SED TO COMPLETE ELEC-
trical connections from source to outlet, bring power to a structure, and distribute it throughout, wire and cable repre- sent a broad category featuring prod- ucts designed and approved for all professional and residential applica- tions. Currently estimated at a $13 bil- lion market, wire and cable sales are expected to grow based on the contin- ued rebounding of the construction market, with modern-age designs emphasizing safety, efficiency, and the Internet of Things. According to Corky Whipple, busi- ness manager and director of build- ing wire for Southwire (southwire. com), the wire and cable category covers a broad spectrum of products and applications, from commercial building wire products like THHN, XHHW, USE, and metal-clad (MC) cables to residential building wire products such as service entrance (SER and SEU) and nonmetallic (NM-B and UF-B), some of which are available in both copper and alu- minum conductors. “The wire and cable segment of the building industry covers electrical wires with various insulation proper- ties and thicknesses to accommodate a wide variety of installations from dry, wet, and even damp situations,” noted Paul Abernathy, CMI, CPI, and manager of codes and standards for Encore Wire ( encorewire.com). He added that most commercial and industrial installations tend to use armored cable, metal-clad cable, and tray cable, where permitted by the
. He also explained that the use of cables with metallic armor adds a level of protection to the cable assem- bly and tends to work better in appli- cations where metallic framing mem- bers are predominately used. For numerous reasons, Abernathy predicts an uptick in the wire and cable market. “The economy is poised to turn around and spawn rapid con- struction growth, and as construction projects start to build more vertically due to lack of physical land space, the building wire and cable market will grow rapidly as well,” he said.
Product Manager Peter Lafreniere of AFC Cable Systems ( afcweb.com) con- tends that several macro trends are changing the wire and cable market. “First, the shortage of skilled labor is creating a strong demand for labor- saving products such as prefabricated and modular wiring solutions,” he said. “Second, energy conservation standards such as California’s
are sweeping the nation and creating demand for wire and cable products specially designed to accommodate dimming and daylight harvesting technology as well as healthcare set- tings, while emerging technologies such as Power over Ethernet [PoE] are also driving new application opportunities.” To address labor shortages, Abernathy explained that new designs such as cables featuring both power wires and control cables within the same armored assembly reduce not only labor, but also valuable installa- tion time, while more visible and
WIRED FOR SPEED
New wire and cable designs respond to the contractor labor
shortage and digital-era demands for interconnectivity.
durable wire striping designs aid contractors by remaining intact and vibrant throughout the installation. In addition, “with the expanding energy conservation requirements found in the
International Energy Conservation Code
International Green Code
, and other more strin- gent energy-saving mandates being adopted across the United States, hybrid cables help to meet those strict expanding regulations,” Aber- nathy said. Whipple concurred that many of the industry’s new innovations are designed to help contractors address labor shortage concerns by allowing them to install wire more efficiently with less hassle, improve jobsite safety, and maximize productivity. “We’re also seeing interesting new trends with the advance of the In- ternet of Things and the digital ceil- ing,” Whipple noted of those things that will drive the next generation of wire and cable design.
Tips for the Trade
According to Whipple, “The distrib- utors that are growing the fastest right now are those spending the time and money to teach contractors how to use some of the industry’s wire and cable innovations to maxi- mize safety and productivity on the jobsite.” Abernathy agreed that training is a key to success for distributors selling wire and cable. With quality manufacturers offering instruction on everything from product selec- tion to code compliance after the
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