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7/12/21  Bekaert announced that it will expand the company’s plant in Lipetsk, Russia, investing approximately $24 million to add a new production line for bead wire and to increase its current tire cord manufacturing capacity.

A press release said that the Lipetsk plant produces steel cord for the tire industry and Dramix® fibers for construction markets. The bead wire line will allow the company to make a full range of products for the reinforcement of tires. The projects are expected to create 80 new jobs. The production start of the plant extension is planned for the first half of 2022.

The news was announced at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF ‘21). “This expansion will help the Bekaert Lipetsk team to continue to deliver superior value to their customers and to contribute to the customers’ growth ambitions in the region and the wider CIS, as well as to become an export platform to the European region,” the release said.

In January 2008, Bekaert first announced that it would strengthen its existing position in Russia by investing more than €97 million in a new steel cord production plant in the Lipetsk Special Economic Zone. At the time, Bekaert already had a portfolio of customers in Russia for steel cord products for tire reinforcement, steel fibers for concrete reinforcement and other specialized wire products, but they were being supplied by its plants in Central Europe. With the first phase, first production was scheduled to start in 2010, with other work phased in through 2013.

The Lipetsk plant, which serves customers in Russia and the wider CIS region, is about 400 km south of Moscow. Bekaert has also had a sales office in Moscow since 1998, that serves a portfolio of customers with a wide variety of advanced steel wire products.

Last modified on July 12, 2021

7/7/21  Anand Bhagwat was promoted to senior manager - quality and technology at Minova USA. In his new position, he will continue to support daily operations of quality functions, and manage the overall technology group in the Americas region. He will also support the global R&D team on product development. He joined the company in 2011 as manager of the Steel Technology Center. Prior to that, he worked at the Seneca Wire Group from 2000 to 2006 as vice president of quality and technology. Following a three-year stint as managing director of WAI Wire and Cable Services, Ltd., in India, the past WAI president (2005) returned to Seneca in 2011 as plant manager of FENIX, LLC. Based in Georgetown, Kentucky, Minova USA supplies ground support products for the mining, construction and energy industries.

Oman Cables Industry announced that Cinzia Farise is the company’s new CEO. She has been a sales and marketing director in the services and industrial products sector. She joined Italy’s Prysmian Group in 2005, holding a number of positions that included vice president and CEO of Prysmian India. She later served as CEO for Trenord, a large Italian rail company. In 2019, she returned to the Prysmian Group, and was named CEO of the group’s Turkish affiliate. She holds a degree in economics. She replaces Ali Said al Habaj, who left for personal reasons. Based in Rusayl, the Sultanate of Oman, Oman Cables Industry manufactures a wide range of electrical wires.

Victor Muñizn is the new regional manager for Latin America for Proton Products, tasked with leading and developing its sales and services business for measuring equipment in Latin America and the Caribbean. He previously worked for more than 20 years for Beta LaserMike, which is a brand of NDC Technologies, in Latin America as well as the U.S. His career began in 1999 as a senior laboratory engineer for Alcatel in the U.K. He holds a degree from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and an MBA from the University of Hull. Based in the U.K., Proton Products offers a wide range of measuring technology for wire and cable.

Remee Wire & Cable has named Marc Stringer as the company’s engineering product manager. He has more than three decades of industry experience in product management, marketing, engineering and related positions throughout his career. Some of his previous employers include General Cable, Belden, Southwire, Coleman, Champlain Cable and TE Wire & Cable. Based in Florida, New York, Remee Wire & Cable manufactures a range of fiber optic and copper cable.

Chroma Color Corporation announced three new employees. Wayne Comeau is the new market development manager. He most recently worked for eight years in the masterbatch industry as a key account manager, focused on custom color concentrates across various strategic markets. Prior to that he worked in numerous molding processes. Bob Mann is a regional account manager for Indiana, Michigan, and key accounts in the Midwestern region. He has 15 years of experience in colorants and additives, and a solid technical background that included roles with increasing responsibilities in color development labs. Tony Tanner is a regional account manager in the Mid-Atlantic region. He most recently was a senior technical account manager with a global pigment and dye manufacturer. He has wide experience in the field. Based in McHenry, Illinois, Chroma Color Corporation is a leading specialty color and additive concentrate supplier for markets that include wire and cable. 

