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Higher resistance grades, customization drive R&D of cable assemblies for wet environments

Makers of cable assemblies for wet environments are boosting IP ratings and adding value while expanding output to take advantage of growing demand from different applications worldwide.

China suppliers of cable assemblies for wet environments continue to improve product performance and cosmetic design despite slowing technology enhancements in a mature line. They focus on increasing resistance grades, with most planning to launch more models with IP67 and IP68 ratings. Although IP65 and IP67 units take up more than 70 percent of the country’s output, companies see the share of the latter and IP68 versions rising dramatically in the years ahead. The forecast is driven mainly by climbing demand for such categories from home and abroad.


Cable assembly
Hangzhou Kaipu’s FS1 model is an IP67-rated DIN cable assembly suitable for networking and medical equipment.

Customization will continue to be widely practiced. More than
80 percent of China’s yield is customized. The materials and structure adopted are all subject to buyers’ approval. Special kinds of the first can be employed for an additional cost of 5 to 10 percent. Clients may specify testing equipment, conditions and periods to be used. Standards such as IEC 60502-1997 Annex D and GB/T 12706.2-2002 Annex D can be applied during the tests. Several manufacturers allow third-party inspections on request.

In terms of design, some enterprises are aiming to release variants with up to eight pins as opposed to the mainstream number of five pins only. They are also planning to add UV protection to latest models.

Between 3 and 5 percent of suppliers’ total sales are spent on R&D. The product development team commonly has 10 personnel that can develop a new design in 15 or even 10 days. Shenzhen LYCN Electronics Co. Ltd is targeting to shorten the period to less than 10 days this year. Annually, at least three new items are released by most makers. Some manufacturers are now applying for patents locally and abroad for technology breakthroughs achieved.

Cable assemblies from China enterprises are used for power supply or data transmission. The former covers electrical cables with BNC connectors, plugs, screws and terminals. The second category includes Ethernet, USB, IEEE 1394, DIN and HDMI varieties. Most locally owned operations offer the first group, while it is foreign-invested companies that provide the other.

Aside from water, products have protection against dust, salt, acid, alcohol, oil, cream and solvent. The highest rating is IP68, which can ensure no water will enter the cable assembly within a two-week operation of a depth of 10m.

Dongguan Yong Sheng Cable Co. Ltd provides variants that are also resistant to oil and acid. Its models have a bare, stranded copper conductor, a color-coded PVC jacket and a rated voltage of 450 or 750V. Conforming to GB5023.5-2008/IEC 60227-5.2003 standards, the cable assemblies are used in indoor electric instruments and power supply wires of home appliances.

All products from China suppliers comply with RoHS. Some also meet CE, UL, TÜV and CSA requirements.

The raw materials are the key differentiator of performance of low-end, midrange and upscale cable assemblies for wet environments. While all adopt bare copper wire, the first category uses a PVC jacket and tin-plated connectors, whereas it is PVC or HDPE insulation and tin- or gold-plated terminals for midrange kinds. High-end types utilize an HDPE or metal shielding and gold-plated plugs. The output of the first two variants makes up more than 70 percent of overall yield.

Most suppliers purchase materials locally but also turn to Taiwan providers for upscale models. The majority of companies conduct assembly in-house, producing cables and outsourcing connectors from partner factories.

The cost of raw materials, especially metal and plastic, accounts for 70 percent of total outlay. In end-2010, copper rates climbed to a record high of $9,622 per ton, pushing most makers to raise prices by 5 to 10 percent. Many expect the upward trend to persist in coming months.

An additional challenge for manufacturers is manpower shortage. In response, the majority of enterprises have offered higher salaries and better working conditions to new hires. Labor costs consequently increased by about 10 percent. Many suppliers are therefore considering raising quotes in coming months, particularly for new orders. Adjustments will be between 5 and 10 percent until next year.

Diverse applications drive growth
Taiwan: Suppliers of cable assemblies for wet environments target niche applications
Product gallery

Diverse applications drive growth

Cable assemblies for wet environments are used in power and electric control system, military, oil, chemical, explosion protection, textile, medical, machinery, shipping, communications and outdoor LED lighting segments. The last two will continue to generate the most orders in coming months, which will benefit suppliers as China is one of the largest markets for both.

According to industry estimates, the country’s demand for outdoor LED lighting reached 250,000 units in 2009, accounting for 42 percent of global total. The numbers rose to 400,000 and 46 percent in 2010, and are expected to remain in an upward trend in the years ahead.

