Cummins cuts hours for 350 workers

Slowing demand has prompted Cummins Inc. to cut the work week of 350 employees at the Columbus Fuel Systems Plant to four days.

Cummins said the cutbacks will begin today, which means that 350 of the plant’s 512 Diesel Workers Union members will stay home today.

The four-day work week will remain in effect until further notice, Cummins said.

“As a result of the recent weakening global economic conditions, Cummins has been taking a number of steps over the last few months to respond appropriately and align its costs with the decreasing demand,” Cummins representatives said in an email.

Spokesman Jon Mills said the company also has reduced the work week at plants in Jamestown, N.Y., and in Brazil.

He said the company is taking the steps to minimize the effect on employees.

The Fuel Systems Plant, at 1300 N. Marr Road, ships about 70 percent of its products to other Cummins plants. That means if production at those plants slows, demand for fuel systems declines, too. The Jamestown plant, for example, produces heavy-duty engines, which use the XPI Fuel System, components for which are made at the Columbus Fuel Systems Plant.

“We will continue to monitor the changing conditions,” Cummins said.

In early September, the company instituted a global hiring freeze through at least the end of the year because of continuing global economic uncertainty.

In late August, Cummins had cut the work week of about 35 Fuel Systems Plant employees. A union official said at the time that the company can, per contract, ask employees to stay home 30 days per year without pay. Employees do not get paid for those days, meaning the current four-day work week reduces their paychecks by about 20 percent compared to a full week.

On Aug. 1, Cummins had reported a slight sales decline in the second quarter as the strength of the North American market was more than offset by weakness in overseas markets.

Sales for the Components group, which includes fuel systems, were flat at $1 billion. The company said the segment reported better results in North America and Brazil, but weaker demand in Europe and China.

Cummins’ fuel systems have played a significant role in the company’s efforts to meet ever more stringent emissions standards.

A fuel system injects fuel into the engine’s combustion chamber, which contains air that is compressed to such an extent that it ignites the fuel.

The XPI Fuel System, which can inject fuel at a pressure of 36,000 pounds per square inch, is being used on all C- (8.3-liter) and L-series (9-liter) engines. Since 2010, it also has been featured in the 11.9- and 15-liter ISX engines.

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