The cable and wire industry is intrinsic in modern life - wire and cable products are used in everything from construction to automotive manufacturing to telecom markets. To that end, given the way the global markets dropped sharply in 2020 due to the pandemic, it's no surprise that wire products were in low demand. But now that a vaccine is increasing the probability of getting the virus under control, how will that affect the industry in 2021?
2020 Is Over: Now What Was the Impact of COVID-19 on the Wire Products Market?
The global demand for wire and cable products dropped by at least 2 to 5% in the United States, Europe, and China in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was largely attributed to the temporary shut down of manufacturing plants, construction sites, and other revisions that require wire and cable products. The Chinese market, in particular, saw the sharpest downfall throughout 2020, with a record low of 35.7 PMI last February.
However, the predictions made in early 2020 were much more drastic than reality and the current industry growth is projected to be more robust than ever before. In fact, forecasts suggest that the demand for the industry will be on track again in 2021.
Future Market Projections
At the moment, the global cable and wire industry is projected to grow by 4% over the next five years, with the industry capping at least $1 billion US dollars by 2027. Much of this growth is being attributed to the new demand for green energy, including green automotive designs that will replace combustion engines by 2035 in the United States. The current growth and new demand for the industry suggest that the impact of COVID-19 was nothing more than a hiccup in the long run.
While there is no denying that the pandemic negatively impacted the wire industry in 2020, it's also true that the industry is bouncing back stronger and more in-demand than before.
2/24/20 -- Madison, Connecticut, USA – The Wire Association International (WAI), Inc. announces recent developments by its Industry 4.0 Task Force, along with the participation of Messe Düsseldorf North America, toward the introduction of an Industry 4.0 Pavilion on the Interwire 2021 exhibit floor at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The new show dates are: October 26-27, 2021.
The goal of the new venture is to establish and showcase relevant machinery, software, and process demonstrations that illustrate smart technology as it relates to the wire and cable making industry.
The space will include 12 companies half of which will represent the smart manufacturing field; the other half will showcase companies, established within the wire and cable industry, that have adopted these or other new technologies in their processes and equipment. Space among these exhibits will be dedicated to brief, scheduled demonstrations within a socially distanced theater configuration.
Following the “Industry 4.0” theme for Interwire 2021, WAI is planning an allied educational program with presentations from both the smart technology field as well as its traditional technical papers.
Commenting on the new venture, 2021 WAI President Thomas Heberling said, “WAI has a proven 90-year history of providing stellar educational experiences to the industry. This new Pavilion at Interwire will serve WAI’s mission and introduce new technology that affects our stakeholders. We are pleased to build a relationship with Messe Düsseldorf North America for a co-created Pavilion that may be repeated at future events.”
"As the U.S. subsidiary of Messe Düsseldorf, the organizer of wire Düsseldorf, we have been active in the North American market for over 30 years in the wire and cable industry and serve as a link for U.S. and international companies to access markets all over the world. This partnership on the Industry 4.0 Pavilion at Interwire 2021 with WAI is a logical continuation to open up new market opportunities, expand on the technological and educational advancements on this continent," said Tom Mitchell, President of Messe Düsseldorf North America.
The 2021 staging of Interwire will mark 40 years since its inception. Hosted biennially, Interwire is an international trade event that includes exhibiting companies, speakers, and visitors from more than 50 countries. See developing details at www.interwire21.com.
Messe Düsseldorf North America (MDNA) is the U.S. subsidiary of Messe Düsseldorf GmbH in Germany – one of the world’s largest organizers of international trade shows for the machinery, medical, retail, lifestyle and leisure industries. Their trade shows bring together market players from around the world, connecting industry leaders from small businesses to global players. With their expertise and range of services, they help exhibitors and visitors find the customers or the service and merchandise providers they are looking for. Within the Americas, MDNA organizes trade shows for the Plastics, Flow Control and Medical sectors.
The Wire Association International is a not-for-profit association with nearly 1,800 individual members in 50 countries. The association serves the educational needs of the wire and cable manufacturing industry through a variety of products and services. WAI manages the Interwire Trade Exhibition and the WAI Operations Summit & Wire Expo and publishes the Wire Journal International and the Wire Journal International Reference Guide.
