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Work Progressing On Jamestown Engine Plant

The sign outside the Cummins’ Jamestown Engine Plant is pictured.

Jose Samperio worked at Cummins Inc.’s Jamestown Engine Plant in the early days of the X15 engine’s production.

A lot has changed over the past two decades leading up to this week’s official launch of the X15N, the next generation of internal combustion engine from Cummins Inc.

“I started my career in Jamestown around 20 years ago and it looks nothing like it looked like when I first started my career,” said Samperio, who is now Cummins Inc.’s North America on-highway vice president working in the company’s headquarters in Columbus, Ind.

The Jamestown Engine Plant is in the midst of a $452 million interior facelift in preparation for Cummins’ X15N engine, a new offering that has already started production in Jamestown with increased production necessary in the next couple of years as tougher environmental regulations take effect. The X15N engine is the next generation of the venerable X15 engine and is the industry’s first fuel-agnostic internal combustion engine platform that leverages a range of lower carbon fuel types. The fuel-agnostic architecture of the 15-liter platform utilizes a common base engine with cylinder heads and fuel systems specifically tailored for it to use carbon-free hydrogen or biogas with up to a 90% carbon reduction. The company will also continue producing the X15 engine.

Brett Merritt, Cummins engine business president, said the investments in the Jamestown-area plant will help employees build more engines each day while the Jamestown Engine Plant will continue its role machining engine blocks. Employees are seeing new machines and equipment and a new layout for the plant.

An employee is pictured working on an engine at the Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant. Submitted photo

Jamestown will be able to produce natural gas, diesel 15-liter and in the future hydrogen engines. This next-generation engine is designed to have the capability to meet future emissions regulations beyond 2027 without the need for significant architecture changes. This investment will help the company maintain technology leadership for the next decade as it continues to fund future research and development in hydrogen and alternative fuel engines, battery electric and fuel cell powertrains.

“Even recently we’ve made some advancements in the assembly line itself,” Merritt said. “Lengthening it to lower tack time and again we get into the specifics of the manufacturing world but essentially increasing our output. We believe we’ll need more engines. We already on a daily basis make well over 450 engines a day in Jamestown. So we’ve already made investments there. Second we make machine heads and blocks. Most of that is done in Jamestown itself and we’re making a mass investment into entirely new machining for the next generation. And then we are also doing some other base componentry investment as well which will also be done in Jamestown. … What you would see today if you walked around is a lot of blocked off space, machines moving, lots of construction equipment. You will know that we’re making an investment just by watching it.”

Cummins’ Leap Day presentation served as the company’s official launch of the X15N engine, but Samperio, Merritt and Jane Beaman, Cummins global on-highway business vice president, spent much time talking about the company’s research and development into a variety of power solutions. Both company officials said diesel engines will be part of the company’s business model for some time, which is one reason to invest so heavily in the fuel agnostic X15N that can run on several different fuel depending on a customer’s needs. Diesel and natural gas are expected to be the primary propulsion for many years to come, according to Merritt, while other fuels can keep the X15N on the road for years. The billions of dollars being spent on new lines in North Carolina and Jamestown are evidence of Cummins’ officials’ belief in the viability of diesel and fuel agnostic engines in the near future while Cummins works on fuel cells and battery electric engines as well.

“I would agree,” Beaman said. “I think we’ll see diesel engines and ICE products for a very long time. But that’s the beauty of the fuel agnostic platform as well, right, is we continue to give our customers the options to select the fuels that meet their needs to perform the jobs that they need done.”

Engines are pictured inside the Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant. Submitted photo

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