In the past year, I jotted down a number of wire and cable market trends that I’ve noticed. Let’s review a few recent trends and perhaps we can get a discussion going on how we all must evolve to become more dynamic businesses going forward. Some of these trends are general in nature and some are industry-specific, but relate in some way to the overall wire and cable market.
Here are five that I found particularly interesting:
1. Harmonization of products. This isn’t necessarily the same as commoditization, even though certain aspects are present (i.e., increased price sensitivity). The harmonization trend is rather interesting because it works in favor of a select few suppliers but will require them to be able to adapt to a global economy if they want to maintain their business growth. Unlike commoditization (a.k.a., Walmart-style economics) or the use of volume to drive down input costs, harmonization of products mostly tries to solve a supply chain problem. Companies that do not have a global presence will be displaced or must offer lower prices to remain competitive. This also transitions well into the next trend, compliance.
2. Compliance. It’s not just about the finance industry anymore. Wire and cable users are paying a lot more attention to make sure suppliers are meeting the industry and local standards, especially accuracy, quality, and internal specifications. This is a real challenge. It seems like every country, industry and/or company are all coming up with a new standard. It has become a full-time job for quality people to educate themselves in order to stay on top of standards in order to maintain global competitiveness. Again, companies that don’t have a global presence and don’t stay on top of compliance with the ever-changing standards, especially in international “local” markets, will be displaced by local competitors that do.
3. Metal heat treatment world, say hello to CQI9. I have no idea why this became such a popular topic in the past year because it is not a new specification. AIAG-CQI9 was a popular topic with many attendees at the Furnaces North America trade show. Automotive standards are requiring tougher tolerances than aerospace. There has been a significant shift to Aluminum chassis, most notably Ford F150 trucks. Are you in compliance with CQI9? Call me if you need help in locating an expert or just leave a comment if you would like to get more details.
4. Partnerships. Whether its commercial partnership, internal partnerships, academic research and development, etc., this is certainly a trend that we have followed with our recent licensing agreement for Low Drift MI cable with Cambridge University. I am a firm believer that this will help numerous companies maintain competitive advantage within their industry, assist them with new innovations, and drive growth into tangential spaces that might not have been possible to target with current resources or products. A right partnership is a win-win for everyone involved.
5. Higher temperature, harsh environment technologies continue to be in hot demand. Jet engines are running hotter. Labs purchasing thermocouple are looking to test materials at 2000°C. There are some interesting developments in the research community and it’s certainly worth watching. Check out our recent introduction of the brands new Low Drift MI cable and stay tuned for some more sensor innovations coming from our parent company, the Marmon Group.
What are your thoughts on the trends I listed? Have I missed any that you’ve found particularly interesting?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or give me a call to discuss your latest thermocouple wire and cable challenges!
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