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MD ELEKTRONIK, based in Waldkraiburg, Germany, announced that it plans to invest $12.7 million in a new plant for making automotive cables in Vratsa, Bulgaria.

Per media reports, the company said that plans to build a production plant near Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. There, the new entity, to be called MD ELEKTRONIK EOOD, will make data cables and electronic components. Production is expected to start in 2020, and will create some 300 new jobs.

"The location in Bulgaria and the associated increase in flexibility play an important strategic role in our global production network, in particular, for our customers in Europe," said Ralf Eckert, a member of the company’s management board. The Bulgaria location was selected for the good educational level, its central location, well-established infrastructure and logistical framework conditions, the company reported. The plant is in an industrial area that is close to the border with Romania, a busy area for numerous automotive manufacturers and system suppliers.

MD ELEKTRONIK also reported that it is expanding its Waldkraiburg campus, where it has begun construction of a new technology center with a total floor area of some 4,400 sq m. The completion and commissioning of the building are planned for 2019. This follows prior growth activity, which in 2015 saw MD ELEKTRONIK GmbH open sales offices in the U.S. and China. To strengthen its presence in the NAFTA area, it also founded MD ELEKTRONIK de México S. de R.L. de C.V. in 2015 and built a new plant in León (Mexico) that opened in 2016.

Mid Continent Steel & Wire has been granted most of its requested exceptions to trade tariffs of 25% imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) on steel wire from Mexico.

Per DoC and multiple media reports, the Missouri-based nail manufacturer—which is owned by Mexico-based Deacero—is the largest nail maker in the U.S. Prior to the impositions of the tariffs on June 1, 2018, the company had 500 employees, but went to less than 300 because it lost some 60% of business. With the majority of the requested exemptions approved, the company is now recalling some 50 employees.

Per Mid Continent, exemptions from Section 232 tariffs are rarely approved, which made the decision especially good news. "This is a great day for our workers, our customers, for Southeast Missouri, and for U.S. manufacturing," said Operations General Manager Chris Pratt. "We knew from the start that we qualified for the exclusions. Now, we can focus on making Magnum, the best nails in the world, here in Poplar Bluff, Missouri."

While Mid Continent can once again ramp up production, the company notes that the relief is only good for one year, so it will have to seek further exemptions. Pratt said the company cut about 60 temporary jobs and more than 140 other workers left over concerns about job security and were not replaced.

Last October, U.K.-based BT Cables Ltd., formerly a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc, was sold to the Wilms Group and renamed British Cables Company Limited (BCC). Under either name, the company has continued to be an industry standout, having now won the President’s Award 14 years in a row in the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards, a key U.K. recognition program.

“We are delighted to have once again been awarded the prestigious President’s Award from RoSPA,” Managing Director Kevin Samuel said in a press release. “This award proves that we are succeeding.”

Regarding the acquisition, Samuel described it in a prior press release as “one of the most positive developments in the company’s long history.” He noted that the Wilms Group is the biggest privately owned cable group in Europe, with more than 70 companies, some 7,500 employees and annual revenues exceeding 1.5 billion euros. British Cable Company will continue to be based in Blackley, Manchester. It has been operational for more than 120 years.

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.

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