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Wire Journal News

By Steve Fetteroll, executive director
2022 was a step forward for the industry. In early June, WAI held Wire Expo 2022 in Dallas. It was a joyous return to a live event, and later that same month, WAI was in Germany for wire Dusseldorf. In October, the U.K. Clockwinder was finally at the Madison headquarters after two years of a virtual winder. New staff was added, and volunteers and staff pivoted, working on Wire Expo and Interwire 2023. Now, the 2023 mix will include two international technical conferences in Mexico and Italy. All in all, it was a good year.

The return to a live WAI event
Numbers are only part of a story. When the WAI Operations Summit & Wire Expo 2022 (Wire Expo) was held in June, the event did not set records attendance-wise, but it was one of the Association’s most memorable trade shows ever. Attendees were thrilled to be in Dallas, Texas, and the memories of the prior two years that saw cancellations of Wire Expo 2020 and Interwire 2021 were finally able to fade.
It was painful to lose both of those events to Covid, but behind the scenes WAI volunteers and staff were busy. Ably led by 2020 WAI President Jan Sørige and 2021 WAI President Thomas Heberling, the focus was on not just creating virtual programming, but targeting themes that would relate to industry challenges and concerns. That mindset continued with 2022 WAI President James York, who took a very active role throughout the year in developing the content.
Even before York welcomed attendees the opening day, there was a positive buzz. More seats had to be added, and the enthusiasm continued during presentations that featured speakers that included Encore Wire Vice President of Sales Kevin Heffernan and Prysmian Group North America Chief Procurement Officer Brian Schulties.
The opening of the trade show that followed was memorable. It was as if there had never been a two-year gap. Attendees mingled with exhibitors, and engaged conversations ensued. It confirmed once again how and why people talking to people face-to-face matters so much.
There was also a lot to hear. The theme for the event—which started off with WAI’s iconic Fundamentals of Wire Manufacturing program—was Rising to the Challenge. A series of presentations covered the workforce, the supply chain, production solutions and developments.
Wire Expo saw the traditional awarding of prizes, and this time there were three years’ worth as WAI honored the 2022 Mordica, Donnellan and WAI President’s award winners as well as the recipients of those honors in 2020 and 2021. See below list. Virtual recognition is better than none, but seeing the collective winners who were able to attend was a moment of pride.
Much else could also be said about Wire Expo. The event technically is put on by the WAI, but it would not be possible without industry contribution. Even at Wire Expo, WAI’s smaller annual event, more than a hundred volunteers contributed in some way, many behind the scenes. The company that deserves kudos is Encore Wire, which opened its massive McKinney campus for a tour of its expansive operations. The company had recently completed yet another major expansion, which brings its size to some three million sq ft ... and an interior train system. It made for a Texas-sized experience.

The return to staging international events
WAI’s mission statement is to disseminate technical information, and one way it does that is through holding International Technical Conferences (ITCs), either alone or in cooperation with other industry groups. Covid has upended those efforts the last few years, but in 2023 the Association will have two ITCs, one in Italy and the other in Mexico.
The WAI’s Board of Directors has given the go-ahead on these efforts, which you will be reading about more in future issues. The Italian ITC, to be called Wire & Cable Milan, will be held this fall in Milan. The date was reached at a recent meeting in Italy, where WAI President James York and WAI Executive Director Steve Fetteroll met with ACIMAF President Ferruccio Bellina at the 35th anniversary of the Italian machinery association. There was agreement that the time was right to once again join forces.
The last WAI collaboration with ACIMAF was for Wire & Cable in Verona in 2017, which attracted 250 delegates from 27 countries. Prior ITCs in Italy had been held in Stresa (2003 and 1997).
The second ITC will see WAI return to Mexico, where it has held four prior ITCs, three in Monterrey (2016, 2010 and 2008) and one in Queretaro (2004). Mexico has consistently proved to be a good location, a key to each of those being the support provided by 2009 WAI President Antonio Ayala. The 2023 ITC will be held Nov. 13-15.
Again, more information on both these events will be presented in future issues and at www.wirenet.org.
WAI Board supports further education
At a recent meeting, WAI’s Board of Directors authorized a fund of $50,000 to go to the creation of more educational products for the wire and cable industry.
The goal of the pilot program is to develop video-based training in different disciplines that would be of value to employees that are either new to the industry or have new responsibility. WAI has already created a number of videos—one of which, on cleaning an extruder screw, has had more than 83,000 viewings online—and will now focus on creating a new training series. This is still in the early stages, and WAI President Kurt Breischaft noted that this will be a long-term project that will serve both the ferrous and nonferrous sectors.