Market forecasts are reliable tools that can predict shortfalls in interest and demand with relative certainty. For industries that are experiencing increasing global demand, such as the electrical wire and cable market, a forecast can give industry leaders insight into how businesses should operate to keep up with demand - particularly in terms of the wires and cables that need to be manufactured.
What Will the Electrical Wire and Cable Market Look Like in Five Years?
The wire and cable market has seen steady growth over the last five years, even with the 2020 pandemic creating a demand shortfall. But with the new quarter of 2021, it's clear that the industry is bouncing back strongly and is quickly catching up to the projections that were made previously. In fact, some forecasts indicate that demand for the industry is going to increase even more with new legislation and policy, especially in America
Big Industry Growth in America
The most recent global forecasts suggest a 4% growth in all wire and cable industry segments worldwide by 2027. In America, however, there is a much more impressive growth projection being seen. Current forecasts indicate that the American industry will grow by 8% CAGR by 2026, meaning the American market will be outperforming the global average by a significant rate.
New automotive policy legislation, which is phasing out combustion vehicles by 2035, and commitments to producing green energy and creating accessible high-speed internet are all reasons why the American market is projected to boom so dramatically.
The current trends in global cable and wire industry growth are promising, particularly in light of new engineering and construction advancements that are being pursued by global governments. There is every possibility that current market projections will increase with new industry trends.
If you're not an expert in metallurgy or ferrous metals, you're not alone. Many Americans know very little about this critically important industry. It may not be the most thrilling subject, but ferrous metal is everywhere you look: anything carbon steel, stainless steel, or cast iron fits the bill. Ferrous wire, in particular, is vital for maintaining the flow of society. It's used for fences, in airports, on highways, in construction, and in the electric industry, to name a few.
Ferrous Metal vs. Non-Ferrous Metal
Simply put, ferrous metals are magnetic and consist primarily of iron. Non-ferrous metals aren't magnetic and don't contain any iron. The high levels of carbon in ferrous metals make them susceptible to rust when exposed to moisture. The only metals that can withstand oxidation are chromium-stainless alloys and wrought iron, which is so pure it resists rust. The magnetic properties of ferrous metals make them ideal for the wire and cable industry.
Wire and Cable
Ferrous wire is just the technical term for carbon steel wire, stainless steel wire, and alloy steel wire (think welding wire or even tension bridges). Wire is incredibly versatile; it can be easily bent or coated with other materials for enhanced durability.
Principles of Metallurgy
Metallurgy is defined as the study of metal's behavior, structure, and properties. The actual process of metallurgy refers to the methods used for extracting metals in their purest form. Essentially, it refers to creating alloys and the purification of metals. These principles include:
- Roasting (heating) in the presence of oxygen
- Pulverization into powder via grinding/crushing
- A hydrolytic process that utilizes water and the settling of denser ore particles
- Separation using magnetic wheels and a rotating belt
- Separation via oil, leaving the ore as surface froth
Metals composed primarily of iron are relatively inexpensive to produce, and they're incredibly versatile—they can be fabricated to fit an array of applications. Ferrous wire is also critical to maintaining everyday life's comforts: even steel nails are manufactured with wire made using metallurgy techniques!
2/16/21 -- At the end of 2020, Mayer Braidtech GmbH merged with Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG, its former parent company.
A press release explained the details as follows. Braiding machine production and sales will be a separate division of the former parent company. With this move, the circular knitting machine manufacturer has formally completed the integration of Mayer Braidtech GmbH at the company’s Albstadt headquarters. It began in January 2019 when the production of braiding machines got under way in Albstadt. Mayer & Cie.’s sister company Mayer Industries had previously manufactured in Orangeburg, South Carolina, the braiding machines that make reinforcements for high-pressure hoses.
“By integrating Mayer Braidtech into Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG, we have formally completed a process that for us has long been accomplished on a day-to-day work basis,” said Patrick Moser, business unit manager of Mayer Braidtech and future head of Mayer & Cie.’s braiding division. The production of braiding machines in Albstadt has been under way at full capacity since the beginning of 2019; sales of the machines had long been based in Albstadt. “That is why the braiding machines are old friends, as it were, at our main factory,” he said, adding that there had been, as hoped, synergy effects of circular knitting and braiding machine production. “We definitely benefit from one another, be it in manpower, logistics or simply in sharing news and views.”