Obituary notice
WJI is sad to report the passing of Ronald “Ron” W. Reed, a past WAI President (2008) who died from cancer on June 24 at age 65. A friend to many, he was a superb Association advocate and volunteer, for which he was named the 2012 winner of the Donnellan Memorial Award. The August issue will have a full obituary.

Last modified on July 8, 2021

7/7/21 Paramount Die Company announced that it has opened a new facility in Monterrey, Mexico, that will bolster its ability to serve international markets when it becomes operational in August.

The company, which notes that it is the world’s largest supplier of carbide wire drawing dies, reported that the new facility will enable it to better serve the Mexican and Latin American markets as well as provide additional capacity for production of wire drawing dies for export to international markets. More than half of Paramount Die’s products are already used outside the U.S. market, and the new facility will better position the company for further international expansion.

“With the addition of this new facility, Paramount Die expands its ability to quickly deliver world class products and services to the global market,” said Paramount Die President Richard Sarver. “The new facility will provide us additional capacity and will further strengthen our international competitiveness.”

Paramount is currently hiring and training staff for the new facility. The initial staff will be 20, and when fully operational, there will be more than a hundred employees.

Paramount’s plant in Abingdon, Maryland, will continue to function as the company’s primary manufacturing facility, technical R&D center and corporate headquarters. The Abingdon plant is also undergoing an expansion as Paramount continues to grow its production of carbide tooling for other metal forming applications, such as shaving, rolling and deep-draw tooling.

Last modified on July 7, 2021

7/7/21 Optical Cable Corporation (OCC) and CommScope have entered into a long-term agreement to cross-license portions of their patent portfolios.

A press release said that the cross-license agreement relates to certain copper data communication connectivity patents of both OCC and CommScope, in addition to OCC’s in-building wireless patents. Both companies can access and implement the other company’s licensed patents and technologies under the agreement.

This agreement follows one in 2004 where CommScope and SMP Data Communications (now part of OCC) cross-licensed copper data communication connectivity technologies that included complementary core technologies related to Cat. 6/Cat. 6A RJ45 connector performance.
“We have had a long and productive relationship with OCC and we are pleased to extend it with this agreement,” said CommScope’s John Schmidt, vice president of building connectivity infrastructure.

Madison, Connecticut, USA – June 18, 2021. The Wire Association International (WAI), Inc. announces the inaugural “Industry 4.0 Pavilion” to be introduced at the Interwire 2021 Trade Exposition on October 26-27, 2021, at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The Industry 4.0 Pavilion will illustrate how machine learning, automation, artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, IoT, predictive maintenance, and other factory and machine enhancements can positively affect the way wire is made and how well manufacturers compete on the world stage.
A collaboration between The Wire Association and Messe Düsseldorf North America (MDNA), the Industry 4.0 Pavilion will feature displays and educational briefings from ADVARIS; Cimteq; Davis-Standard; 40Factory SRL; InnoVites; MFL Group; MindSphere World Italia; Oden Technologies; Parsable; Rockwell Automation; Sikora; and TROESTER.

Commenting as one of the key organizers of the Industry 4.0 Pavilion, Richard Baker, Vice President of Engineering, Prysmian Group North America, referenced the “…technical presentations that will showcase the latest technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution” and said “Companies will demonstrate how Industry 4.0 technologies are applicable to wire and cable manufacturing and how the efficiency of equipment and processes can be significantly enhanced through their use.”

Tom Mitchell, President of MDNA said, “We are looking forward to being face to face this fall in Atlanta where we will work together on the industry 4.0 Pavilion.”

Willem Sundblad, a key organizer of, and exhibitor in, the pavilion and Cofounder and CEO of Oden Technologies, said, “This is an excellent opportunity to meet your customers, meet your suppliers, and network with your peers.” He invites visitors to learn about Industry 4.0 and find out where to start their digital journey “because it is a topic on everyone’s mind.”

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.

Interwire 2021 registration is now open at: www.interwire21.com. Since all activities will be held on the exhibit floor, registration includes the Industry 4.0 sessions, exhibits, keynote, production solutions, and welcome reception. Advance registration pricing is as follows: WAI member: $75 USD; New WAI member: $140 USD; Nonmember: $175. Registration for the hybrid Fundamentals of Wire Manufacturing course is separate with advance rates as follows: WAI member: $295 USD; New WAI member: $395 USD; Nonmember: $445.

The Wire Association International is a not-for-profit association with 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 Exposition and the WAI Operations Summit & Wire Expo and publishes the Wire Journal International and the Wire Journal International Reference Guide.

