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Industry News (170)

Mathiasen Machinery, Inc. (MMI), announced that it has entered into an agreement to represent technology offered by Austria’s Wire and Cable Machinery GmbH (WiCa) in the Americas.

A press release said that MMI, based in East Haddam, Connecticut, and run by brothers Mike and Mark Mathiasen, will market and sell wire fabrication and extrusion equipment from WiCa, which is based in Punitz, Austria, to market and sell its wire fabrication and extrusion products in North, Central and South America.

WiCa manufactures wire and cable machinery that includes high-speed stranding machines, payoffs and take-ups, capstans and extrusion lines/sheathing lines. It also offers custom-made equipment for SZ-stranding, tubular stranding, and steel bow stranding, among other lines.

The release said that WiCa’s technology is designed to provide customers technology that offers precision, efficiency, safety and reliability. For more details, go online to www.mathiasen-machinery.com to access a 32-page catalog of WiCa’s full product line, or contact Mark Mathiasen.

Outside the U.S., contact Deutsch Christoph or Gassler Christian via www.wica.at.

Earlier this year, the Carbon Trust picked five winners of a dynamic export cable competition within its Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (Floating Wind JIP).

A press release said that the successful companies were Norway’s Aker Solutions, Japan’s Furukawa Electric, Greece’s Hellenic Cables, JDR Cable Systems in the U.K. and Zhongtian Technology Submarine Cable in China. The goal is to draw on the expertise of existing offshore wind cable suppliers and the oil and gas supply chain to "support the design, initial testing and development of dynamic cables ranging from 130 kV to 250 kV to enable the efficient transmission of power from floating wind turbines to shore."

The results of the first phase of the project, which will conclude in March 2020, could help to "inform subsequent project phases to support the deployment of dynamic export cables across the industry," the release said.

"The lack of dynamic export cables has been identified as a hurdle that needs to be overcome by industry to ensure the commercialization of floating wind farms, and we are excited to begin work to ensure that this technology is ready in time for commercial floating wind projects," said Carbon Trust offshore wind manager Rory Shanahan. "We are delighted with the response we got from the industry and we are looking forward to working with the five competition winners."

BPP Cables is supporting the competition, which aims to ensure that this necessary technology is a viable option for developers for commercial floating wind projects within the next five to 10 years.

At its website, the U.K.-based organization describes Carbon Trust as "an independent, expert partner of leading organizations around the world, helping them contribute to and benefit from a more sustainable future through carbon reduction, resource efficiency strategies and commercializing low carbon technologies."

In 2017, the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) initiative "launched a new global innovation competition to find and fund the development of innovative solutions to a challenge facing the offshore wind farm industry today: how to monitor the condition of subsea cables to ensure that they are not damaged during the load out and installation process. The competition seeks to identify and support the development of novel condition monitoring systems for subsea cables. "Looking at £213 million in insurance losses from 28 UK offshore wind claims between 2002 and 2015, 68% were directly due to cable faults occurring predominately during the construction phase."

voestalpine announced that the company has invested more than 18 million euros in a new pioneering high-tech steel research center in Austria.

"At its unique pilot facility in Leoben-Donawitz, Austria, voestalpine is now conducting research into the production of new high-performance steels which are subsequently processed into special rails, quality rod wire, and extremely high-resistant OCTG by the Group’s companies in Syria," a press release said. It noted that the creation of Technikum Metallurgie (TechMet), a metallurgy technical center, represents the largest such research investment at the site to date.

"Today, voestalpine generates two-thirds of Group revenue from processing steel into sophisticated components and system solutions for the global automotive, railway infrastructure, and aerospace industries," said company CEO Wolfgang Eder. "The TechMet research facility offers us entirely new opportunities to develop pioneering steel grades which are needed to ensure the high quality of our final products."

Franz Kainersdorfer, who heads the company’s Metal Engineering Division, said that the unique plant configuration is a major advance. "We have built a complete steel plant in miniature that allows us to directly transfer the results of work in the research plant to (our) major facilities."