China’s communications segment, meanwhile, reached $110 billion in 2008, ranking the second-largest market in the Asia-Pacific region. The value will hit $187 billion and place the country in lead position by 2014, according to Pyramid Research. Mobile communications will experience significant growth, with sales expected to account for 76 percent of the sector’s total during the period.

Overall, global demand has also been increasing. Orders from the EU and North America climbed by about 15 percent in 2010, thanks to economic recovery. Makers expect the trend to persist in coming years, but will also explore new customers in other areas, including Russia and the Middle East. Shipments to these two destinations rose by at least 30 percent in 2010 for some exporters.

Suppliers are therefore planning output expansion in preparation for a demand surge. Several are targeting 15 percent or more this year. Others have already moved to new factories and added production equipment to meet a 20 percent gain in yield.

At present, the category accounts for 20 to 30 percent of mainland China’s total cable assembly manufacture. The share is more than 50 percent in some companies that specialize in models for industrial and shipping applications.

There are about 500 manufacturers in the segment, more than two-thirds of which are locally owned and the rest foreign-invested. The last group focuses on upscale versions with grades of IP67 and IP68.

The maker base is expected to swell in coming years as more newcomers, especially from Taiwan and Hong Kong, enter the business. This, however, will intensify competition and force small players to quit the line.

Taiwan: Suppliers of cable assemblies for wet environments target niche applications

As cable assemblies for wet environments are highly customized, Taiwan makers are emphasizing models for niche markets, including industrial equipment, telecom devices and wire harnesses. Many are also releasing units for architectural and interior design requirements such as wiring of LCD TVs in bathrooms and data transmission cables in swimming pools. Manufacturers, however, continue to offer variants for conventional applications, including water sports and outdoor LED displays, which are the major industry growth drivers.

Buyers commonly specify the connector type, cable length, pin numbers and raw materials. Standard versions come with mainstream multimedia connectors such as D-sub and USB.

Because the connectors have a more complex structure than the cables, manufacturers are highlighting the former’s design by teaming up with partner factories. They also ensure that each part is attached precisely to avoid leakage. Companies have applied for certification, including TS 16949, to ensure quality.

There are more than 30 suppliers in Taiwan, many of which have decades of experience manufacturing connectors and cable assemblies. They also provide HDMI, DVI, USB and SATA interconnects.

Related reports:
Headers & connectors: Upgrades boost reliability, operating life
RF coaxial connectors & cable assemblies: Suppliers underscore smaller, but higher-frequency units


Panel-mounted M12 sensor cable assembly
Product gallery

CheerSun First Industries Corp.
(Taiwan)

Model: Sensor Cable-02
Description: Panel-mounted M12 sensor cable assembly; 3P, 4P, 5P, 8P connectors; IP67, IP68 ratings; OEM/ODM orders welcome


Electrical cable assembly


Dongguan Yong Sheng Cable Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: Yscable
MOQ: Negotiable
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Electrical cable assembly; bare, stranded copper wire; color-coded PVC jacket; 450/750V; oil-, acid-resistant; for indoor electrical instruments, home appliances; GB5023.5-2008, IEC 60227-5:2003


Cable assembly


H.S.P. Connector Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: HWD-2002-8A
Description: Cable assembly; ≤10mohm contact, ≥100mohm insulation resistance at 500VDC; ≥1,000VAC or ≥500V breakdown voltage at 1min, 1.5 to 5A; 2, 5, 10, 20A current rating; -40 to 105 C connector body temperature; IP68 rating; 48hr salt-spray test; minimum 3,000 cycles durability


DIN cable assembly


Shenzhen LYCN Electronics Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: Mini DIN C-XX
MOQ: 1,000 units
Delivery: 10 days
Description: DIN cable assembly; three to nine pins; IP67 rating; for computer mice and keyboards, video equipment; custom colors, cable lengths


Connector


South Sea Terminal Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: WP-04M2-37
Description: Connector; brass contact and nut; UL94V-0-rated PBT insulation; gold flash contact finish; NBR O-ring; 125V, 20A; -200 to 850 C operating temperature; IPX7 rating


Cable assembly


Ta An Electric Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: Stow Stoow
Description: Cable assembly; soft-annealed bare stranded copper wire; oil-resistant PVC insulation; 18 to 2AWG cable; two or more stranded cores with filler; maximum 600V; 60 C rated temperature; VW-1 vertical flame test; for power supply cords of computers, electrical appliances, marine pumps, motors, medical and audio equipment; UL, cUL


Mini-USB male-to-female cable assembly


Taitek Components Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: WP06-005
Description: Mini-USB male-to-female cable assembly; IP67 rating; black; custom cable lengths


Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.



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