Media Contacts: Janice E. Swindells, Director Marketing & Corporate Communications, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel.: 001-203-453-2777 x. 117; Steven J. Fetteroll, Executive Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel.: 001-203-453-1777.

Last modified on June 18, 2021


The Fundamentals focuses on technology, but there are times when other information also becomes important. This installment is from a May 6 New England Chapter webinar by labor attorney Katherine Witherspoon Fry, principal attorney at the firm of Offit Kurman, P.A., who discussed legal issues stemming from Covid-19. Katherine advises clients, litigates cases nationwide and has made two appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court. She also teaches HR law at the University of Delaware and is a Delaware Supreme Court appointed hearing officer and certified mediator. Below are edited opening comments and her responses to questions she fielded.

So, I wonder if we’re all tired of hearing about this. I know that I’m tired of talking about it. However, we have to keep dealing with it. The outlook for Covid-19 has gotten better, but it is not going away as an issue. I try to look at this as a new normal for now, and we have to manage our legal risks of dealing with it. I want to discuss legal liabilities for employers because it is important what to do before and after your workforce is vaccinated, best practices for returning to work after your illness or exposure, and pay for quarantining workers.

Unfortunately, we’ve already started seeing some new claims. Let’s start with OSHA, which is about to issue new regulations. I’m very, very excited about this because I’m an employment law geek. We’ve been begging for this since March 2020.

A few states have issued regulations, but most have not. I deal with some Virginia employers, and they have burdensome regulations, but at least they know that if they’re doing certain things, they’re not going to be in trouble. They’re not going to get sued by their employees or their customers, et cetera, if they’re following the regulations, and that’s it. New Jersey also has regulations.

So soon we’ll have OSHA regulations. The agency sent its Emergency Temporary Standard in late April to the White House. I can’t tell you today what it includes, but to date, OSHA has never mandated vaccinations, other than for a targeted requirement for certain employees to take a Hepatitis B vaccine. What I can tell you is that once we all know what the regulations are, follow them. Absolutely adhere to the regulations. Don’t forget about your state executive orders or emergency orders. Of note, the state might be stricter than OSHA. We have different variations going on, and you have to make sure that neither the state nor a federal agency like OSHA comes down on you.

I fully expect that the new regulations will lead to more new claims in the workers’ comp field from people alleging that they got Covid-19 at work. I was alarmed to see that some nationwide major insurance companies are denying these claims. This is bad news for employers, because we as employment counsel (I’ve been doing this for 26 years) were thinking that was not going to be the case, that workers’ comp would preclude people from directly suing their employers. When I heard that Walmart was being sued for wrongful death, I thought, “Oh, that’s probably going to be covered by workers’ comp.” But if courts agree that workers’ compensation insurance is not part of this, they are going to allow suits based upon plain ordinary negligence and willful, crazy-type decision making.

I expect cases brought for negligence and for personal injury, or wrongful death are going to be prevalent. We’ve already seen them against cruise ship lines by passengers and crew members, and against big companies like Amazon and Walmart. They all allege that employers knew that things needed to be locked down, way more protected, with way more PPE provided, and they just failed to do it. I am not saying I expect a flood of suits to be filed against the wire and cable industry, but could they happen? Possibly. I’d like to turn this over to your questions now.

Participant questions

Question: We have employees that we regularly remind to wear PPE, and we do write ups as needed. Are we liable to claims if that person is shown to have spread Covid?
Fry: Such litigation is classified as a negligence personal liability matter. It is definitely something that the workers’ compensation people have been fighting. The insurance companies don’t want to pay that. But the person in question has to prove that they got it at work. The company focus has to be on not just having policy, but making sure it is known and enforced. If you want to discipline an employee who does not follow policy, your policy should say exactly what the consequences are, and if there is a violation, you carry it out. Forget about getting sued. You don’t want the business shut. You don’t want the PR nightmare, and you don’t want people getting sick.

Question: Can we require employees to be vaccinated?
Fry: All the vaccines that are available now are emergency authorization only. They have not received final approval. But the answer is that you can mandate someone get those. They are considered available, and that has been sort of stated upfront that yes, you can mandate those for people
who don’t have disabilities or religious objections.