Product development at TechMet follows a reduced carbon footprint, the release said. Electricity generated from renewables provides the power to melt the pre-materials, and this reduces CO2 emissions at the site by at least 2,800 tons each year. The core components—apart from the furnaces also a continuous caster—were supplied by a Styrian plant manufacturer based in Bruck an der Mur. The research center, 2,800 sq m, is located in a former foundry building, almost 100 years old, at the site in Leoben-Donawitz which has now been comprehensively renovated.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced that the company has consolidated its U.K. capabilities in Basingstoke to address the growing demand for testing and regulatory certification services.

A press release said that UL has made a “significant investment” in Basingstoke, which is now the organization’s largest commercial test facility in the U.K. It adds 37,000 sq ft to the current facility, tripling its size, with 15,000 sq ft dedicated to EMC and wireless testing.

UL’s EMC and Wireless certification lab now includes: four 3-meter semi-anechoic chambers; three 3-meter fully anechoic chambers; six large screened rooms; and seven DASY6 SAR systems. As technology continues to advance rapidly, new developments such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to significantly alter consumer buying habits and increase awareness of issues, including security and interoperability, the release said. “As a result, many companies are being left behind as they fail to remain relevant and meet the new standards introduced to protect consumers.” The consolidation of services in Basingstoke was driven by these market trends and by requests from UL customers for larger laboratory capacity, shorter test programs and automation, and higher frequency bands, all in one location, it said.

Through the consolidation, UL will provide a broad spectrum of certification types across multiple industries, technologies and geographies from a single location, so that as the products made by customers have to become “smarter,” the location can adapt to meet those needs, the release said. “This is an important moment in the development of UL’s compliance services in the U.K. The significant investment in new facilities will offer a one-stop service solution with state-of-the art custom-designed chambers and sourced equipment,” said Phil Davies, site leader and general manager for UL’s Consumer Technology division in the EMEA-LA region. For more details, go to www.ul.com.

Cablel® Hellenic Cables announced that it has been awarded part of an R&D tender for a Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (Floating Wind) focused on the development of high-voltage dynamic export cables for the transmission of power from floating wind farms to shore

A press release said that the project, under the auspices of Carbon Trust, is a collaborative initiative between industry partners EnBW, ENGIE, Eolfi, E.ON, Equinor, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Ørsted, ScottishPower Renewables, Shell, Vattenfall and Wpd, with support from the Scottish government. The goal is to develop commercial-scale floating wind farms, with this R&D effort representing a new technology that is a critical factor for the commercial deployment of floating wind technology.

“For this purpose, Hellenic Cables will support the design, initial testing and development of dynamic cables ranging from 130kV to 250kV to enable the efficient transmission of power from floating wind turbines to shore,” the release said. The award for the company is for the first phase of the project, due for completion in March 2020.

The cables will be made at the plant of Fulgor SA, a subsidiary of Hellenic Cables, at its plant in Soussaki, Corinth, Greece, where Fulgor is capable of making some of the world’s longest submarine cables in continuous lengths. Cablel Hellenic Cables, which is part of Belgium’s Cenergy Holdings SA, manufactures power and telecom cables as well as submarine cables. It has four plants in Greece and one in Bulgaria.

Last November, Cablel Hellenic Cables won a contract worth some 29 million euros and Fulgor a contract worth some 18 million euros to provide and install submarine and land cables in the Rio-Antirrio area for the extension of the 400kV grid towards Peloponnese, Greece. Those projects called for 18 km of six 400kV single-core submarine cables and optical fiber submarine cables, and some 42 km of 400 kV land cables for the route from the landing points of the submarine cables in Peloponnese and Central Greece.

Italy’s Prysmian Group reports that it has been awarded a major grid connection project, DolWin5, worth some €140 million, from Dutch-German grid operator TenneT.

