In an effort to highlight an accomplished contributor to equipment manufacturing industry product safety and compliance, AEM recently sat down with Josh Inman, director of restricted substances and product disclosure for Cummins, Inc.

Inman touched on his personal and professional background, his path to the equipment manufacturing industry and his responsibilities within it, as well as his involvement with AEM.

AEM: It seems like everyone takes a different path to get to the industry. What was yours, and how did you end up where you are today with Cummins?

Inman: I’ve been in manufacturing my whole career. My parents worked at a factory when I was growing, and I eventually worked at the same factory they did. I started out running a stamping press when I was in college, and then eventually graduated to driving a forklift.

My employer was kind enough to hire me into a salaried role, which was kind of a surprise, and I agreed to finish my degree in electronics engineering. All in all, I ended up staying with the company for 10 years, and they helped see me through four degrees. I contributed in a variety of roles there – starting on the shop floor running the stamping press before graduating to being in the quality organization, shop floor supervisor, and then ultimately to purchasing within the organization. It was a great experience.

AEM: Can you tell us a little bit about what you do now as Director of Restricted Substances and Product Disclosure for Cummins and what that role entails?

Inman: I was hired on at Cummins in 2008, after about 10 years at Schneider Electric. My first role at Cummins was in corporate purchasing. Then, in 2013, I took a role leading what was formally called the company’s materials compliance group. At the time, it was a group of one. Since then, we’ve grown into a larger organization. We now have about seven employees, and we reside within the technical function. And our charge is to know where materials came from, ensure our obligations are met in terms of restrictive substance controls, and then deploying those controls across the company – globally. And ultimately, our job is to make sure our product meets customer regulatory requirements as they relate to the materials that comprise our product. The goal is to ensure we maintain market access, and so do our customers.

AEM: What is your involvement with AEM? And can you tell me a little bit about initiatives or association efforts you’ve been involved in or helped support?

Inman: I’m involved in a couple of ways. I currently co-chair AEM’s Regulatory Compliance Steering Committee - Substances (RCSC). The group has grown from less than a handful to, now, more than 60 active members. I’ll give you an example of something we’re working on. Last year, there were 500 new or amended non-emissions regulations that affect our industry. It’s way more than any single manufacturer can keep its eye on, let alone understand completely. We want to make sure there’s a common understanding, that we’re aware of what’s out there, and that we can collaborate on an understanding of what the requirements are and what are industry needs to meet those requirements.

The other way is through the Sustainability Council, which is a relatively new thing and just over a year old. They really go hand-in-glove. The group, as its name implies, deals with matters of making our products more sustainable and providing information to our supply chain so they can join us in the efforts. And the regulations we deal with are sort of combining with the sustainability efforts globally. You see it all over. There’s an increased awareness because of the waste generated from our products. Look at packaging, plastic or electronics. In those three areas, in particular, more new material is being generated than there is capacity to recycle it. There’s a problem with waste, and we need to make sure that waste isn’t going to cause harm to the environment – and are as recyclable as possible. We really need to be ahead of this.

AEM: How has your involvement with AEM impacted your role with Cummins in a positive way? And how has it impacted the company as a whole in a positive way?

Inman: AEM has helped serve as a connector for us. We have stronger relationships with our peers and our customers, and we’re more in tune with what our customers want, and we’ve been more efficient in our interpretation of regulatory requirements. AEM has also helped be a connector globally between other trade organizations. We’ve collaborated pretty deeply with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), CECE, just to name a few. Those connections are deeper and more fruitful in terms of advocacy efforts than we would have ever had had it not been for AEM.

AEM: You mentioned you’ve been with Cummins now for over a decade. What about your particular role with the company – or even just being involved with the industry motivates you at this point or has you excited about the present and future of the industry?

Inman: I would say it’s the level of innovation. I work for a company known for its diesel engine manufacturing. But the reality is we have products to suit every market. We have advanced diesel technology, we make electrified power and we also have a hydrogen business. It doesn’t matter what the market is, it doesn’t matter what the region is, it doesn’t matter what the emerging technology is for any given application, we have a product for that market. The thing that I really like about this company – and the industry as a whole – is how much innovation is happening.

AEM: It’s an exciting time to be in manufacturing. A lot is happening, a lot is changing, and a lot is on the horizon. If you could give a piece of advice to a young person entering manufacturing, and maybe involved in similar types of work you’re involved in, what would it be?

Inman: When you’re learning a new role, it’s easy to get entrenched in the details of whatever is happening. The reality is, however, not to lose sight of the importance of the products we bring to market. And it’s our obligation to make sure those products are safe while they are in use, make sure the materials come from conflict-free regions, are sourced responsibly and are products are sustainable for the long term to support the circular economy, to leave a light environmental footprint. That’s a really big task when you think about it, but we need to be up for the challenge.

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