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Industry News

On Dec. 3, the Wire & Cable Manufacturers Alliance (WCMA), hosted its first Virtual Presentation and Annual Meeting, with the below wrapup provided by Executive Director Ed Fenton.

The event included a presentation by John Traynor, executive vice president and chief investment officer, Peoples Bank Wealth Management. A frequent WCMA speaker, he returned to cover key economic, political, and manufacturing topics that will impact the industry during 2021. That included expectations for business growth drivers and what to expect from Washington and from the private equity community. He confirmed what WCMA has reported during the Covid-19 crisis: manufacturing segments, other than the significantly impacted oil/gas and commercial aerospace industries, will finish the year somewhat better than expected. That should be followed by a healthy recovery over the next year, or two, assuming vaccines are in place and effective.

Two individual management presentations were also made. “Cycles in Metal Market Prices,” by John Gross, JE Gross Consulting/The Copper Journal, and “Simplifying Supply Chains: More Important Now Than Ever,” by Mike Kelley, Kelley Productivity Partners. WCMA will schedule a specific follow up by Kelley during Q1 2021 for more details about his topic.

Participants who were able to take part in the virtual event considered the content valuable for their 2021 planning. WCMA has lost revenue dues to events not being able to be held, but dues from members has made it possible for the organization to continue to send charity donations to Toys for Tots and UCONN Health Center Cancer research, as well as scholarship donations to WAI’s Wire Foundation, IWCS and the Copper Club.

WCMA welcomed four new members: Encore Wire, Electrolock, Trans Cable Internatoional, and Quantum Design. The WCMA’s board of directors also approved an extension of Director and Officer terms through 2021 because of the pandemic.

Finally, WCMA is still hoping to be able to hold its Distinguished Career Awards dinner on April 17, and its Annual Golf Outing and Fundraiser (date TBD). Visit www.wcmainc.org, where details will be provided as soon as they become available.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Amphenol Corp. announced that it is acquiring Eden Prairie-based sensor manufacturer MTS Systems Corp. in a deal valued at $1.7 billion.

A press release said that the deal was approved by the boards of both companies. With $895 million in revenue last year, MTS is the 30th largest public company in Minnesota, according to Business Journal research. Amphenol had 2019 sales of $8.2 billion.

MTS is organized into two business segments: sensors, and test and simulation. Amphenol said the acquisition will give it the industry’s broadest range of sensors and sensor-based products, while the test and simulation segment has near and long-term potential.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Italy’s Danieli has received an order from Russian steelmaker AO Severstal for a new rolling mill for special steels to be installed at its plant in Cerepovec.

A press release said the new plant will produce 5.5 to 32-mm wire rod and coiled bars for engineering and automotive industries, and 8 to 16-mm quenched rebar for construction purposes. Danieli will provide all the technological equipment, automation and advisory services. A Danieli Centro Combustion walking beam reheating furnace will bring to rolling temperature 12-m-long, 150-mm square-billets, at a pace of 170 tph. A single-strand high-speed roughing mill made of horizontal and vertical housingless stands will feed two independent wire rod lines and a garret coiler to produce the bigger diameters. Startup is planned for by the end of 2022.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Bekaert and Almasa recently agreed to merge Proalco SAS, a Bekaert subsidiary, with the steel wire activities of Almasa SA, both of which are located in Colombia.

A press release said that the partnership intends to create value by combining expertise and resources in offering existing and new steel wire products and solutions to the market. With manufacturing activities in the center and on the Atlantic coast of Colombia, the merger will promote employment, enable export opportunities and facilitate the supply of upholstery steel wire for Bekaert’s recently established mattress spring systems joint venture, Agro-Bekaert Colombia SAS, located in Malambo, Atlantico.

Bekaert Ideal Holding (in which Bekaert holds 80% of the shares) and Almasa SA would each hold 50% in Proalco SAS after the merger. SAS generated €65 million in revenue in 2019.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Oden Technologies and Rockwell Automation announced that they have entered a partnership that will benefit both companies.

“This relationship will empower manufacturers to make real-time, data-driven decisions like never before, and truly thrive in an ever-evolving market scenario,” a press release said. “By combining Rockwell’s comprehensive suite of industrial automation services and Oden’s turnkey, AI-powered technology, we’re excited to offer end-to-end solutions to help clients continuously stay agile, boost profits, cut costs and reduce scrap. Oden has found common ground in both Rockwell’s incredible domain expertise and in our values, work ethic, and joint vision of an agile and future-ready manufacturing industry.”