A press release said that the TenneT project will connect multiple offshore wind farms to the German grid. It calls for “the supply, installation and commissioning of a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) 320 kV XLPE-insulated submarine and land power cable connection, with a transmission capacity of 900 MW, as well as the associated fibre optic cable system, comprising a land route of 30 km and a subsea route of 100 km.” The turnkey connections will link the offshore converter platform DolWin epsilon, located some 100 km offshore in the German North Sea, to the mainland Emden/Ost converter station, and help transmit the generated renewable energy into the German grid.

The cables will be manufactured at Prysmian Group’s plants in Pikkala, Finland, submarine, and Gron, France, land, the release said. Offshore installation activities will be performed by two Prysmian cable-laying vessels: the Cable Enterprise, for deep water installation, and the Ulisse, for shallow water activities. Completion of the project is scheduled for the middle of 2024.

“The Dolwin5 project continues our valued long relationship with the major TSO TenneT and demonstrates our ability to provide tailor-made submarine cable solutions for challenging projects, providing the offshore infrastructure needed to support the growth of clean energy in Northern Europe,” said Hakan Ozmen, EVP Projects, Prysmian Group.

The release said that the project comes “at a very important time for Prysmian,” which recently won a €200 million U.S. offshore project from Vineyard Wind, LLC.

Liberty Steel, part of the global GFG Alliance, further expanded its footprint in the U.S. steel downstream products market with the acquisition of Johnstown Wire Technologies (JWT) in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

A press release notes that JWT is the largest producer of value-added carbon and alloy wire in North America, and that the deal “gives Liberty valuable capacity to manufacture a range of high-value carbon and alloy wire products for multiple end markets including the infrastructure, automotive, utility and consumer sectors.”

The Johnstown plant, described as an advanced manufacturing facility, has some 250 employees, the release said. They will complement Liberty’s melting and rolling operations at Georgetown, South Carolina, and Peoria, Illinois. Combined with its scrap processing plant in Tampa, Florida, the acquisition “will firmly embed the business along the full value chain in the U.S. steel market.”

Liberty Steel entered the U.S. market in 2017 by acquiring ArcelorMittal’s Georgetown Steel mill and followed up with the purchase of Keystone Consolidated Industries, including its flagship Peoria mill, in 2018.

“Today’s announcement marks another major step by Liberty towards its target of quickly becoming a market leader in the American wire rod sector,” the release said. It noted that the 638,000-sq-foot Johnstown site has been a high-profile steel manufacturing facility for more than a century, and that it is a top-three U.S. producer of the types of steel that will be needed to modernize America’s aging infrastructure: CHQ, electro-galvanized, aluminized and spring wire.

JWT currently holds the number one market position in the electro-galvanized and aluminized sectors, the release said. “Liberty Steel intends to drive growth at JWT as the U.S. updates its infrastructure and electricity networks, thereby increasing demand for steel products such as support cables and guard rails for bridges and for electrical power lines.”

With more than half of JWT’s output sold into the transportation market, Liberty is also aiming to capitalize on continued growth in U.S. vehicle production, the release said. It is the third largest producer in the U.S. of CHQ wire, which is used in automotive products such as engine block bolts and brake pad rivets. The acquisition will also add substantially to Liberty’s capability to meet the “Made in America” specifications required for public infrastructure and utility contracts.

“This is another very significant step towards our ambitious U.S. goals,” said GFC Chief Investment Officer Grant Quasha. “JWT is a profitable business with a skilled workforce and tremendous pedigree in the industry, so we look forward to welcoming it into the GFG USA family and helping it build an even stronger future.”

GFG Group Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta said that he was thrilled with the deal. “The addition of high-quality specialized facilities at Johnstown further strengthens our existing facilities at Georgetown and Peoria.”

“We are excited to be joining the GFG family of global businesses and see this as a tremendous opportunity to further our position as a leading manufacturer of steel wire in North America,” said Johnstown Wire Technologies President and CEO Jack Miller.