The value of tradition
The saga of Martin Thacker is worth noting. In 2020 and 2021, he served as the virtual Clockwinder, carrying out the annual tradition, from his U.K. home, of winding the Grandfather’s clock presented to the Association by the British wire and cable industry for help provided during World War II.
On Nov. 3, Thacker—who is a Liveryman of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Tinplate Workers Alias Wireworkers (Tinplate Workers) in London—was able to perform the duties, finally, in person. “I felt a fraud since I had fast become king of the virtual clockwinding ceremony. Now, having been here in Madison, I can now wear my tie with pride.”
Of note, only one past Clockwinder has wound the clock more than Thacker, and that is the late Terrence Cahill, Somerset Wire, who performed the tradition in 1979, 1989, 1991 and 1997.

Staffing updates
Change is part of any business, and with the departure of Robert “Bob” Xeller as sales director at the end of 2021, Shannon Timme took over that post, tasked with organizing the Interwire and Wire Expo trade shows. She joined the company in 2017 as sales manager, and has transitioned into her new post. She recently achieved certification for exhibition management.
One of Timme’s key tasks was to replace her former position, and it took several months before she found Gina Guzowski, whose prior experience included working for four years as a representative for RFS, handling cable, wire and antenna deployments for cell tower build ups. Guzowski had quite an industry introduction: in less than two months from her hire date, she had attended both Expo and wire Düsseldorf.
Of note, John Markowski, who became WAI intern in 2018, joined the Association full time in 2021, with responsibility for membership and social media.
It is fair to say that the WAI embodies a lean approach to staffing. As of the end of 2022, WAI had a total of nine full-time employees, and one part-timer, Cindy Kirmms, who is the circulation manager and supports accounting. It also has had different interns, the current one being Corey Flynn, a senior finance student at The University of New Haven.

The industry story includes WJI
Covid and staffing shortages have not been overly kind to wire and cable manufacturers and suppliers, and it seems as if every company has a story to tell. That includes WAI. One story that you did not read about had to do with delays for WJI because of its suppliers.
The magazine itself was able to function throughout the pandemic, as staff can work remotely, but WAI’s printer in New Hampshire depends on employees at their site. The printers have had to deal with Covid disruptions and severe staff shortages. That situation got a lot uglier early in 2022 when a cyber attack brought its systems down. The ensuing chaos added weeks to the dates the completed issues could be mailed. At the same time, truckers contacted to ship WJI preshow issues to Texas for Wire Expo and to Germany for wire Düsseldorf wanted to get those issues even earlier to ensure they arrived on time.
Fortunately, the problems eased some, enough that both preshow issues reached their destinations in time. The memory of that experience has not faded, and WAI staff shares a sincere appreciation for the struggles that so many companies have had to overcome. 

The Walter and Elfriede Niehoff Foundation supports a project of the OTH Regensburg. Named after the founder of Maschinenfabrik Niehoff and his wife, the foundation supports the research project "Use of digital twins for medium-sized mechanical engineering companies" of the East Bavarian Technical University of Applied Sciences (OTH) Regensburg with half a million euros. The cooperation agreement was signed by Ulla Niehoff, Chairwoman of the foundation, and Prof. Dr. Ralph Schneider, President of the OTH Regensburg.

The research project combines basic research with applied research and is designed to help small and medium-sized mechanical engineering companies gain a significant knowledge advantage and thus a market advantage by using digital methods in the product development. A digital twin is, in simple terms, the virtual copy of a process or a machine and enables the simulation of operational sequences under conditions that are close to reality. In this way, production processes can be simplified, resources can be used more sustainably, costs can be reduced and the development of innovations can be accelerated. The resources of the foundation will be used to finance the post for a research assistant who will, among other things, initiate interdisciplinary activities in the aforementioned research area.