The news follows another partnership deal entered into by Oden Technologies last September with Litmus, “the Intelligent Edge Computing company.” A press release said that together, the two companies “offer a turnkey solution for Smart Manufacturing including out-of-the-box data acquisition from any machine, advanced analytics and machine learning to drive greater production efficiency.”

Litmus Edge provides the data intelligence platform to quickly collect, normalize and analyze high volumes of live data from industrial assets and make them available to OT and IT systems via edge-to-enterprise integration. Oden provides big data compute engine and machine learning, real-time and predictive process metrics.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) announced that it has made an affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of standard steel welded wire mesh from Mexico.

A press release said that exporters/producers from Mexico will receive countervailable subsidies at rates ranging from 1.02 to 102.09%. DoC will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of standard steel welded wire mesh from Mexico based on the preliminary rates noted above. In 2019, imports of standard steel welded wire mesh from Mexico were valued at approximately $46.7 million.

The petitioners were Insteel Industries Inc., Mid-South Wire Company, National Wire LLC, Oklahoma Steel & Wire Co. and Wire Mesh Corp.

DoC is scheduled to announce its final determination in this case on or about Feb. 11, 2021. If it makes an affirmative final determination, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will make its final injury determination on or about March 29, 2021.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Italy’s Danieli announced winning two orders for wire rod mills from two separate companies in Turkey.

A press release said that one of the orders is from İÇDAŞ ÇELİK Enerji Tersane ve Ulaşım Sana (İÇDAŞ) for its plant in Biga, Turkey. İÇDAŞ has two other Danieli wire rod lines at the site that have been in operation since 2005. The manufacturer is investing to increase its market share of wire rod coils, and to add more advanced steel grades to its product portfolio. It is designed to produce a wide range of steel grades, inclusive of welding wire, high carbon, cold heading, bearing steel, spring steel, free cutting and alloyed steels, at rolling speeds up to 110 m/sec. Line startup is scheduled for the second quarter of 2021.

The new line includes a ten-pass fast finishing block with the latest technology Multidrives (M2®) configuration; Danieli Structure Control (DSC®) water cooling line; and four-pass reducing and sizing Twin Module Block (TMB®) equipped with an individual drive control system. The vertical coil-compactor will be supplied by specialist Swedish Sund-Birsta, part of Danieli Group.

The second order is from Habaş Sınai ve Tibbi Gazlar İstihsal Endüstrisi, which ordered a new Danieli wire rod line, slab caster electrical and automation system, along with technological packages to be installed in the company’s Aliaga steelmaking plant. The wire rod line will produce a wide range of steel grades/products—and medium-carbon steel, welding wire, high-carbon and PC wire and reinforcement steel—at a maximum rolling speed of 110 m/sec. Startup is scheduled for the third quarter of 2021.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

NKT reports that it has become the first major power cable manufacturer to join an initiative to become a net-zero emissions company.

A press release said that NKT has already committed to annually reducing its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5%, in line with the Paris climate agreement to keep global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. “Now, the company commits to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) with the aim to set its net-zero deadline as soon as possible, with 2050 as the ultimate close.” To that end, the company commits to reduce its CO2 emissions by 5% on average annually.

“I am proud that we are the first major power cable manufacturer to commit to this verified and approved method for responsible climate actions, and it is a strong signal to our stakeholders that we are fully committed to accelerate the sustainability journey,” said NKT President & CEO Alexander Kara. He noted that last year, the company announced that all its power cable plants will run on electricity from renewable energy sources, reducing CO2 emissions from its annual energy consumption by 66%, or over 48,000 tons compared to 2019.

Separately, NKT runs several decarbonization initiatives, including reduction of fuel consumption and dedicated projects to increase the energy efficiency of the cable manufacturing industry. It also recycles materials such as XLPE and metals from the production of power cables, which helps reduce emissions from traditional waste management.

The SBTi is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature. Over 1,000 companies have committed to set science-based emissions reduction targets.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) announced that it has made affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of prestressed concrete steel wire strand (PC strand) from Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of PC strand from Turkey.

A press release said that the exporters from the countries listed below have dumped PC strand in the United States at the following rates: Argentina, 60.40%; Colombia, 86.09%; Egypt, 29.72%; the Netherlands, 30.86%; Saudi Arabia, 194.40%; Taiwan, 23.89%; Turkey, 53.65%; and UAE, 170.65%. DoC also determined that exporters from Turkey received countervailable subsidies at rates ranging from 30.78% to 158.44%.

