Mike McNulty 2017-11-06 23:56:17
A Bright & Mundane Future Last month, we attended the IWCS Conference in Orlando, and in September, we exhibited at wire Southeast Asia 2017 in Thailand. Both events were well executed and each contained large amounts of technology on display. Based on these visits, I can conclude that the global wire and cable industry is in good shape, and it has some bright prospects on the horizon. Most notably, the future seems dominated by ongoing opportunites related to the transmission of information and electricity. Some of the things that grabbed my attention include the following: • Richard Mack of CRU International, in the USA reported that the 2017 world total of insulated wire and cable sales will be worth about US$160 billion, and of this total, 90% or US$144 billion will be in sales of insulated wire and metallic cable, with the remaining 10%, about US$16 billion, coming in sales of fiber optic cable. Even with the size difference, optical fiber technology is still penetrating new markets and showing more rapid growth than metallic cable markets. • Attendance at wire Southeast Asia was up 20% compared to the last staging, and Friedrich-Georg Kehrer of Messe Düsseldorf in Germany advised that Thailand is considered to be the central springboard to the up-and-coming markets of southeast Asia due to a boom in the building, energy and automotive sectors. Robust prospects are expected in southeast Asia’s manufacturing sectors as well as in infrastructure spending projects including the ASEAN Power Grid (APG), the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high speed rail system and Thailand 4.0’s industrial and automation systems. • The pace of change in information and communications technology (ICT) is accelerating at a wild rate, and the conversion to all-electric and driverless vehicles as well as automated and robotic communities, smart homes, virtual reality and complete wireless proliferation will be mainstream sooner rather than later. Several IWCS Plenary Session videos on the future of connectivity and mobility shown by Fang Wei of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. in China were impressive, exciting and slightly Orwellian, all at the same time. • Morgan Kurk of CommScope in the USA reported that “Telecommunications in 2025” will have a layer of connectivity that is hard to imagine today. The opportunity for disruptive change in manufacturing is fast approaching with the convergence of massive computing for artificial intelligence, high-speed/low-latency networks and robotics. Consumers will be equally affected as physical screens 8 Wire & Cable Technology International/November 2017 give way to virtual ones and augmented reality provides and interprets information in new and transformative ways. All three areas of the network (core, access and edge) will be reinvented as “the cloud” decentralizes into “the fog,” the access layer pushes fiber ever deeper and adds power for edge devices, and edge connectivity harnesses wireless efficiency and convergence. • Toby Redshaw of Verizon in the USA says that we will see more opportunity, disruption, innovation and invention in the next decade than we have seen in the past three. At a high level, the world will become Cyber Physical: smart, useful automation and intelligence will permeate the physical world and combine to create the future. • Anthony Tassone of UL LLC in the USA, reported that deployment of powering over local area network (LAN) cable technologies is moving forward at a lightning pace. Once limited to powering low wattage IP phones, the industry has rapidly found new uses for this convenient powering strategy while demanding ever increasing power levels: security cameras, lighting, high-density access points and video displays are among the new generation of powered devices taking advantage of powering over LAN cabe schemes. And this is becoming increasingly popular with powering of video displays using Power over HDBaseT technology. Separate from attention-grabbing items listed above, the wire and cable industry always benefits from the routine increases in general economic conditions, and the speakers in the IWCS’ Executive Track are expecting improved growth rates and opportunities North America, Europe and Asia as was the case from people I talked to in Thailand. Key factors cited in the strong wire and cable prospects in the USA economy are low energy costs, reduced regulations and the possibility of new tax breaks. While we are enjoying “mundane” wire and cable growth, it might be wise to get more familiar with things like 5G, AI, Power over HDBaseT and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). In the meantime, you can check out our related “Straight From The Show” reports on pages 82 and 114. Mike McNulty, VP & Editor firstname.lastname@example.org @McNulty_WCTI
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