Going green: The Wire and Cable Way

Allied's Wire NewsReelEverything and everyone these days seems to be moving towards “going green.”

Whether it’s toting your reusable bags to the grocery store or filling your cup from the water cooler instead of bringing plastic water bottles to work, everyone is doing their part.

The wire and cable industry is no different, recently moving towards using eco-friendly cables in many different applications.  According to Dave Watson, the Director of Engineering at Alpha wire, one of the leaders in eco-cables, the buzz has been driven largely by Europe, which is moving towards halogen free or low halogen cables.

One of the main attributes that makes these cables different is the insulation and jacket material called Modified Polyphenylene ether or mPPE, which is also used in Alpha’s own EcoGen product line.  “mPPE is a relatively new material with good dielectric properties, a wide temperature range, and good recyclability,” Watson said.Alpha Eco-Wire

“The halogen free nature of mPPE means that if it burns, harmful acid gases are not released into the atmosphere,” Watson continued.

PVC, the predecessor to mPPE, is not like that.  PVC may have additives like mercury, dioxin, and phthalate which can be extremely harmful when emitted into the air.

However, the benefits of mPPE are not just environmental.  The reduced overall diameter of the eco-cables helps the devices they are used in to be smaller and more portable. While an increase in cost might deter eco-cables from becoming too popular too quickly, the positives that they bring to the table are plenty.

mPPE is also stronger than PVC and has more abrasion resistance.  It has been used in many different applications such as internal wiring of military grade field radio transmitters, medical device manufacturers, and robotic applications for a supplier of parts for jet airliners, Watson said.

Options for eco-cables, like other wire and cable products, come in many sizes and constructions so that their use can be wide-reaching.

Watson believes eco-cables are here to stay.

“To some degree European Union regulations like REACH and RoHS are fueling the trend,” he said.

“But there is generally a broader trend of being good stewards of the environment to which we’ve been entrusted.”

For more information on eco-cables or to place an order please call us anytime at 800-472-4655.

Coaxial Cable is coming for you!

Allied's Wire NewsReel

Allied Wire and Cable’s NewsReel

Look out world, coaxial cable is coming for you.

This common type of cable can be seen in your televisions, your VCR’s, cable boxes, and Ethernet cables and according to a recent report by Transparency Market Research the North American Coaxial Cable Market is expected to reach a value of an estimated 3.1 billion dollars by 2018. That is a growth rate of approximately 7.2 % each year until 2018.

“I would agree with the overall percentage,” said Trum Rittling, from Harbour Industries, a manufacturer of wire and cable for military, commercial, and industrial markets.

The report, titled “Coaxial Cable Market-North America Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2012-2018,” says that after a careful analysis, researchers determined that the growth in coax cable is mainly because in North America alone, there has been an increasing need for accessing the internet in different commercial spaces, homes, or offices in multiple rooms.  In 2012, The United States had the largest market share in the coaxial cable business at 59.2%.  The report attributes a large part of this increase to the booming market of video streaming services such as Netflix and Apple TV, which currently represents the largest segment of end users in the region.  Currently in the United States, 90% of Americans have coaxial cable networks to access content on HDTV, laptops, BlueRays, and gaming consoles.

However, the coaxial cable market isn’t tied to the television business alone; it’s also relevant in the military, aerospace, construction, medical, automotive, and marine industries.  There is also evidence to suggest that between now and 2018, there will be a huge demand for coaxial cable for security and surveillance equipment manufacturers as the United States has been focusing on improving security in both the public and private sectors, researchers have found.

RG_214

RG214 Coaxial Cable

“Coaxial cable applications are many, from connecting your cable TV to high frequency coax used to jam an IED,” Rittling said.

As for the Netflix and Apple TV connection Rittling says he’s not sure they are truly contributing to the increase.

“Those systems utilize HDMI type cable and connectors, not coax,” Rittling said.

Coming up in a close second and third for control of this useful cable are Canada and Mexico who are projected to have serious gains due to more investment in improving communications in their respective countries, the report said.  In Mexico, specifically, there is an increase in funding from the government for telecommunications and broadband to support economic development, analysts said.

People are finding this to be an attractive investment due to low restrictions on trade, among other reasons.

For more information on coaxial cable visit our Coaxial Cable FAQ page. If you need a quote or to speak to a rep, call us at 1-800-472-4655.