MAC ITS LLC, founded in 1976 as Manufactured Assemblies Corporation (MAC), specializing in manufacturing cable assemblies and wire harnesses, plans to expand its headquarters location in Dayton, Ohio.

Per a report in the Dayton Business Journal, the company is proposing an expansion that would create 79 new jobs. The company, which now also makes kiosks for OEMs, was given a tax incentive for the plan worth about $200,000.

The proposed expansion involves consolidating out-of-state operations into Ohio, which is competing with Georgia and Indiana for the project. Officials says state support will help ensure the project moves forward in Vandalia. MAC also has a location in Buford, Georgia.

Manufactured Assemblies Corp. has grown its presence in the Dayton region. In 2014, the company announced a $1 million project to expand its Vandalia headquarters and add 35 new jobs. The company had 90 employees at the time.

The business has also evolved from its original core products. "In addition to making custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses, MAC has expanded its abilities into a wide range of products including but not limited to kiosks, box builds, panel boards, digital signs and other custom assemblies. MAC has established a reputation as an industry leader in contract manufacturing. We continue to expand and adapt with current technologies, providing outsourced solutions to large and small OEMs, as well as superior service and products with forward-thinking solutions to support every customer need."

Two leading international lubricant manufacturers, Metalube and H.L. Blachford Ltd., announced at Interwire 2019 that they have entered into a North American partnership.

The two companies, which exhibited together, will initially focus on selling Metalube’s high quality, nonferrous copper and aluminum wire drawing lubricants across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“This is a very exciting time for us,” said H.L. Blachford President Mike Cundari. “We have been working to develop our relationship with Metalube for some years now, and we are delighted with the exceptional quality of the nonferrous lubricants they produce. We look forward to a long and fruitful joint venture.”

H.L. Blachford is a privately owned company, founded in 1921, with production facilities in Canada, the U.S. and England. Its ferrous and nonferrous wire drawing products are sold under the trade name Chemdraw®.

“This partnership is also excellent news for Metalube,” said Metalube Commercial Director Douglas Hunt. “Blachford has a highly established presence in North America, and like us, is a privately owned family business with a similar ethos. They have superb relationships with all of the key nonferrous wire drawing producers in the region and we are highly confident that our products will be very well received here.”

Metalube is part of the Bishopdale Group, a private holding company for a group of industrial lubricants brands that include Metalube, Molyslip and UOP. It exports 95% of its production to over 90 countries worldwide and has offices in Manchester, Dubai, Mumbai, São Paulo and Shanghai. From its headquarters in Irlam, Manchester, the company has a fully integrated lubricant manufacturing facility, including new state-of-the-art laboratories.

Following failed attempts to get a £30 million government loan, British Steel was placed into “compulsory liquidation” on May 22, putting some 4,200 jobs there and 20,000 related positions at risk. Despite the official designation, the company notes at its website that it “continues to trade as normal.”

Per multiple news reports, British Steel had sought further loans from the British government to remain afloat, but did not get it. Instead, the business—which was bought in 2016 for one pound by investment firm Greybull Capital—was placed in liquidation. A government statement said there was no other option, as it “would be unlawful to provide a guarantee or loan to British Steel on the terms of any proposals that the company or any other party has made,” said Business Secretary Greg Clark.

At its website, British Steel, which has a product range that includes wire rod, notes that work continues under the oversight of  the Official Receiver “whilst a sales process is undertaken to find a new owner for our business.” Further, the company’s subsidiaries including British Steel France Rail SAS, FN Steel BV, Redcar Bulk Terminal, The Steel Company of Ireland Limited, TSP Projects Limited and TSP Engineering Limited “are not in insolvency and are continuing to trade as normal.”

