WHY MANAGING IT MATTERS
Technology and innovation are critical to maintain Southwire’s market leadership and attract a talented workforce. Our success is ultimately driven by how well we solve our customers’ needs. Sustainability is a major issue both for companies and individuals as we work within the constraints of the planet’s limited natural resources. And, as part of the broader supply of materials to buildings and energy infrastructure, we must focus on how our customers and contractors use our products and how we can jointly benefit society. Our approach to technology and innovation spans corporate functions (product design, marketing, IT, legal and HR), manufacturing operations, customer service centers and sales offices.
Our investment in and response to innovation opportunities differentiates us among our industry peers. Southwire is proud of the advancements we pursue each year to transform our research and experience into products and solutions on the leading edge of sustainability, safety, satisfaction and efficiency.
We stay abreast of evolving industry standards and requirements and innovate in advance of pending changes. We also listen to and observe our customers and product end users to identify innovation opportunities. Through extensive firsthand research, Southwire takes a comprehensive approach to understanding our customers’ needs and behaviors.
Innovation differentiates Southwire in the marketplace, and we include environmental considerations into our product development approach. We closely examine the entire product life-cycle, paying special attention to the product’s design, installation methods and use. We strive to make the customer experience seamless, so we integrate our solutions as much as possible—thereby enhancing customer productivity and ensuring the highest standards of user safety.
Research & Development
Our strength in Technology and Innovation stems from our dedication to Research and Development (R&D). Southwire has a rich history of cultivating new ideas and creating customer solutions, which remains integral to our culture. The Southwire Cofer Technology Center houses our world-class R&D team, which communicates with each business unit to learn what solutions to pursue to solve our customers’ most pressing problems.
Our business groups communicate the desired solutions based on insights gained from observing and experiencing customers’ use of our products. Southwire’s innovation is a successful interweaving of the product managers’ understanding of customers’ needs and R&D’s mastering the science necessary to implement a product design that satisfies those needs.
After a performance evaluation by the respective division president, a Specifications Committee formally manages the approval and launch of product innovations, ensuring the product can be manufactured and its performance consistency maintained. Staffed by Manufacturing, Marketing and R&D, the team manages the long-term integrity of any product innovation as it moves from development to full-scale production.
2021 Sustainability Goal & Targets
To emphasize our commitment to R&D focused on our customers’ needs, Southwire launched an aggressive new Technology and Innovation goal in 2017 with corresponding targets. We are pleased to begin reporting our progress toward our goal in this 2017 Sustainability Report.
2021 SUSTAINABILITY GOALS & TARGETS
|TARGET||2016 BASELINE||2017 STATUS||2021 TARGET|
|10% of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in the funnel||8%||6%||10%|
|$1 billion of incremental revenue tied to these solutions (15% of projected 2021 revenues)||$0||$0||$1 billion|
Our innovations address specific customer needs, which vary by segment. Southwire’s organizational structure supports product innovations relevant for each customer type.
Power Systems & Solutions Group
Southwire’s Power Systems & Solutions (PSS) Group is composed of the Energy business unit, the Industrial business unit and the OEM business unit. The PSS Group is dedicated to working with customers to provide innovative products, solutions and services that not only meet, but exceed, our customer’s expectations, with a foundation in R&D and engineering expertise unparalleled in the industry.
Collectively, the PSS Group introduced numerous innovative solutions in 2017:
- Max Storm™ Overhead Conductors. This product is specifically designed for withstanding heavy ice and extreme wind loads, which cause extreme strain on transmission lines resulting in increased sag and tension. Max Storm™ Overhead Conductors accumulate less ice buildup reducing sag and weight on transmission towers.
- Southwire Speed Service. Launched as an Industrial ordering program, this service allows dedicated account specialists to work with customers and meet their needs for a premium and/or expedited product. Customers requiring unique construction situations are now able to find a timely solution.
- HVAC cable offering. We enhanced this product line with connectors and hand tools specifically designed with mini-split installations in mind. An HVAC point-of-purchase display features straight and 90-degree connectors along with rotary cutters and replacement blades.
- Electric Vehicle charging. To service the electric vehicle (EV) market, Southwire developed a liquid-cooled charging cable for Level 3 EV charging.