Question: Can we loosen up our strict policy of plant visitors without getting in trouble?
Fry: So again, I think as your state changes its policies and its regulations, then I think the prudent employer can say, “Hey, I’m going to watch what the state is doing, and I’m going to do what the state says I can do.” I have a client in Florida, which no longer has a statewide mask mandate, that wanted to hold an employer-sponsored event. We talked it over and we agreed that it’s not a good idea in municipalities that still mandate face coverings. It’s inviting trouble. You don’t want clients to get sick and end up suing you. You also have to consider who you are inviting, and how much control do you have over them. A gathering of no more than 10 people was considered safe, especially if it was outside, as the data show that only 10% of cases are contracted outside versus 90% inside. If they’re all vaccinated, then that should be perfectly safe according to the CDC. You also could quiz people. You could say, “If you’re vaccinated, you’re welcome to come to our event.” But what are you going to do? Card at the door? It’s so funny. Everyone gets these cards now. Are we going to have to use that for admission to the movies? Or for company events? We’re just going to have to trust people’s good judgment. Letting go a little bit is okay, as long as it’s done smartly. Have it outside. So yes, we can cautiously start loosening up a little bit. Just make sure you follow the rules of both the state and what OSHA says.

Question: If you have an employee or employees that test positive more than once, are companies liable to pay them each time that they have to take time off?
Fry: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act dictated that you pay people up to 80 hours. Under the American Rescue Plan Act, you may take the tax credit for those hours. More hours than that, you don’t get the tax credit. If you want, you can be the generous employer and provide more leave, if I understood the question correctly, it was for a person who tested positive twice, but it could be that an employee tests positive, and later, one of the family members tests positive, and now the employee has to watch them. After the 80 hours, you don’t have to give anything, but an employer might want to consider employee morale. Keeping boots on the ground and people in the plants is not so simple, so think about that too before you decide.

The Fundamentals is a column evolved from the Wire Association International's iconic Fundamentals of Wire Manufacturing program.

Editor’s note. On May 13, the CDC issued a finding that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask. Fry added this comment, “The news from the CDC is very encouraging and may incentivize many employees to become vaccinated. However, if the state in which your employees are working mandates masks, don’t allow vaccinated people to unmask yet in the office, at company events or when meeting with people in public for business purposes. Continue to follow state guidance for health reasons and to demonstrate that your business isn’t negligent.”

Last modified on June 13, 2021

June 3, 2021 – A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office competition offers entrepreneurs up to $4.5 million in prizes for development of next-generation affordable conductors. It is part of DOE’s Conductivity-enhanced materials for Affordable, Breakthrough Leapfrog Electric applications (CABLE) Conductor Manufacturing initiative. Below, WJI poses questions to DOE’s Dr. Tina Kaarsberg, who leads the CABLE initiative. For eligibility, deadlines and more details go to www.americanmadechallenges.org/cable.

WJI: What is the contest about?
TK: DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office seeks entries in three categories: (1) metal enhanced with nanocarbon metals that also contain carbon nanotubes, single- or few-layer graphene, doped or undoped, or other carbon allotropes; (2) metal enhanced without nanocarbon, either by processing innovations and/or by adding other metals or non-nanocarbon compounds; and (3) nonmetal, enhanced with metal, which are conductors that are primarily nonmetal (e.g., polymer or nanocarbon) but may also contain metal, such as nanoparticles of metallic elements, but no bulk metal components. The goal is to strengthen American leadership in energy innovation and domestic manufacturing.

WJI: How does this work?
TK: There are three progressive stages to rapidly transition new materials from the lab to the marketplace. Stage 1 seeks concepts to develop and manufacture conductors with an electric conductivity that is an unprecedented 10% (over 65 MS/m) larger than today’s best copper-based conductor, or a conductivity by density that is nearly 5% larger (over 14 kS m2/kg) larger than today’s best aluminum-based conductors. Stage 2 will then test lab-scale samples for electrical conductivity. Finally, Stage 3 will evaluate manufacturing-scale samples for conductivity and other properties, and examine the documented manufacturing process, scale-up plans, and cost.

WJI: Who can enter?
TK: Any company or individual with the desire and drive to transform an idea into an impactful conductor material. It can be individuals of one or multiple organizations, students, academics, small business owners, researchers, etc. Competitors must be legal U.S. residents.

WJI: How do the prizes work?
TK: For the CABLE Prize, DOE may award up to 10 competitors in Stage 1, each team receiving a $25,000 cash award and a stipend for third-party testing. In Stage 2, up to six competitors will each win $200,000 in cash awards and a $100,000 noncash voucher that will support future work in Stage 3, when teams will collaborate with a DOE national laboratory or another American-Made Challenges Network provider. Up to four winners will be selected at the end of Stage 3, and a total prize pool of at least $2,000,000.