2/10/21 -- Dr. Horace Pops, the industry guru for fines and wire breaks, destroyed the association record for webinar registration for the first of his three webinars: Annealing, Jan. 27, which had to close on Friday, Jan. 22 because all 500 available slots were filled. Of note, the days that followed brought additional requests.
The two other scheduled Pops’ webinars are Fines, held February 3, and Wire Breaks, to be held today, Feb. 10. The original registration was for all three sessions, so all three are closed.
“Dr. Pops has long been known in the industry for his ability to discuss potential wire problem areas in a way that makes sense, but even we were surprised that we had to shut registration six days before it was to be held,” WAI Executive Director Steve Fetteroll said. He observed that the three webinars will be available later online to WAI members.
A prolific author of technical papers, including multiple award winners, Pops has presented at numerous WAI events over the years. He is a mainstay at WAI’s Fundamentals of Wire & Cable Manufacturing course. A WAI Past President (1992-93), he is the principal of Horace Pops Consulting, Inc.
2/10/21 -- The WAI is seeking technical papers for the Association’s technical program at Interwire 2021, which earlier this year due to Covid-19 was rescheduled from May 10-13 to Oct. 26-27.
Interwire will remain at its longtime location at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. More information will be presented about the event in future issues, including a “Prequel” of the Atlanta show in the August issue, then the full preview in the September issue.
2/10/21 -- The WAI’s Southeast Chapter was unable to hold its annual golf tournament in 2020, but its board confirmed at a recent meeting that it will issue four scholarships this year, using saved funds.
“As we come out of an uncertain time in 2020, the Southeast Board of Directors is excited to announce that the scholarship program will continue in 2021,” said Chapter President Chris McGill, Southwire. “We know there are deserving students in our community that could use the stability of this program to help them advance to the next level in their educational goals.”
The golf event, a key contributor to the chapter’s college scholarship program, also reflects a team effort. The 2019 event, held at the Rock Barn Country Club in Conover, North Carolina, was declared one of the best ever. Board members served as emcees, placed 40 sponsorship signs, managed the putting contest, photographed the event and made sure that everyone was fed and happy.
2/10/21 -- The board of the directors for the WAI’s New England Chapter met recently to discuss plans for 2021, which included the possibility of holding a technical program. Appropriately, it was a virtual meeting, as the discussion focused on how a program could best be done. The consensus was that, if it deemed possible to do this in spring, it should be similar to the Association’s Streamcast program in July 15, 2020, a WAI online first.
The Streamcast program featured 12 industry speakers. More than 400 people registered for the virtual event, which ran from 8:30 am to 2 pm on Wednesday, July 15. The final “attendee” numbers for individuals that took part was more than 250, which at the time set a record for any WAI online event.
More news will follow in a future issue as to whether there is traction for the chapter’s plans.
In other news, the chapter welcomed the addition of Jessica Foss, market development manager, Electric Cable Compounds, Inc., who will serve as its treasurer.
The chapter also named two new board members: Sean DeZalia, process engineer, EIS Wire & Cable, and Jason Ponce, product development engineer, Harbour Industries. Of note, more than half the board members are younger than 40, which those on the call agreed was a good sign.
2/10/21 -- The WAI’s Poland Chapter has rescheduled its 9th International Drawing Conference from Oct. 22, 2021, to a date in April 2022, at a new location in Poland.
The announcement from Poland Chapter President Jan W. Pilarczyk said that the plan is to now hold the event at the Hotel GALAXY in Krakow. The event date was changed due to concerns about the pandemic.
The conference will focus on modern methods of metal forming and drawing processes, and production of wire rods and wires. It is designed to serve as a gathering site for producers of carbon steel wire rod with their customers and create future cooperation for partners.
Beyond the technical program during the event, the conference will honor WAI Past President Tom Moran, a steel industry veteran, who will receive the Schneider Memorial Award, the highest honor in the Polish steel wire industry. For further and future details, go to the event website: www.msc.wip.pcz.pl.