capturing the genealogy of that engine. Otherwise you don't have that genealogy; you don't have that recipe of what you actually built with. What are those, if you really want to track our serial numbers, you want to track the batch codes, it just gets really challenging without an MES. And also the field saves to capture defects; you're going to utilize the MES for several uses of it. So, it's got huge benefits and certainly all our first fits, we've got MES that are 20 plus first fit sites. But yeah, I think now we are just taking it to our manufacturing sites as well. So I think the other challenges are also time zone. That's a challenge that I sometimes run into.

Siddhit: Because it's such a company.

Rumeet: Because we have support sites in India, sites in Australia, in China and Mongolia and then of course here in North America, Chile, Peru, and South Africa. But now how do we bring all those people at the same time on a call when we want to talk about problems or talk about solutions or brainstorming. I mean, you've got to split them up or I have late evening calls or sometimes early morning calls. So that's certainly, time zone is challenge and then languages is a challenge too. Now you're building the same engine in all these locations and the work instructions is in English. And the folks, let's say in Mongolia, or let's say in Latin America, they may have a problem reading that. So we've got to translate it to Spanish, so yeah, I mean, we certainly a lot of challenges there as well, time zones languages. But no, we've got to tackle all the challenges, it's how do we make sure that we meet all our customer needs in every part of the world. Right. And we have to do translations, we have to do training, we take that on. So those are the few challenges I would say that we are seeing.

Siddhit: Great, so the quality team that you are involved with would not only do things like the MES but would also do more training stuff or do documentations, so all of that comes kind of under this purview.

Rumeet: Yes, that's right. We have a training call this evening and we are bringing in folks from North America and Australia. So hence we got to pick an evening slot 8:00 or 7:00 to 8:00 PM. But yeah, I mean, training is a big aspect, so you got to keep training them, keep making sure again, how the governance is a big challenge too. How do you make sure that folks adhere to that new process, certainly you could go and deploy that, but if you haven't trained the folks how to use the tools, it's not going to be successful? So change management is definitely big as well, so yeah.

Siddhit: Yeah, thank you so much. I think those are very real problems and I did not know Cummins was so widespread across so many times zones like Mongolia and Chile are just on the other sides of the planet. And also this speaks to the, I guess, a centralization of quality in Cummins, which is really good. Oftentimes what we see is manufacturing companies having splintering quality standards ingroups, and everyone is doing their version of quality. And it's great that you guys are well, at least for the reman part or whatever it is, it's pretty centralized and you're driving the changes from the same spot. It's a lot more difficult, but the documentation and the standard stay consistent.

Rumeet: Absolutely.

Siddhit: That is a huge work that has to be done to achieve that.

Rumeet: Absolutely, and even for first fit, we do that. We make sure that the same standards; same functional excellence practices are followed. We call it FTPs, yeah, so again, it's globalization or how do we have global standards, for quality, for manufacturing, such that we can, because our customers are same way. They are not local; we got global customers too, so they expect the same quality from each and every region.

Siddhit: Right, absolutely and the way Cummins is positioned as a brand, that is what people are really looking for, extreme durability, very high quality and Cummins has done well to get that out there and make people aware of this. So then you got to follow through with, with that kind of excellent quality, no matter what location or what economics it is, you guys got to make it work. So I can see how that is such an important focus area for Cummins. Let's, move on to the last question, which is not actually the last question, there's a fun surprise question. If you had a magic wand to change something about your work within reason, of course, what would that be and why?

Rumeet: One thing about my work, so since I interact with so many folks like globally on daily basis. I think, the magic one would be if in an instant, if I can travel to that location, that would be ultimate. I mean, just one of the things that happened, like even local travel, for example, Denver was one of the places where we have a master rebuild center and I brought in more folks to support the work that I'm doing. And kind of how do you in the middle of a pandemic, how do you take them to that site and show them what they're doing over there. So we have to do a video live, a tour video, walking video, kind of audio video, audio tour, but we knew it had been so much nicer, if I was like, okay, let's just do a day trip and be there and let's do a tour in person right, versus on zoom. So I mean, certainly zoom and all definitely helps, but I think that that's a yeah.

Siddhit: With manufacturing, it's not the same.

Rumeet: Yeah, exactly.

Siddhit: You need to smell the grease and the fluid in the air.

Rumeet: Triple black shellac, we call it.

Siddhit: Yeah

Rumeet: Yeah, It could be depending on but, exactly. So that's, that's, that's one of the things I would say is to be able to do, and I'm pretty sure we would be there one day. Of course, this pandemic is not helping, but even after that, I think the travel times and those kinds of things will get lot faster travel ways will certainly help manufacturing.

