Trends in Wire
In this three part series, I will review the three questions I asked industry leaders at Interwire and the Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo. The following are trends leaders highlighted in our conversations:
Urbanization and Transportation
Lee Humphreys from Komax presented how Megatrends, such as urbanization, are impacting the industry at the Wire Processing Expo. Urbanization has increased the demand for car sharing, ridesharing and improvements of public transit systems because learning how to drive and/or owning a car is not a priority for younger generations. Lee concluded this demographic shift to the aging population and the increase in leisure time is changing transportation patterns. The aging population is traveling more often and much farther than they have in the past.
Even with a declining demand for car ownership, a preference for types of vehicles exist. Consumers have an increased interest for SUVs, crossovers and light trucks and less demand for sedans. The continued trend of connectivity in cars creates a need for lighter, thinner and higher temperature wire and cable to transmit more data. These wires are used to connect to the internet and encourage data flow in cars with high speed data links, backup cameras, parking assistance, rear seat entertainment, remote keyless entry and diagnostics. Consumers do not want to sacrifice their comfort, so cables need to be smaller and more compact to carry more information or energy. As society moves to autonomous vehicles and electric cars, there is still a need for safety devices, fast-charging systems and more charging stations.
Cable materials for Boeing and Airbus aircrafts are now built to be lighter in order to reduce weight and provide more systems in the planes, from wireless connectivity to equipment systems. There is a push to design with more sensors to indicate and resolve real time problems, helping aircrafts use more electric and less hydraulics and eliminating some motor maintenance cost. New wire technology has been added to airplane wings to help with de-icing, instead of relying on chemicals.
IoT and smart housing has presented a need for higher performance wire to be used in everyday appliances. These wires lead into systems intertwined and integrated into software that requires more bandwidth. Telecom/Data trends are involving players familiar with Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft to provide security solutions. Three drivers in this market are:
● Artificial Intelligence
● Augmented Reality
The big buzz in telecom wireless is 5G. Smart Cities are driving the need for 5G, which will be available in larger metropolitan areas first. Even though Verizon and ATT are saying they have 5G, the deployment of 5G for everyone will take longer to implement. There needs to be an upgrade to the support system such as data centers before that can happen.
Wearable biodevices are the push in the future focus of the medical field. There are diabetic monitors and pacemakers that are monitored remotely. Our aging populations have a need for device development. One of the advanced medicine has developed a biodevice the NFL uses to monitor a player’s blood on the sidelines and diagnose a concussion. The medical field has been transitioning into using lasers and robotics in the operating room. These new developments in medicine have been based on new wire designs, wire materials, connectivity, and cable assemblies.
Late 20th century manufacturing must transition and adopt modern technology and processes. There is value in developing automation for the factory floor, such as increased efficiency. Workers are, also, choosing not to attend trade school, which is causing a shortage in factory labor and forcing a dependence of robotics.
Due to a growing dependence on automation, IoT and sensors are used in plants to record data and analyze noise levels to locate a machine’s problem and determine when maintenance is required. In specialty wire, automation is needed to assemble wires too small to do by hand. There’s a demand for labeling because OEMs are using more wires in the equipment, and they need to be able to trace the wires.
The connector market is partnering with venture capitalists to invest in startups. One invested in a startup that builds robots to analyze city wastewater and measure the concentration of opioids and focus on areas with the highest concentration. Other startups are innovating and developing batteries for better and faster collection and longer storage times because of the increasing demand for electric cars and the renewable energy market.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Companies are merging and/or acquiring to broaden market share.
Everyone spoke positively about their growth and reinventing themselves. Tariffs will be the next topic discussed.
Special thanks to the following individuals who spoke with me:
Jeff Almendinger, Trans Cable International; Ted Bill, Pelican Wire; Beni Blell, Nexans; Don Dodge, Calmont Wire; Dave Hawker, Nexans; Lee Humphreys, Komax; Gene Lockhart, Electrical Components International; Brian Jenkins, Therm-O-Link; Ric Johnsen, CommScope; Josh Katzman, General Cable; Tim MacAlpine, Komax; Brian Parson, Interstate Wire; Mike Norton, Marmon Utility; Axel Schlumberger, Southwire; Kevin Sopczak, Leggett & Platt; Mark Tabor, Samtec; and Andy Zinner, Leoni
Pati Kelly is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Wire and Cable. To learn more about how she can help your company identify and attract talent, check out her biography, view her LinkedIn profile or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.