With a legacy that stretches back to 1937, Superior Essex International LP has grown into a leading supplier of communications and electrical energy cables. Headquartered in Atlanta, the company maintains multiple communications and energy cable manufacturing plants in the United States, including its latest facility, which produces a wide range of cables for the electrical market.
The latest expansion into the electrical energy markets has been a natural step since Superior Essex was acquired in 2007 by LS Cable & System. The third-largest cable company in the world, LS Cable & System is known for its engineering services, installation and commissioning of high-voltage and extra-high-voltage landlines as well as turnkey submarine cabling projects.
“With the resources and technological backing of LS Cable, we have been able to expand our product offering and break into new markets,” says Steve Waller, vice president of sales and marketing for Superior Essex’s energy division.
Best of the Best
Superior Essex is a global leader in the design, manufacture and supply of wire and cable products. Its magnet wire and distribution business is the world’s largest producer of magnet wire, which is used by major OEMs and distributors. In North America, the company also participates in the telecommunications industry through its communications cable business segment. Superior Essex is a leader in outside plant copper communications wire and cable products used outdoors for voice and data transmission, and it also manufactures and supplies fiber-optic cables and on-premises copper cables that are installed within houses and offices.
The energy division at Superior Essex designs and manufactures wire and cable to service commercial, industrial and utility end-users. The company offers cables to specific vertical markets such as hospitals, universities, warehouses, data centers and manufacturing facilities, as well as to power utilities servicing their power generation, substation and distribution applications.
These products meet or exceed the applicable U.S. industrial standards and have obtained Underwriter’s Laboratories listings and RUS acceptances.
Today, the company’s energy division has two facilities in Tarboro, N.C., that manufacture instrumentation and control and power cables, with capabilities to offer cables ranging from 300V to 35kV. The company can also offer copper and aluminum, singles, pairs, triads and multi-conductor configurations with a wide range of compounds, shielding and neutrals.
“Superior Essex selected the best and latest technology from around the world to design and build one of the most highly efficient energy cables manufacturing facilities in the United States,” Waller says. “Working closely with the manufacturing team at this state-of-the-art facility, we have the capability to become a strategic partner for customers who seek a broad product offering coupled with world-class customer service.”
The company’s new electrical power cable plant includes equipment such as a continuous catenary vulcanization (CCV) tower, with upside capabilities to produce high-voltage cables. It also has an armoring machine for interlock armor cables with capabilities for cables of up to five inches in diameter, as well as laboratory equipment to test up to 160kV.
Superior Essex is working on three major initiatives. First, the company is looking for ways to better deliver the high-quality products with its U.S.-based manufacturing facility, which is registered to ISO 9001:2008 standards. As part of this initiative, Superior Essex is working to ensure that its products meet or exceed U.S. industry standards while also providing the resources needed by sales and technical support teams to provide direction and assistance to its markets.
The second initiative is focused on boosting the ability of its customers to capture more business by providing quick quotation turnaround with accurate product information and enhanced order processing to minimize order entry errors. Additionally, Superior Essex is engaged in ongoing product development, diversifying into new applications and markets while also making sure its customers have access to an up-to-date online catalog that is easy to navigate.
The final initiative is aimed at supporting its customers’ planning and inventory management goals by taking advantage of manufacturing flexibility to make critical inventory decisions easier. Superior Essex has invested in the WIP inventory kanban allocation system to service special quantities and non-standard cable configurations, and it also offers multiple pricing options, minimizing exposure to metal fluctuations and providing price certainty to meet project budgets.
“Superior Essex has an ongoing program to evaluate new products and features to support our growth strategy,” says Art González, director of marketing and product management for Superior Essex’s energy division. “The addition of highly qualified technical and commercial personnel has become a key element to our success as we expand into our addressable markets.”
As the company looks to the future, it understands that the electrical wire and cable market is mature. To succeed, the company has to focus on manufacturing efficiencies, win-win partnerships and ensuring customer satisfaction. The company’s current initiatives are based on these principles, allowing it to focus on design of products and processes that meet the highest degree of quality. It is also concentrating on consistent communication with vendors and customers to find synergies that add value, while also striving to hire and train the best people in the industry.
“The major challenge we face is being prepared for the unexpected changes in the market,” Waller explains. “We have recently seen how swings in markets like oil and gas and commodities prices like copper and aluminum can create ripple effects throughout the industry. Our strategy is to become more diversified in order to mitigate these factors without affecting our overall performance.”