We will be watching for the outcome on this issue and will bring it to you as soon as it develops.

 

Underwater Cable: The Wave of the Future

Allied's Wire NewsReelUsing underwater submarine cable for the transmission of electricity and high speed telecommunications data is part of a growing movement of connecting cities and countries.

 

You see the worker from the electric company checking your meter, you see the cell phone towers driving down the highway, and you see the Ethernet cables in your home office but did you know that some of that power is actually transmitted underwater?

The first transoceanic cable came into full operation in 1866 when a link between Ireland and Newfoundland that allowed transmission of seven words per minute via telegraph was discovered. As technology progressed from Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone to the first fiber-optic submarine cable in 1979 submarine cables have come a long way, according to a report published by The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Cable Protection Committee Ltd (ICPC).  UNEP is part of the world’s foremost intergovernmental environmental organization and ICPC is a non-profit organization that facilitates the exchange of technical, legal, and environmental information concerning submarine cable installation, maintenance, and protection.

As recently as ten years ago, however, the submarine cable industry was experiencing a bit of a decline.  In mid-2000 however, rising energy prices and concerns about climate change rekindled an interest in using submarine cables.   Industry experts predict that even more growth is on the way.  According to a report by Navigant Research, a US research firm that tracks the energy industry, global sales of high-voltage submarine cable is set to triple from $1.9 billion in 2014 to over $5.3 billion in 2023.

Leading the pack in underwater cable systems

Internet Giant Google is no exception when it comes to this growth and submarine cable.  They announced last month that they signed commercial agreements with a consortium of six global companies to build and operate a new Trans-pacific cable system called FASTER.  The underwater cableFASTER cable system will connect the United States more closely with Japan and is reportedly going to cost approximately $300 Million, according to a press release from Google.

“FASTER is one of a few hundred submarine telecommunications cables connecting various parts of the world. These cables collectively form an important infrastructure that helps run global Internet and communications,” said Mr. Woohyong Choi, the chairman of the FASTER executive committee.

“The consortium partners are glad to work together to add a new cable to our global infrastructure. The FASTER cable system has the largest design capacity ever built on the Trans-Pacific route, which is one of the longest routes in the world. The agreement will benefit all users of the global Internet, “Choi said.

Staying protected despite the elements

Subsea cables have come a long way in their construction and ability to do their job.  According to the UNEP and ICPC report, submarine telegraph cables from the early 1900’s were constructed with an inner copper conductor for transmitting messages, an insulating layer of tree resin called gutta percha and one or more outer layers of iron wire for strengthening and protecting the whole cable.  Coaxial cable or analogue cables were the rage in the 1950’s with polyethylene insulation and a copper conductor.  Today cables have multiple glass fibers that have the capacity to transmit over 1 million telephone calls. Despite that power, modern cables are much smaller with deep ocean types only about the size of a garden hose.  Most recently sharks went after some of Google’s underwater cables prompting the internet giant to reinforce them with a Kevlar like material.

More growth is expected

James McCray, senior researcher for Navigant Research believes that underwater cable system projects will continue well into the future but won’t necessarily replace above ground use.  “There will be a large market for submarine cables.  The connections between Iceland, with huge geothermal generation resources and various parts of Northern Europe are huge, and connections across the Mediterranean Sea to Northern Africa and Middle East might be huge opportunities,” McCray said.

These opportunities will continue to be driven by population growth, increased reliance on offshore renewables, and the interconnection of energy markets and regional systems, McCray predicted.

But don’t expect a total transformation.

“I think that some portion of the market will continue to be submarine cables, but there is such a high proportion of the transmission and distribution grid that is land-locked and above ground, that submarine cables will continue to be a regional and coastal phenomenon.

For more on submarine cable systems check out this map of 300 active submarine cable systems that interconnect the world. http://submarine-cable-map-2014.telegeography.com/

A Penny for your thoughts: Copper theft and the rise in copper pricing.

Allied's Wire NewsReelIn August alone, copper theft delayed getting water cleared from flooded freeways in Detroit because thieves stole copper piping from pumping stations used to clear water from the freeways.  Two men were taken into custody in a western suburb of Omaha, Nebraska after attempting to steal copper from a cell phone tower.  A West Virginia man pleaded guilty to two counts of grand larceny after stealing $2,000 worth of copper from a local power plant.

