Wire and cables plays an important part in our surrounding. A cable is two or more wires running side by side and bonded, twisted or braided together to form a single assembly. In mechanics cables, otherwise known as wire ropes, are used for lifting, hauling and towing or conveying force through tension. In electrical engineering cables used to carry electric currents. An optical cable contains one or more optical fibers in a protective jacket that supports the fibers.
Whether it is steel ropes ,cables, springs or screws, the products of the wire, cable and wire –processing industry are practically everywhere. They may look unassuming, but they are indispensable when it comes to the transmission of electric power or electronic data, and they assure that mechanical systems function well. The technological and economic development of a society is closely connected with the wire and cable industry and its suppliers. Since basically all areas of life rely on wire and the products that are manufactured from wire, and while their property potential is seemingly not yet exhausted, the wire, cable and wire processing industry is constantly faced with new challenges. In order to meeting these challenges it require machinery, tooling, accessories, ancillary equipment and services that are as efficient as possible in their utilization of energy and raw materials, and which produce as little waste as possible during startup and production.
Wires and cables sector basically consists of two areas: power and telecommunication. Power cables are PVC or PE clad, while the cables for telecommunication sector are based on PE (Polyethylene). Power cables are of 3 types depending on the intensity of power. Low-tension sector requires cables upto 1.1 KV and predominantly uses PVC insulation and jacketing. The medium tension power cables between 1.1 KV and 11 KV are based on PE as well as PVC. The high tension sector beyond 11 KV uses PE only. The low tension cables are used for tertiary distribution of power mainly from substations to buildings. Housing sector requires many other products for myriad applications. The medium tension cables generally use crosslinkable PE compounds while the high-tension cables use continuous vulcanization cables made from PE (LDPE). Electrical power cables used for transmission and distribution purposes consist of conductors stranded from plain high conductivity annealed copper wires insulated with oil impregnated paper tapes. Aluminium conductors have progressively come into use.
The market is divided into different segments in terms of product variation. The basic divi-sion is between cables and conductors. Cables are either power cables or control cables. Power cables supply energy at voltages upto 230 KV. Control cables are low voltage cables (upto 0.6 KV) used to transmit control signals in switch boards. The conducting material can be copper or aluminium with insulating material, PVC, XLPE, elastomers or paper. The cable market is segmented by the combination of material used to form the conductor, the insulator, sheathing and armouring.
Power cable industry in India is eyeing an estimated Rs 50 billion market to unfold. About 78,000 MW of power generation capacity and 60,000 circuit km of transmission network are projected to be added by 2012 according to the Eleventh Five Year Plan. Capex required for every MW of power generating capacity is about Rs 40 million. Expenditure required in the Eleventh Five Year Plan for power generation has been estimated at Rs 270 billion, besides Rs 69.5 billion for power transmission. Demand for cables should roughly be of the order of 3.5% of the investment in power generation and 2% for power transmission.
The expansion in output in the later years was basically an outcome of a spurt in industrial demand. High and low demand rates have characterised the industry for quite some time. During 2000-01 the production has been estimated at 30,000 km, about 18% lower than in the preceding year at 36,500 km. The 2000-01 level was only as high as that in 1993-94. The year 2003-04 witnessed a boom period with a very high growth rate. The demand was projected to grow from about 32,000 km in 2003-04, 38,000 km in 2006-07 and to 45,000 km in 2009-10.
The Indian power cable industry has about a dozen producers in the organised sector, claiming more than two-thirds share of the market. The unorganised sector is constituted of a few small units. The divergence in the two segments goes beyond their unit sizes. The two sectors exhibit significant differences in quality and the capacities. While the organised sector has been manu-facturing high voltage and speciality cables, the unorganised sector limits itself to the relatively low voltage market. The organised segment caters also to the industrial market.
The State Electricity Boards remain the major buyers for power cables. Small buyers of power cables also include companies having their own power distribution within plant limits. Conforming to their need-patterns, they require low tension PVC and medium tension XLPE cables. It is obvious that the client profile is changing from what it was. The thrust has slowly shifted to private sector and exports.
Private power generation companies like BSES, with expansion plans underway, are generating significant demand. Nonetheless, for the time being the State Electricity Boards continue to be the big customers. The major players in the organised industry are: Cable Corporation of India, Universal Cables, Fort Gloster, Industrial Cables, Uniflex Cables, RPG Cables, Finolex Cables, Paramount and Hindustan Vidyut Products.
Moreover, the global renewable energy industry is very well suitable for a boost of the cable industry. The upcoming challenges will be offshore installations with special tower cables in the renewable energy sector in the coming years.