The petitioners were Insteel Wire Products Company, Sumiden Wire Products Corporation and Wire Mesh Corporation.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) was scheduled to make its final injury determinations on or about Jan. 21, 2021. If it upholds the findings, DoC will issue AD and CVD orders. DoC is also conducting concurrent AD investigations of PC strand from Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, and Ukraine. Final determinations are set for April 6.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Sweden’s Hexatronic Group AB reports that it has won orders for submarine cable with a total value of approximately $8 million.

A press release said that Hexatronic Cables & Interconnect Systems AB, a subsidiary of Hexatronic Group AB, concluded several agreements for fiber optic submarine cable from unnamed new customers in Europe. Deliveries are planned to be completed in 2021. “We are very happy with the agreements, which (are) proof of the market’s confidence in our broad offering in submarine cable,” said Hexatronic Group AB CEO Henrik Larsson Lyon.

The company also recently reported the completion of a majority acquisition of Qubix SpA, an Italian supplier of structured cabling for telecommunication infrastructure in buildings and on campuses. Its products include optical cables for high fire risk environments. It offers structured copper cabling solutions under the CCS® brand.

A press release said that Euromicron Holding GmbH sold the 90% it owns of Qubix for approximately €14.4 million. Qubix was established in 2001 as a spin-off of a cable manufacturer. Its founder and general manager, Filippo Gnocco, will continue in his current position and remain a minority shareholder with 10% of the shares. Most of Qubix’s sales are in the Italian market, and it generated an EBITDA of €3.8 million in the last 12 months.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Brazil’s Gerdau SA announced through a subsidiary, Gerdau Aços Longos, that it has completed the acquisition of long steel producer Siderúrgica Latino Americana (Silat) from the Spanish group Hierros Añón, securing final approval from Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence (Cade). The purchase of 96.35% of Silat carried a value of approximately $111 million.

A press release said that the Silat acquisition is part of a long-term effort to define the organization’s strategy in the years ahead, reinforcing its position in the steel value chain through investments and acquisitions. The deal is also a strategic expansion opportunity in the Northeast, since the company already has an industrial unit in Ceará, in the city of Maracanaú.

Silat has 233 employees (its own and third parties), and has an annual installed rolling capacity of 600 thousand tons and an expanded plant capable of producing 100 thousand tons each year. Focused on the civil construction sector, the company has since 2012 been in Ceará, where it produces rebar, welded mesh, steel mesh and trusses.

“This acquisition is a project with good potential for Gerdau, which should contribute to the development of a culture of innovation in the company,” said Marcos Faraco, vice president of Gerdau Aços Brasil, Argentina and Uruguay.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

Prysmian SpA and one of its subsidiaries have commenced proceedings for patent infringement in the U.K. High Court against Emtelle UK Limited (Emtelle), claiming it has infringed two of its patents. The action follows prior legal actions.

A press release said that Prysmian, and its U.K. subsidiary, believe that Emtelle’s FibreFlow products infringe the U.K. designations of Prysmian’s European Patents EP (UK) 1,420,279 B1 and EP (UK) 1,668,392B1 patents for fiber optic cables. Emtelle has not issued a response to the claims.

“The Group has undertaken intense R&D activities and major investments over the years, and our telecom cables can now boast the industry record for fibre count and density, with many innovative patents filed in the field of optical cables and related technologies,” said Philippe Vanhille, EVP of Telecom Business at Prysmian Group. “For this reason, we are more and more attentive to protecting our technology and investment against any unauthorized use of our patents.”

Prysmian previously filed a similar action in Germany last July against a competitor company related to the unauthorized use of its European Patents EP1668392 B1 (EP ‘392) and EP 2390700 B1 (EP ‘700).

The EP ‘392 patent relates to telecommunication optical cables, and in particular to a telecommunication optical cable with a highly reduced diameter. The patent relates its 288-fiber ezMICRODUCT cable, which uses a 200-micron fiber, which enables the cable to have an outer diameter of only 8 mm. The cable’s design includes 24 fibers per tube, making the fibers easier to identify and fit into standard splicing trays, according to the company. The fiber cable will operate in the -40°F to 158°F temperature range. A company announcement noted that the technology allowed just 24 fibers to be needed per tube. The second patent, EP ‘700, relates to optical fiber telecommunications cables, particularly an optimized stranded optical cable design using bundled cable units.

Last modified on January 4, 2021

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