Unfortunately, copper thefts are nothing new according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau which reports on insurance claims regarding metal thefts each year.  Their most recent report takes a look at metal insurance claims from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2013 and found that during this time 41,138 insurance claims for the theft of copper, bronze, brass, or aluminum were handled and of that number 39, 976 of those claims were for copper alone.

“Copper theft is pretty common around the nation. Why? It’s no more complex than understanding that there are plenty of people who are willing to steal something that can be converted into quick cash. Our reports only capture insurance claims for these kinds of losses and we’re not even scratching the surface of all of the activity that goes on. Most of these kinds of thefts do not trigger an insurance claim so the numbers in our reports are not nearly representative of the actual numbers of incidents,” said Frank Scafidi, Director of Public Affairs for the NCIB.

copper wire

Copper theft affects the price of copper. The thefts have a direct relationship to the price increases reported by The Camden copper index and the Comex index.

Cause and Effect:Thefts affect price

When you compare the metal theft claims per month and the monthly average copper prices, the number of claims filed has a significant relationship with the price of copper. Since January of 2009 the price of copper has risen significantly from $1.48 lb to 4.49 lb in 2011 , according to statistics from the NCIB and the Comex index.  By the time the price of copper hit $4.49 lb, theft claims had jumped from 239 to 1,038 per month.  By August 2011, when copper was $4.76 they hit 1,397.

“The kinds of people involved in these thefts are probably not dialed into real time commodity trading and timing their thefts to exploit market conditions. On the other hand, if some characters are doing so, it suggests a much more organized operation because those folks would need to harvest a large amount of the material to make it worth their effort,” Scafidi said.

“The garden variety knucklehead who steals a run of copper wiring from an unoccupied home or a vacant building is just taking advantage of the opportunity and hoping to turn it into enough cash to make it through the next few days,” Scafidi added.

“But in any case, this behavior has damaging results and replacing materials is costing owners and public utilities tons of money.”

No one is immune

This epidemic affects a variety of different industries such as the agriculture industry and utility industries as well as individuals.  However, one industry that can get hit pretty hard is agriculture. The copper that is inside span cables used in the agricultural industry isn’t really worth a whole lot of money but when thieves attack and go for this type of metal theft, it can cost tons of money in repairs including the damage done to their crops and a jump in insurance costs.

The states leading in metal theft claims are Ohio with 4,144 claims, Texas with 2,827, California with 2,489, Pennsylvania with 2,345, and Georgia with 2,067.

What can we do?

The rise in scrap metal thefts has driven necessary legislative activity.  In 2012, Ohio, the leader in metal theft claims passed stricter legislation which now requires scrap metal dealers to obtain identification from scrap metal sellers and prohibits cash payments to them.  More recently this year, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a similar bill into law hoping to quell the tide of metal thefts which cause losses to businesses and government entities and cause customers and taxpayers more money through higher costs for goods and services and/or reduction in services.  Also in place in seventeen states are “no-burn” laws named after the fact that copper thieves tend to burn stolen cable before selling it to scrap businesses and this law will prevent scrap dealers from accepting burned cable.

For more information on the movement to end copper theft visit www.endcoppertheft.com.  This “End Copper Theft” campaign was initiated by Southwire Company and supported by a host of organizations all touched by this issue to raise awareness among growers, irrigation dealers, metal recyclers, law enforcement and legislators.

Although copper hasn’t been above $4/lb since early 2013, Allied Wire and Cable is always prepared to help in case the prices start rising again.  Check out our ways to help you save money on copper that we published in 2008 when copper prices were starting to rise. Click here for more information.

Allied Wire and Cable is continuously committed to providing the best customer experience possible. We understand that part of great customer service is providing the lowest prices available to our customers. AWC is dedicated to helping you save money. Look to AWC for continued copper pricing updates.

Introducing Allied’s Wire NewsReel

Allied's Wire NewsReelJust like the front page of your daily paper or your favorite 6 o’clock newscast, we want to keep you up to date on the latest breaking news in wire and cable.  Our brand new series on the AWC blog, Allied’s Wire NewsReel will keep you posted on the news stories here at AWC and all across the globe.  We promise to report the latest and most up to date breaking news stories for wire and cable and more importantly how they affect you.  So, grab your morning joe and start flipping through your newsreel for your wire and cable news fix.

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