WJI: Why is this being done?
TK: Conductivity-enhanced materials are urgently needed to help make a more equitable, clean-energy future by enabling the grid expansion needed to deliver cleaner, lower-impact, and more affordable electricity across our nation. Conductivity-enhanced materials will also lower the cost and impact of electrifying the entire economy (e.g., with motors, heat pumps, chargers) to enable a zero-carbon economy by 2050. The CABLE Prize aims to identify, verify, and reward new materials and manufacturing methods that achieve significant enhancements in electrical conductivity. The impact of these materials goes beyond just American infrastructure, but a global landscape transitioning to a greener, more energy-efficient tomorrow. For more details, visit www.americanmadechallenges.org/cable.

WJI: Is it fair to say that you are seeking “out of the box” thinking?
TK: Yes, we encourage out-of-the-box thinking because many have thought significant enhancements in conductivity would be impossible until very recently. We’re encouraging problem solvers across the U.S. to tap into the vast potential of conductivity-enhanced materials for clean energy applications. Our hope is that innovators will experiment with the amazing properties of materials—including carbon—at the nanoscale, and partner with advanced manufacturers to fabricate materials at larger scales. Ultimately, our priorities are to encourage a more diverse set of innovators empowered to make clean energy more accessible and affordable, and spur the transition to a sustainable and equitable clean energy economy.

Last modified on June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021 – South Korea’s Kyungshin Group has officially opened its new production operation that will produce battery components for high-tech electric vehicles, in the Guberash industrial zone of Smederevska Palanka in Serbia.

The website for the Kyungshin Group, which supplies the auto industry, notes that customers include Hyundai and Kia. It also has production facilities in China, India, Honduras and Poland. Among those attending the grand opening ceremony was Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Per the Development Agency of Serbia RAS at the company’s website, Kyungshin Cable Europe will supply the European market, and create 700 new jobs by the end of 2022.

Kyungshin Cable Europe is part of the Kyungshin Group, which also has facilities in the U.S., Mexico, China, Poland and South Korea. Founded in 1974, Kyungshin Cable’s core activity has been expanded from automotive and industrial wires and cables to the production of car parts for high- and low-voltage electric vehicles, in accordance with the new trends in the automotive industry.

Last modified on June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021 – The next staging of wire Southeast Asia—and its sister show, Tube Southeast Asia—will now be held Feb. 9-11, 2022 at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) in Bangkok, Thailand.

A press release from organizers Messe Düsseldorf said that the event, which was to be held Sept. 22-24, is being moved to the new dates to “allow for optimum international participation.” It noted that in the past, over 90% of the exhibitors came from overseas countries such as Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan and Korea. “It is anticipated that by next year with further easing of travel restrictions and ongoing successful vaccine deployments worldwide, there will be a more optimistic environment for companies to do business safely and effectively at these trade fairs.”

The two trade fairs were first held in 1997. At the last staging in 2019, international exhibitors from 29 countries participated at the trade fairs, while 45% of trade visitors came from outside Thailand.

Last modified on June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021 – Subsea cable supplier SubCom will provide two next-gen subsea cables to support data capacity for Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio), a mobile digital service provider in India.

A press release said that the two systems, each of which will provide more than 200 Tbits of capacity, will require cable to span some 16,000 km. They will employ open system technology and the latest wavelength switched RoADM/branching units ensures rapid upgrade deployment and the ultimate flexibility to add/drop waves across multiple locations.

The first system, the India-Asia-Xpress (IAX) system, will connect Mumbai and Chennai in India eastbound to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The second system, the India-Europe-Xpress (IEX) system, will connect India westbound to Italy, landing in Savona, and additional landings in the Middle East and North Africa.

Both systems will be connected to the Reliance Jio Global Fiber Network beyond Asia-Pacific and Europe, connecting to both the east and west coast of the U.S. IAX is expected to be ready for service mid-2023, while IEX will be ready for service in early 2024.
“To meet the demands of streaming video, remote workforce, 5G, IoT, and beyond, Jio is taking a leadership role in the construction of the first of its kind, India-centric IAX and IEX subsea systems,” said Reliance Jio President Mathew Oommen.

Last modified on June 3, 2021