Reports said that making steel profitably is particularly difficult in Britain, where steelmakers pay some of the highest green taxes and energy costs in the world and are saddled with high labor costs and business rates. However, a dominant matter remains the continuing uncertainty surrounding Britain’s planned departure from the EU. “The  whole manufacturing sector is crying out for certainty over Brexit, unable to plan the trading relationship it will have with its biggest market. We can only state again the need to avoid a no-deal scenario at all costs,” said a statement from UK Steel.

Jonathan Owens, supply chain and logistics expert at the University of Salford Business School, said that British Steel had been struggling in a very competitive market and that a new government loan may only have delayed the inevitable failure of the company.

In December 2018, the European Commission  suspended the access of British Steel to an EU program for carbon offset credits (ETS) that allowed U.K. exporters to get offset credits, citing the failure of Brexit. The U.K. government provided a large bridge loan to keep British Steel solvent, but uncertainty has hurt orders from outside the U.K. as overseas customers do not know what tariffs will apply. British Steel needs the additional funds to enable it to continue until a Brexit deal passes that can provide customers confidence as to what will happen.

Per a report in The Guardian, in 1971 the British steel industry employed 323,000 people, and that same number is now estimated at 31,900. At press time, dozens of potential buyers for British Steel have been identified.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) has imposed new duties of up to 63% on some Chinese aluminum wire and cable imports because of what was described as “price-dumping.”

Per a cited DoC statement, “(DoC) announced the affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation of imports of aluminum wire and cable from China, finding that exporters from China have dumped aluminum wire and cable in the United States at a margin of 58.51 to 63.47 percent."

Encore Wire Chairman, President and CEO Daniel Jones welcomed the decision, noting that, "These illegal trade practices have undermined our investments in aluminum wire production, which is an important complement to our market-leading copper wire business." 

A fact sheet accompanying the notice reported that U.S. imports of aluminum wire and cable from China were valued at more than $157 million in 2017. U.S. customs and border agents will begin collecting cash deposits from importers of these products at the same rates to offset unfair Chinese subsidies, the Commerce Department said.

The Trump administration, reports said, has initiated 168 investigations of unfair trade practices since taking office, more than double the number during a comparable period of the previous administration, according to the release.

LS Cable & System President & CEO Myung Roe-Hyun announced that the company has opened a new cable plant in Poland, its first production base in Europe.

A press release said that the plant is the first such one for a South Korean company in Europe, “the home of cable.” The plant produces parts for electric vehicle batteries and optical cables for communication. More than 100 people, including Cha-Yup Koo, chairman of LS Cable & System; Roe-Hyun; Lee Dong-Wook, CEO of LS C & S Poland; Dariusz Kucharski, mayor of Dzierzoniow; and Mira Sun, Korean ambassador to Poland, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“LS C & S is pushing ahead with its localization and regional base strategy,” Roe-Hyun said. “The Polish plant will serve as the key base for advancing into Europe, and transform the company into a total cable company by adding the power cable business.”
The release said that Poland has very roads and power grids, and the Polish government is known to fully support investment of foreign capital with various tax incentives. Also, the company said that the nation’s geographic location is favorable to export to other European countries and its excellent workforce availability are important reasons for selecting Poland.

LS C & S established a subsidiary that produces parts for electric vehicle batteries (LSEVP) in Poland in November 2017. LSEVP can produce parts for 300,000 electric vehicles annually, and is planning to increase supplies to European automakers starting with LG Chem in nearby Wroclaw at the end of this year.

LS C & S established its optical cable production subsidiary (LSCP) next to its LSEVP plant in February 2018 as the European optical cable market has grown rapidly. It is the third optical cable plant of LS C & S, following the plants it built in Gumi, Korea and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

LSCP began production last April and has proven that it can produce three million fiber km a year—about 7% of the European market—and has since been supplying its products to key European carriers in Italy, France, etc. With the completion of the Polish plant, LS C & S now has a total of 19 business sites at home and abroad, including nine overseas in Vietnam, China and the U.S.

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