The Walter and Elfriede Niehoff Foundation also mainly supports young professionals in technical and economic courses and supports social and cultural projects at the Niehoff site in Schwabach. 

The internationally active Niehoff Group is a leading manufacturer of machinery for the wire and cable industry and has around 1000 employees worldwide. The parent company has been working with the Mechanical Engineering Faculty of the OTH Regensburg for about one and a half years and participates along with other well-known plant and machinery manufacturers in its new "digital twin working group".

Bekaert is proud to announce that its near-term and long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

"As the world is transitioning to a zero-carbon economy, it is the responsibility of industrial companies like Bekaert to lead the way in decarbonization actions, in boosting innovation, and in driving smart, safe and sustainable solutions in the end-markets”, says Oswald Schmid, CEO of Bekaert. “I am proud that our ambitious carbon reduction targets have now been officially validated and that we join the group of leading companies that commit to targets supporting the limitation of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius according to latest science. Delivering upon these targets forms an inherent part of the commitment we make through our sustainability strategy.”

Bekaert’s carbon reduction targets

  • Bekaert has committed to actions to align emissions reduction targets to the 1.5-degree target of the Paris agreement. As part of an overall commitment to become Carbon Net Zero by 2050, the company has set ambitious targets for its value chain, covering Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions.  
  • For Scope 1 and 2 combined, Bekaert will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by 46.2% by 2030, compared to 2019. To this end, Bekaert will enhance the energy efficiency of its operations and increase the proportion of renewable energy supply.
  • For Scope 3, Bekaert will reduce the absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 19.7% by 2035 compared to 2019. To reach this ambitious objective, Bekaert engages with suppliers and customers to commit to carbon reduction targets and to measures based on circular principles across the value chain.

 The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)

SBTi is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The SBTi defines and promotes best practices in science-based target setting and independently assesses companies’ targets. 

Messe Düsseldorf has extended its family of trade shows for the wire and cable industry with its newest addition being wire Middle East Africa and Tube Middle East Africa.

A press release from Germany’s Messe Düsseldorf—which is one of the world’s 10 largest such organizers—said that wire Egypt will be held Sept. 2-4 at the Egypt International Exhibition Center in Cairo, joined by Tube Egypt, and two other metal events: GIFA Middle East Africa, METEC Middle East Africa.

The wire and Tube events will be held in a designated location within the overall event. METAL & STEEL has been organized by AGEX (Arabian German Exhibitions & Publishing Ltd), has presented a wide range of machinery, equipment and products from the steel and metal industries for the Near and Middle East since 2010.

AGEX, a leading Egyptian organizer, has staged trade fairs and conferences in the region since 2004, specializing in the industrial sector. “We are very much looking forward to the partnership with AGEX and are confident that our metal trade fair quartet offers profitable synergies for all parties involved,” said Daniel Ryfisch and Malte Seifert, directors of the wire, Tube, GIFA and METEC trade fairs at the Düsseldorf, Germany location.

Registration for the wire MEA and Tube MEA events contact Messe Düsseldorf North America, tel. 312-781-5180, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.mdna.com.

Microsoft has acquired Lumenisity® Limited, a start-up based in the U.K. that provides hollow-core fiber (HCF) with a proprietary design said to offer multiple advantages over traditional solid core fiber.

Per the company’s website, Lumenisity was formed in 2017 as a spinoff from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton to commercialize breakthroughs in the development of hollow-core optical fiber. In 2021 and 2022, it won the Best Fibre Component Product for its NANF® CoreSmart® HCF cable in the European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) Exhibition Industry Awards.

A press release said that Microsoft plans to use Lumenisity’s technology and experts to accelerate innovations in networking and infrastructure. It noted that light that propagates in an air core has significant advantages over traditional cable built with a solid core of glass, including increased overall speed and lower latency as light travels through HCF 47% faster than standard silica glass. For further details on Lumenisity’s technology, see the company’s presentations at www.lumenisity.com.

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