Siddhit: Well, actually the last part of your answer is like a hint to the next question, because you mentioned that we will get better traveling and better remote collaboration and work methods. [Cross-Talking26:08] as well and manufacturing companies are pushing hard on AR as much as others are. As much as like gaming or stuff, manufacturers are pushing quite hard on AR and I'm sure Cummins is also. So due to that, the fun question is that if this were 2051, how would a factory be if you walked into it or how would like your grandchild seeing the factory of 2051.

Rumeet: Factory of 2051, maybe that's manufacturing 10.0. Yeah, I think, certainly it would be at a whole different level of automation. We would be working more on the robotics at that point in the product, because now we have mastered that, hey, once the robotics designing and all that is such that, hey, once this is solid then product quality and the tolerances that we get are, are now so much tighter and we know exactly what we are making. I think we'll be spending some more time on making sure that the machinery and the tools and all that is actually working the way they should to make sure that we meet the quality standards and the manufacturing standards. Yeah, I mean, I think that's all this augmented reality, you would be all at that different level. We won't have to go and visit the plant; we would actually have that plant come to us. We would be able to see that right in front of us.

Siddhit: Right, like a hologram.

Rumeet: Yeah, like a hologram, yes. I mean, I think that's what it may boil down to, it's a lot more automation. And in fact, we may even find by then we may not be even making engines, who know. We might be doing other types of ways of providing energy and Cummins is doing that as well. It's not just a diesel engine for us, there are a whole lot of different types of engines and sources that we, work on, fuel sources. Yeah, I think 2051, certainly manufacturing is going to be around, it's not going to go away, we got to manufacture things. Maybe a lot would be from a 3d printing standpoint, they might be able to find a lot cheaper ways to print things, rather than going to suppliers for getting those parts, there will be a lot more 3d printers in the space of manufacturing no

Siddhit: Like common things that mining company could just print at their place and they don't have to like to go to a dealership. Probably not the core engine or whatever, but at least like a lot of the other tubing or wiring or what have you could easily be 3d printed in the future. So part of that is happening right now.

Rumeet: Absolutely, yeah.

Siddhit: But we usually use it for prototyping, not for production parts, but hey, if that's possible, this is possible. So absolutely, I think that was a very good answer, you spoke about AR and VR, different people, they have different visions of the factory of the future and AR and VR certainly hoped to be a big part of it, the problem is they're not moving fast enough, but we all want them to.

Rumeet: Right, and I mean, that's the thing, it takes time to get a specific site onboarded onto a certain set of tools and the training and change management and investments, and then justifying those investments too. So yeah, it certainly takes time, but I think we are on the journey. So I think by 2051, a lot would have changed for sure.

Siddhit: Cool, well, thank you so much Rumeet. I think this is a great conversation, you gave some great responses and we got to know a lot about remanufacturing. We came to know how sprawling its facilities are, Cummins facilities and the important work that you do in maintaining manufacturing quality and just the whole important aspect of traceability. And this is where I just want to speak a little bit about Pashi, that genealogy is extremely important and Pashi provides live genealogy logs that are fully traceable. And the traceability is information in terms of which device and which diameter of product interacts with is displayed in a continuously upended log and timestamped. So you always have a record of what that product has gone through throughout its life and this is also what a good MES or any good MES should be doing. It should provide that kind of transparency for something that might come back to your plant after like three years or five years. And you should be able to trace it back to the point of fault because it could lead to other things that you may have overlooked and it could have been other things that had gone wrong at that point in time. So it's super important also just saying it to the listeners that for any MES you want their traceability and quality management system to be very, very robust.

Rumeet: Yep, no, I completely agree. Makes sense. Yep. Yeah.

Siddhit: Well, thank you to me for giving your time and answering some great questions and just catching up.

Rumeet: Yeah, it was great talking to you guys.

Siddhit: I learne more about your work that I should have known. We never talk about your actually work.

Rumeet: yI know, we never do that, that's good.

Siddhit: So thanks for teaching us about how the manufacturing books and have a great day and we'll meet soon.

Rumeet: Alright, sounds good, take care.

Siddhit: Bye. Bye.

Siddhit [Outro]: [Background music] If you enjoyed this conversation, please subscribe to the Means Of Production Podcast, for more stories from people behind all the manufactured goods we use, love, and depend on. This episode was made possible by Pashi, the operating system for manufacturing. Pashi unifies the entire production process for any product encompassing operational instruction and data into interfaces, stage logic, impediment thresholding, machine interfacing and configuration through port programming and coordination and stage to stage production flow control into a single Pashi program. Check us out at pashi.com and until we meet again, have a fantastic day, and take care.

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