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The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has fined cable manufacturers a total of approximately $127,000 for indulging in deceptive marketing practices.

Per an article in Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest most widely read English-language newspaper, the commission conducted an inquiry against 18 cable manufacturers. They were alleged to have inserted cash and coupons inside the bundle packs of electric wire that did not disclose what was inside. CCP noted that these practices only benefited electricians who generally open the packs and ended up deceiving end consumers who ultimately pay for the value of the coupons without being aware of it.

The CCP inquiry ruled that the behavior had been done by the following manufacturers: Dawn Cables, GM Cables, Fast Cable, Hitech English Cables, Pak Muzaffar Cable, Alfa Plus Wire Cable, Hi Ace English Cable, Gold Royal Cable, Zafar Cable, Nation Cable, Puller Cable, Welcome Cables, Dewan Cables, E-Flux Cables, Hero Cable, Falcon Cable, Lear Cables and Rana Cables. The companies admitted their involvement during the hearings for the charges, which stem back to 2016.

Fast Cables and GM Cables were each fined approximately $70,700, with the test of the fines split between the other 16 companies. There was no explanation for the difference. The insertion of a coupon was a violation of Section 10 as the products lack a reasonable basis related to the price printed for the consumer. All the companies were also directed to take out ads in English and Urdu newspapers informing the public about the presence and price value of coupons.

 Leoni reports that it will join Relayr—an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) company that provides complete solutions for risk-free digital transformations—for joint development work on linking intelligent cable and automation systems with innovative IoT technologies.

A press release said that the initiative will be aimed at enabling carmakers and their suppliers to reduce unplanned downtime of robotic manufacturing lines and raising production efficiency thereby improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). “Leoni and relayr will be jointly developing and providing an intelligent solution for predictive maintenance and monitoring of robot lines in car manufacturing based on the LEONiQ technology and relayr’s IoT portfolio,” it said. The research will look provide plant operators “ongoing and deeper insight into the critical areas and components of the whole line.” Initial test installations will begin as early as this year.

Leoni will provide its intelligent, IoT-enabled energy and data management on robot lines, related data analysis skills, and automotive automation and processes knowledge while relayr will contribute its know-how in IoT technology, data analysis and process optimization in industrial production.

The U.S. Commerce Department (DoC) has made a preliminary affirmative determination in its countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of aluminum wire and cable from China, setting subsidy rates up to 164% for one manufacturer.

Per DoC, on April 2 the agency issued its findings in the investigation that had been petitioned last September by Encore Wire Corporation and Southwire Company. DoC is scheduled to announce its final determination on or about August 13, 2019. If that also is affirmative, and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) makes an affirmative final determination that imports of aluminum wire and cable from China "materially injures, or threatens material injury to, the domestic industry," Commerce will issue a CVD order. The ITC is scheduled to make its final injury determination approximately 45 days after Commerce issues its final determination, if affirmative.

DoC assigned a preliminary subsidy rate of 15.77% to mandatory respondent Shanghai Silin Special Equipment Co., Ltd.; 11.57% to mandatory respondent Chanfeng Wire & Cable Co., Ltd.; and 164.16%—based entirely on adverse facts available—to mandatory respondent Shanghai Yang Pu Qu Gong. The rate for all other Chinese producers and exporters is 13.67%.

"Encore supports the U.S. Government’s ongoing antidumping and CVD investigations because we believe that illegally dumped and subsidized aluminum wire from China has undermined our investments in aluminum wire production to complement our market-leading copper building wire business," said Encore Wire Chairman, President and CEO Daniel Jones. He called the preliminary decision "a positive development and an important step toward restoring a level playing field."

The scope of the investigation covers aluminum wire and cable, which is defined as an assembly of one or more electrical conductors made from 8000 Series Aluminum Alloys (defined in accordance with ASTM B800), Aluminum Alloy 1350 (defined in accordance with ASTM B230/B230M or B609/B609M), and/or Aluminum Alloy 6201 (defined in accordance with ASTM B398/B398M), provided that: (1) at least one of the electrical conductors is insulated; (2) each insulated electrical conductor has a voltage rating greater than 80 volts and not exceeding 1000 volts; and (3) at least one electrical conductor is stranded and has a size not less than 16.5 thousand circular mil (kcmil) and not greater than 1000 kcmil. The assembly may: (1) include a grounding or neutral conductor; (2) be clad with aluminum, steel, or other base metal; or (3) include a steel support center wire, one or more connectors, a tape shield, a jacket or other covering, and/or filler materials.

Bekaert announced that it is taking wide-ranging steps to improve the company’s competitiveness that will include downsizing in Belgium—where it is based—cutting operational costs and shifting some operations and activities to be more cost-effective.

"We want to organize ourselves in a more agile and cost-efficient way," said a press release that noted that margins have suffered to where action is called for. It outlined steps in three areas.

The first calls for relocating some activities in Belgium to lower-cost locations. Those include: moving the production-related standard test lab activities to production plants that have a global service role; moving the spare parts activities to Slovakia, close to Bekart’s main production plants in Central Europe; and moving certain pilot line developments and upscaling pilot developments to industrialization. These activities would be located in the relevant "key learning plants" to speed up the development and time to bring product and process innovations to market.

The second step relates to the very competitive nature of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) market for steel fibers in the European concrete reinforcement market, the release said. Because competitors have moved their manufacturing footprint to Central Europe or are sourcing fibers from low-cost countries, Bekaert’s Dramix® plant in Moen, Belgium, is not competitive with the current pricing trends in EMEA. As such, Bekaert will close the Moen plant and further upscale Dramix production at its plant in Petrovice, Czech Republic.

The third step is "to reduce certain activities and align them better with the business needs and the new organizational structure of the Group," the release said. This would include a downsizing of administrative and other support roles "by better leveraging the potential of standardization, centralization, outsourcing and relocation." As a result, the engineering, technology and functional departments in Belgium will focus "much more on their respective, global expertise roles and act as strategic business partners. They will be helping the business with the capability to deliver on the short- and long-term goals."

The release said that implementing the described actions "will improve our competitive position in the market place worldwide by significantly reducing our cost structure, which will help improve the financial performance of the Group sustainably."

The restructuring would affect 281 jobs in Belgium. Per a report in flandsersnews.be, the job losses include 70 at Moen, outside Zwevegem; a further 44 in Zwevegem itself; 106 in Deerlijk; and 61 in Ingelmuntser.

The MAREA transatlantic subsea cable, the result of a joint effort between Facebook and Microsoft, achieved a record data transfer speed of 26.2 Tbps on a pair of its fiber optic cables during an experiment.

A press release said that the experiment yielded a sizeable increase in the theoretical maximum as it was previously thought that the maximum transfer rate per fiber pair was 20 Tbps. In 2016, Facebook and Microsoft joined forces to build and deploy the highest-capacity undersea cable in history, dubbed the MAREA cable. The cable spans from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain, and had a design capacity of 160 Tbps, with each of the line’s eight fiber optic pairs capable of 20 Tbps.

A recent experiment using 16 QAM modulation saw the transatlantic cable achieve a data transfer rate of 26.2 Tbps on one of the fiber pairs, the release said. The MAREA cable, which was designed to help meet increasing demand for high-speed connections to the cloud, was able to reach these transfer rates with no physical modifications to the line. "This is significant because it suggests that other undersea lines may be able to achieve speed upgrades without having to spend hundreds of millions on laying new cable," it said.

The release noted that average MAREA cable transfer rates are now "only" 9.5 Tbps, so the record speeds are still in the experimental stage.