Construction Systems & Solutions Group
Southwire’s Construction Systems & Solutions (CSS) Group is composed of the Electrical business unit and the Tools & Assembled Products business unit. These business units comprise the following business segments: electrical wire and cable for Electrical Distributors, Contractors, DIYers and Retail Outlets and Tools & Assembled Products—which also includes Contractor Equipment. The CSS Group is focused on creating innovative products that help end users of our products and services save time, increase efficiency and, most importantly, increase safety on the job site.
In 2017, we developed and launched several innovative, award-winning products:
- Releasable Cable Ties. Southwire’s patented line of heavy duty releasable cable ties, an industry-first, offer a faster, more versatile and less expensive way to bundle, secure and support cables. They are ideal for low voltage, as well as general electrical applications.
- MC-PCS Duo™ Power & Control/Signal Cable. This product offering expanded to include several UL-listed variations to meet our customers’ needs. Contractors favored the original product because the efficient design reduced labor and installation costs for use in energy efficient LED lighting by combining power conductors and zero to10 volt dimming control conductors into one cable. As we continued to grow the product line, we added steel armored MC-PCS cables to complement our aluminum armored MC-PCS cable offering. Additionally, we introduced MCAP® Metal Clad All Purpose MC-PCS Duo™ cable and MC-PCS HCF Duo™. These cables simplify the ground make-up and termination process by using the armor as a component of the ground path. With its redundant and robust armor ground path, MC-PCS HCF Duo™ Cable is ideal for use in patient care areas of hospitals, nursing homes, dental offices, outpatient, and other healthcare facilities. For applications requiring use of raceways and fixture whips, we launched FMC-PCS Duo™ Fixture Whip Assemblies. These UL Listed cable assemblies ship in pre-cut lengths with fittings already installed and help to reduce installation and material costs.
- LED Lighting. Southwire Tools & Equipment made a large investment in the LED Lighting category, proven by our additions of the LED Low Bay Light and LED String Lights. These LED lights, which last longer than halogen lights, have had overwhelming success in the Wholesale channel and continue to be requested in the field. Southwire Tools & Equipment plans to continue innovation in this space by adding additional products to this category in 2018.
- LED Low Bay Light. A 78W fixture that delivers 8,200 lumens, this light consumes less power and lasts longer than halogen light sources. The LED Light features a frosted lens to reduce glare and improve the beam angle.
- LED String Light. This LED solution applies to any job site application. Available in both 50-footand 100-foot. lengths, the lights feature LEDs on the top and bottom of the modules, offering full job site coverage, as well as offer energy savings due to the larger area each module illuminates.
- Southwire’s Made in America Hand Tools. This product line demonstrates our commitment to manufacture additional products in the United States. This line received overwhelming success and positive feedback from the industry as many electricians and contractors continue looking for an American-made product solution. Manufacturing within America is also helping to create a sustainable workforce for future products.
Another notable product includes the SIMpull™ Flange. Although the SIMpull™ Flange launched in 2016, it won the Electrical Construction & Maintenance magazine’s Product of the Year 2017 Award. It is designed to be a time saving, field-installable solution that removes the need to handle heavy jack stands and enables one person to safely turn a wooden reel up to 34 inches and 2,000 pounds on a flat level floor. Each flange rotates independently and allows free movement of loaded wooden reels. The SIMpull™ Flange is reusable in the field and can be installed on multiple reels throughout the job site.
SCR Technologies designs, manufactures, commissions and supports continuous cast copper and aluminum rod systems around the world with installations in 36 countries. It expanded into adjacent markets by developing new technologies such as aluminum ultrasonic degassing (Ultra-D™) and ultrasonic grain refining (Ultra-G™) systems.
The world leader in continuous cast copper rod markets, SCR system sizes range from seven to 54 metric tons per hour. SCR also holds the number two market position in aluminum, with system sizes ranging from two-and-a-half to 15 metric tons per hour. Its ultrasonic technology can be used in adjacent aluminum markets such as direct chill (DC), die casting (DC) and strip casting.
Through continued system automation focusing on improved safety, operating cost, reliability, quality of product produced and environmental impact, SCR is poised to remain a major player in the non-ferrous metals processing markets.
Evaluating Our Performance
In addition to our bold 2021 goal, Southwire measures our success through the number of patents and innovation awards our products win each year.
(U.S. & International)
|Patents acquired during year||20||Over 20||Over 20|
Communicating Our Innovations
We share our advances through the Southwire network, newsletters, digital or industry trade press releases, our internal email, advertisements, universities and trade shows. We also share them with our industry partners, such as the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).